ACCE Partners with National Skills Coalition

Tania Kohut on Monday, February 25, 2019 at 4:00:00 pm 

ACCE’s new strategic partnership with the National Skills Coalition and its Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) program pairs BLU’s business-driven skills policy expertise with ACCE’s robust member network to elevate the voice of employers in workforce policy discussions.

With the support of the Ballmer Group and J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, ACCE and BLU will develop a network of seven state-based BLU affiliates in 2019, to be joined by a second cohort in 2020. These BLU affiliates, led by representatives of the chamber community in each state, will be charged with organizing a diverse coalition of businesses and business associations from across each state in order to develop a shared skills policy agenda on behalf of the state’s business community.

BLU will provide infrastructure support and policy guidance to each state affiliate, and ACCE will assist the lead organizations with targeted coalition building and network growth.

Tags: workforce, Workforce Development, #workforce

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Bethany Orban Joins ACCE Team

Tania Kohut on Monday, February 25, 2019 at 4:00:00 pm 

Bethany Orban joins ACCE as the marketing and communications manager after directing the communications and programming efforts for the Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance in Tennessee. Bethany will lead ACCE’s efforts to revamp the association’s communications strategy to more effectively showcase the evolving role chambers play as catalytic community leaders. Bethany is passionate about storytelling and wants to hear your stories. Share exciting news from your chamber by contacting Bethany via email at

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Beth Bronder, Sarah Amoyaw Join ACCE Team

Tania Kohut on Monday, February 4, 2019 at 3:00:00 pm 

ACCE welcomes two new staff members.

Beth Bronder, vice president, development and partnerships joins ACCE with more than 20 years of development and organizational management experience. Previously, Beth spent several years consulting for the National Governors Association and held a leadership role at CQ Roll Call/The Economist Group. She also held senior-level positions at a number of companies including Bloomberg and Unisys. She can be reached at


Sarah Amoyaw joins the team as the community advancement and communications coordinator. In this role, Sarah will coordinate professional development activities for ACCE members and develop original content to highlight best practices, industry trends and community impact. She will also support the Education and Talent Development Division’s work with the National Skills Coalition and Business Leaders United. Sarah is a graduate of Towson University and an active member of the local Change Foundation. Contact Sarah via email at

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Big Sky, Montana: Community Housing

Kattherine House on Monday, December 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

In Montana, the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce has spearheaded many of the discussions and initiatives around affordable housing, referred to locally as “community housing.” Like other resort areas, the Big Sky area has a high percentage of affluent second-home owners and a large percentage of in-commuters who cannot afford to live where they work, according to CEO Candace Carr Strauss.

In 2013, the chamber acted as a project manager for a citizens’ group that was studying and discussing the issue, making it eligible to receive funds from the local resort area tax district to fund an affordable work force housing study. The study, prepared by a consultant, made several recommendations, including that the area form a non-profit organization dedicated to the issue.

One of the next steps was submitting an application for a Community Development Block Grant. The chamber teamed with a local county to apply for a grant to fund a preliminary architectural report designed to address issues such as site options and preliminary architectural renderings. It was the chamber that provided the required matching funds; the application was successful.

In 2016, the Big Sky Community Housing Trust was formed to function as a land trust to provide affordable housing units via acquisition of property. The chamber contracted with a non-profit community action agency to provide a half-time employee to manage the trust. Town halls put on by the chamber followed, as well as a Big Sky Housing Action Plan prepared by a consultant. Now, after years of planning, education and laying the groundwork, Big Sky is well on its way to development of a community housing project. In 2018, the Community Housing Trust received $1.945 million in appropriations from the Big Sky Resort Area District and was able to sign an agreement with a developer to acquire land for a 52-unit affordable housing project.


Read more:
Learn how chambers in university towns, resort communities and fast-growing locales are among those seeking solutions for affordable housing. Click here to read the cover story, "Workforce Housing," from the fall 2018 issue of Chamber Executive.




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Amy Shields Joins ACCE Team

Tania Kohut on Monday, October 22, 2018 at 9:00:00 am 

ACCE welcomes Amy Shields as its new senior manager of community advancement. In this role, Amy will lead professional development and peer learning opportunities for ACCE members to help them improve education and workforce development outcomes; pursue sustainable and inclusive economic growth and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities they serve.  

“Amy is passionate about our mission and excited to help chambers across the country create positive change,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “Her strengths in program management, stakeholder engagement and communications make her a perfect fit for this role.”

Amy joins ACCE’s bicoastal team that was formed through a strategic partnership between ACCE and the Los Angeles Area Chamber to leverage the LA Chamber’s expertise in strengthening education systems and ACCE’s national reach and professional development platform. She will manage community advancement programming and work to identify industry trends to showcase the mission-based value chambers bring to communities across the country.

Prior to joining ACCE, she served as program manager for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), overseeing GEO’s publications and managing programs to help grantmakers and nonprofits make a greater impact through their philanthropic work. Prior to that, she worked for the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, an ACCE member organization in Virginia.


