Chamber Executive Article Archive

Faces & Places

by Multiple Authors

Marla Akridge, IOM, was named executive director of the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation of Alleghany County, Va. Akridge has spent over 18 years in the chamber/economic development arena. She was formerly president of the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce.

David Angus, the 17-year president and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, announced his resignation in June. Angus will remain with the chamber until the end of July before returning to the private sector. He will be replaced by Loren Remillard, the current chamber executive vice president.

Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce’s long-time president Nancy Bruns, CCE, recently embarked on her retirement, after leading the organization for 16 years, and having worked in the chamber profession since 1986. Under her leadership, the Lee’s Summit Chamber earned 5-Star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber in 2014. In reflecting on her tenure, Nancy remarked, “I have been blessed here in Lee’s Summit. I have had wonderful board chair members and, very importantly, have hired really good staff. Together as a community we have done great things.” Tim Arbeiter, who has served as vice president of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, will succeed Bruns as the Lee’s Summit Chamber president.

Jennifer Conway was named as the new president and CEO of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. Conway was CEO of the Graham Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau in Texas for the past three years.

Reneé Earls has come on board as the Odessa Chamber of Commerce’s new president and CEO. Mike George, who led the chamber for 23 years retired in June. Earls, a lifelong resident of Odessa, Texas, has run The Odessan, a community magazine that she bought in 1999.

Kathleen Hawkins is the new president and CEO of the Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce in Hendersonville, Tenn. Previously, Hawkins served as founder and owner of WOAMTEC (Women on a Mission To Earn Commission), an Orlando-based membership organization for professional businesswomen with more than 2,000 members across 71 cities nationwide.

Catawba County Chamber of Commerce President Danny Hearn, CCE, IOM, recently announced his plans to retire on September 30 after a 43-year career in chamber work, which includes 12 years at the Catawba County Chamber in Hickory, N.C. Lindsay Keisler, senior vice president of the chamber will act as interim president. In addition to his time at the Catawba County Chamber, Hearn also worked for chambers in Norfolk, Va.; Rockingham, N.C.; and Statesville, N.C.

Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Ellen Horan, CCE, a former ACCE board member, has stepped down from her post due to a family relocation to Indiana, after serving the organization since 2005. Karen Marsdale, the chamber’s senior vice president, will serve as interim CEO.

The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce recently selected Chris Horton to be its new president and CEO. Horton comes to Santa Clara from the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce where he was the vice president of membership and sales.

Katherine Lee has been named the new executive director for the Port Lavaca Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, Lee was the business development coordinator of the Palacios Community Medical Center. Before moving to the area, Lee was director of business services for the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.

Megan A. Lucas, CEcD, IOM, is the new CEO and chief economic development officer for the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance (LRBA). She has over 18 years of experience as a chamber and economic development executive and previously served as chief executive officer for the Region 2000 Business and Economic Development Alliance. The LRBA is the newly-created organization which combined the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Region 2000 Economic Development Alliance to creating the Regional Business and Economic Development organization for the Lynchburg Region focused on job growth, capital investment, brand awareness, talent development, and business climate.

After serving the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce in North Carolina for 22 years, President and CEO Connie Majure-Rhett, CCE, announced her retirement May 20. In a blog posting on the chamber’s website, Majure-Rhett said, “Today, I can retire with confidence, knowing that the Chamber has never been in a better position, and that a team of capable, experienced leaders is at the helm of a strong organization.” Due to family-related reasons that require her immediate attention, Majure-Rhett’s retirement was effective immediately.

The Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce in North Dakota introduced Scott Meske, IOM, CAE, as the organization’s new president. Prior to accepting the position, Meske was president of the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce. Meske succeeds Kelvin Hullet, who left earlier this year to serve as the government affairs and economic development market manager for the Bank of North Dakota.

Michelle Oestrike has been named the new president of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce in Ohio. She replaces Wendy Jakmas, who led the organization for more than seven years. Before joining the chamber, Oestrike served as assistant director of leadership, travel and engagement at Ohio University.

The Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce in Illinois selected Wendy Pfeil to be its new executive director. Pfeil, who has worked at the chamber for the past eight years as director of membership development, replaces John Lengerman, who retired in May.

After 40 years in the chamber profession, Steve Queior, CCE, will step down from his role as president and CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce when his successor is in place around the end of the year. Among the notable achievements during Queior’s 13-year tenure there, the Sarasota Chamber launched and implemented “Sarasota Tomorrow” which has been a key partner in bringing the Orioles spring training and year-round operations to the community and creating the Talent4Tomorrow partnership to foster community collaboration in educational attainment and workforce development. Queior, who will work on special initiatives in Florida, was honored in 2006 with the “Florida Chamber Professional of the Year” award.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce has hired Christine Ross, CCE, IOM, as its next president and CEO. