Life Member Awards

Historically called “Honorary Member,” this pinnacle award is bestowed by ACCE on those who retire after stellar careers in chamber leadership. The present “Life Member” name recognizes both the lifetime of success in the chamber profession as well as the member-for-life status granted to each honoree.

Life Member designees are honored during the ACCE annual convention's awards ceremony.

Criteria for Consideration: 

1.  Successful Chamber

    • Shown measurable success in building their communities and organizations

2.  Mentorship

    • Willingly mentored their own staff members and others who sought guidance to grow in the profession

3.  Prominent Role in Leading/Advancing the Profession

    • Made a significant contribution to the profession:  ACCE participation and leadership, U.S. Chamber institutes and programs, State Regional Association Officer, etc.

Factors Influencing Selection:

  • CCE
  • 5-Star Accreditation
  • Chairmanship of state/regional chamber execs’ association
  • ACCE Board Service
  • IOM Board of Governors Service
  • “Seconding” or supporting letters/testimony/recommendations

Requirements & Eligiblity:

The Candidate’s chamber (current employer or chamber to which a retired candidate is most closely affiliated), must be a member in Good Standing of ACCE

  • CEOs
    1. All retired CEOs with 12 or more years of service, who have been out of the profession for at least one year, may be nominated for Life Member consideration, regardless of current employment status. If less than 12 years as CEO, candidate must have been out of the chamber (or related) profession for at least 18 months prior to nomination.
    2. A currently serving CEO of a chamber or chamber-like organization may be nominated for Life Membership if he/she has served 12 or more years as CEO.  Those nominated for life membership while still serving as CEO of a chamber must be approved by the selection committee two consecutive years. 
  • Non-CEOs
    1. Staff members of chambers may be eligible for Life Member nomination following full retirement from the profession after at least 20 years of service.

NOTE:  No more than two currently serving CEOs may receive Life Member designation in the same year.

Nomination Process:

  • A nomination letter that includes appropriate information about the nominee must be addressed to the ACCE Life Member Committee c/o ACCE, 1330 Braddock Place, Ste 300, Alexandria, VA 22314 by February 1, 2017. In addition to evidence of excellence in regards to the criteria, the nomination must include current contact information for the person being nominated.
  • Late submissions, as well as those nominated in a prior award cycle, will be re-submitted for consideration in the subsequent year(s).  Re-nomination is not required. 
  • Notice of acceptance (winning), rejection (unlikely to receive Life Member status at any time), and tabling (under consideration in the future) will not be provided to nominators prior to the announcement of Life Member awards. For this reason, it is recommended that nominators do not alert candidates at the time of nomination.
  • Life Member designees and the primary nominating party will be notified at least six weeks prior to the date of the awards ceremony.


2017 Life Members Announced!

Join us at #ACCE17 in Nashville on Tuesday, July 18 at 6 p.m. when we honor the work of these three individuals and their enduring influence and lifetime of service to the chamber profession.

Larry A. Bowman, CCE

Following a 37-year career in the chamber profession, Larry Bowman retired in 2014 as president/CEO of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce in his hometown of Lebanon, Pa. He began his chamber career as director of government affairs for the Schenectady County (N.Y.) Chamber of Commerce in 1977 and subsequently held executive leadership positions with chambers in Chemung County/Elmira (N.Y.), New Castle County/Wilmington (Del.), Cayuga County/Auburn (N.Y.), Main Line/Wayne (Pa.) and Exton (Pa.).

Larry is a past member of ACCE’s board of directors and of the U.S. Chamber’s Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is also past board chair for both the New York State Chamber of Commerce Executives and the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals.(PACP). In 2011, PACP presented him with its highest honor, the Keystone Award, which recognizes significant contributions and dedicated service to the chamber profession in Pennsylvania. He was also the recipient in 1996 of the inaugural Building A Better New York Award presented by the Business Council of New York State. In addition, the Chemung County (N.Y.) Chamber, under Larry’s leadership, was presented with the President’s “E” Award for Export Service by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Larry is a 1985 graduate of the Institute for Organization Management at the University of Delaware and a graduate of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, N.C.. He is also a past member of the Board of Regents for the Delaware IOM site.

In 1996, Larry earned the Certified Chamber Executive designation from ACCE and in 2011 was awarded the Pennsylvania Certified Chamber Executive (PaCCE) designation by PACP.

Active in numerous organizations in his community, Larry was presented with an Alumni Citation in 2014 by his alma mater, Lebanon Valley College, and served as co-chair of the college’s 150th Anniversary Committee in 2016.   

Donald M. Laird, CCE

Don Laird retired from the chamber profession after 33 years of service with chambers in South Dakota, Kansas, and Missouri. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., and a graduate of the University of North Dakota, Don spent the last 24 years as president of the Columbia, Missouri, Chamber of Commerce. In addition to a long career as a chamber professional, Don worked for 3M Company, owned a small business, and served 26 years as a U.S. Army officer on active duty and reserve duty, with service in Vietnam.

During his tenure with the Columbia, Missouri, Chamber, Don was instrumental in establishing an angel investment corporation, a junior leadership program, an emerging professional program, and the expansion of it's government affairs program. The Chamber membership doubled, the budget tripled, and the impact of the Chamber increased significantly. Don received his CCE designation in 1995 followed by a masters degree at the University of Missouri in 1997.

Don was active in the U.S. Chamber Institute of Organization Management including service on the Institute Board of Trustees, chair of the Winter Institute, and as an instructor at eight different sites. Other service included being the president of the Kansas and later the Missouri Chamber Executive organizations; the ACCE board of directors; and was awarded the Top Level Award by the Missouri Chamber Executives.

Upon retirement, Don has become a mentor in the local veteran's court, serves on the local community foundation, a research foundation affiliated with the Truman VA Hospital, the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau board, his homeowners association, the Boy Scout Board, and a local bank board.

Ed Wolking, Jr., CCE

Ed Wolking retired in 2016 after 30 years at the Detroit Regional Chamber, most recently serving as the organization's executive counsel. During his tenure in Detroit, Ed held various roles across the organization, including serving as executive vice president as well as senior vice president of strategic directions, member services and marketing. He also led the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation and developed and implemented the Chamber’s affinity programs and the tiered dues concept and platform. 

Ed founded the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition and the bi-national Great Lakes Manufacturing Council in response to the region’s economic challenges, as well as projects including: a study on the impact of off-shoring on manufacturing in Michigan; and the Great Lakes Manufacturing Forum. His health care duties have included national and state legislative advocacy; group product design, development, and marketing; leadership in regional and state organizations; regional issues and initiatives to reduce costs and increase quality.

His 45-year career in chamber management includes serving as president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce (Ind.); group executive at the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce; and executive vice president at the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce in Ohio.

Ed holds a bachelor of arts and master of business administration from Xavier University and holds numerous awards from the National Association of Membership Development. He and his wife have four sons and belong to St. Clare of Montefalco Parish.

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