Tags: community advancement, education, Workforce Development, ACCE

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ACCE launches Healthy Communities program

Will Burns on Monday, August 20, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

Ten chambers were selected to participate in a new ACCE professional development program designed to help chambers of commerce lead effective and innovative community health initiatives and demonstrate the leadership roles chambers in smaller communities can play to strengthen quality of life and support equitable prosperity.
This year-long program will take participants through a design thinking lab to help develop and implement a plan to tackle a community health challenge. Each chamber has teamed with a community partner to participate alongside them throughout the program.
Participating chamber professionals include:

  • Jennifer Reiser, Chief Operating Officer, Billings Chamber
  • Vicki Clark, President, Cape May Chamber
  • MelissaWorthington, Vice President of Chamber Membership and Strategic Advancement, Envision Greater Fond du Lac
  • Pat Patrick, President/CEO, Lodi District Chamber
  • Kelly Hall, President, Longview Chamber
  • Robert Goltz, President/CEO, Miramar Pembroke Pines Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Bob DuBois, CEO, Noblesville Chamber
  • Barbara Ann Heegan, President/CEO, Otsego County Chamber
  • Chris Clark, President/CEO, Queen Creek Chamber
  • Ananda Sweet, Workforce Development Manager, Santa Rosa Metro Chamber

Visit to learn more about chambers of commerce that are championing health and wellness issues in their communities. Email Emily Counts, community advancement coordinator at ACCE, for additional ways to connect on this topic.

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Chamber leaders named to ACCE Talent Fellowship

Tania Kohut on Monday, August 13, 2018 at 11:00:00 am 

Leaders from 20 chambers of commerce, representing communities throughout the United States, have been selected to participate in ACCE’s Fellowship for Education and Talent Development. This is the fifth cohort of Fellows to participate in this program. 

The Fellowship is an immersive professional development program that provides chamber of commerce professionals with education, peer connections and tools to improve the education and workforce development outcomes in the communities they serve.

Throughout the year-long experience, participants develop regional action plans to address a specific education attainment or workforce development issues in their communities.

Congratulations to this year’s Fellows!

Danielle Britton
Talent & Education Director
Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce
Binghamton, New York

Eric Brown
Vice President of Economic Development
Salina Area Chamber of Commerce
Salina, Kansas

Anthony Edwards
Senior Vice President of Talent Development, Attraction & Retention
Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce
Fort Worth, Texas

Angela Finding
Director, Education & Workforce
Greater Cleveland Partnership
Cleveland, Ohio

Rod Garvin
Vice President of Talent & Workforce Development
Charlotte Chamber
Charlotte, North Carolina

Theresa Harvey
President & CEO
North Orange County Chamber
Fullerton, California

Deana Karem
Vice President of Regional Economic Growth
Greater Louisville Inc.
Louisville, Kentucky

Stephanie Keinath
Director of Public Policy & Economic Development
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
Dayton, Ohio

Meg Lindsay
Director Education & Workforce/Spokane STEM
Greater Spokane Incorporated
Spokane, Washington

Sarah Moylan
Senior Director of Talent
Greater Omaha Chamber
Omaha, Nebraska

Anna Osland
Manager, Policy Initiatives
One Acadiana
Lafayette, Louisiana

Samantha Perez
Director of Education Policy
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
Nashville, Tennessee

Beth Rinehart
President & CEO
Bristol TN/VA Chamber of Commerce
Bristol, Tennessee

Paige Sharpe
Program Manager
Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Springfield, Oregon

Betsy Sikma
Vice President, Talent & Economic Inclusion
Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce
Spartanburg, South Carolina

Kwee Lan Teo
Vice President of Talent & Workforce
Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
Austin, Texas

Melissa Thompson
Director of Talent Development
Baton Rouge Area Chamber
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Adrea Turner
Director of Talent & Workforce Solutions
Greenville Chamber
Greenville, South Carolina

Kami Welch
Arvada Chamber of Commerce
Arvada, Colorado

Robin Willis
Associate Vice President of Talent Pipeline Strategies
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
North Charleston, South Carolina

Learn more about the Fellowship here. ACCE will begin accepting applications for the next Fellowship cohort in May 2019.



Tags: Education Attainment, Education Attainment Division, Fellowship for Education Attainment, ACCE News

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Meet the newest Certified Chamber Executives

Tania Kohut on Monday, July 30, 2018 at 2:30:00 pm 

Eleven chamber of commerce leaders from eight states have recently joined an elite roster of professionals who have earned the Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) designation.

Since the first CCE designation was conferred some 40 years ago, more than 500 chamber professionals have become certified. More than 250 people have an active certification today.

ACCE celebrated this year’s Certified Chamber Executives — Steve Baas, Marvin Bond, Lisa Hermes, Tony Howard, Jamee Jolly, Christine Kennedy, Sandra Lindquist, Roy Nascimento, Lynn Olberding, Jodie Perry and Erin Williams — in Des Moines at the #ACCEAwards Show on Wednesday, July 18.

“The CCE program assesses and tests the applicant's knowledge of core chamber management areas —management, planning and development, membership and communication, and operations,” says Bob Quick, CCE, president and CEO of Commerce Lexington Inc. and 2017-18 CCE commission chairman. “Chamber professionals who are designated CCEs have rightfully earned this outstanding recognition through hard work, countless hours of dedication to their field, and leadership of their chamber to achieve the chamber’s goals. We are proud to have this year’s class join a long tradition of professional excellence.”

Congratulations, from your friends at ACCE!


Steve Baas, CCE          
Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs & Public Policy    
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
Milwaukee, Wis.

Marvin Bond, CCE      
Vice President of Investor Relations        
Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce
Irving, Texas

Lisa Hermes, CCE       
President & CEO              
McKinney Chamber of Commerce
McKinney, Texas

Tony Howard, CCE     
President & CEO              
Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce
Leesburg, Va.

Jamee Jolly, CCE         
President & CEO              
Plano Chamber of Commerce
Plano, Texas

Christine Kennedy, CCE           
COO and Executive Vice President           
Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance
Lynchburg, Va.

Sandra Lindquist, CCE               
Executive Vice President & COO
New Orleans Chamber
New Orleans, La.

Roy Nascimento, CCE               
President & CEO              
North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce
Fitchburg, Mass.

Lynn Olberding, CCE 
Executive Director          
Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce
Marshalltown, Iowa

Jodie Perry, CCE          
Richland Area Chamber of Commerce
Mansfield, Ohio

Erin Williams, CCE      
President & CEO              
O'Fallon Chamber of Commerce & Industries
O'Fallon, Mo.

Learn more about the Certified Chamber Executive designation and meet our CCE Commissioners.

Tags: #ACCEAwards, Certified Chamber Executive, #ACCE18

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Congratulations, Chamber(s) of the Year

Tania Kohut on Monday, July 30, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

Last week at the annual #ACCEAwards Show, nearly one-thousand community-builders gathered at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines to celebrate winners of many special awards, including Chamber of the Year.

Sponsored by MemberClicks, Chamber of the Year is the most prestigious and competitive award presented by ACCE and is the only globally-recognized industry award that honors top chambers of commerce for exemplary work.

Category One
Des Moines Downtown Chamber
Des Moines, Iowa

Synopsis 1: Leadership Education and Advancement Pipeline (LEAP)
Synopsis 2: Downtown DIG (Development Insights Group) Program

Category Two
Round Rock Chamber 
Round Rock, Texas

Synopsis 1: Implementing the Workforce Realization Occurring Cooperatively Strategy
Synopsis 2: Implementing the REV UP Round Rock Strategy

Category Three
Plano Chamber of Commerce
Plano, Texas

Synopsis 1: Business Center & New Chamber Facility
Synopsis 2: Public Policy and Advocacy

Category Four
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
North Charleston, S.C.

Synopsis 1: Bridging the Talent Gap
Synopsis 2: Local Area Chambers

State/Province Category
Chamber of Commerce Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii

Synopsis 1: Manufacturing in Hawaii Initiative
Synopsis 2: 2017 Hawaii on the Hill

This year's competition drew entries from chambers throughout the U.S. and Canada. To ensure the fairest competition, applicants are grouped into five categories based on: annual revenue, membership, area population, and several other factors.

Learn more about Chamber of the Year here.

Tags: Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Chamber of the Year, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Des Moines Downtown Chamber, MemberClicks, Plano Chamber of Commerce, Round Rock Chamber of Commerce, #ACCEAwards

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Congratulations, Best in Show winners

Tania Kohut on Monday, July 30, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

ACCE’s Awards for Communications Excellence, sponsored by Golden Openings, Inc., celebrate top-notch marketing work that effectively communicates policy work, the accomplishments of the chamber of commerce, community advancement and economic development initiatives, membership attraction and retention, events and more.

The top three entries — one from each size category — are presented the Best in Show award.

At the #ACCEAwards Show in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 18, three organizations — Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (S.C.), Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce (Mo.) and Champaign County Chamber of Commerce (Ill.) — were recognized as this year’s Best in Show winners.

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce: Quarterly Report Series 

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce: Springfield Region Digital Brochure

Champaign County Chamber of CommerceChamber Zone 

Judges of this year’s Communications Excellence awards selected one entry — submitted by the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (Neb.) — to receive a specially-created recognition called the “Total Eclipse” award. The entry was honored for its creative execution and attention-grabbing results for the advertising surrounding the Great Solar Eclipse in 2017, which included various signs scattered throughout Lincoln in August 2017.

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce: Eclipse Seasonal Signs

In addition to celebrating winners of the Best in Show and Total Eclipse awards, Grand Award winners took to the stage and Awards of Excellence winners were recognized. (Check out this blog post, where we announced Grand Award and Award of Excellence winners.)

Tags: #ACCEAwards, Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Communications, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Marketing, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, #ACCE18

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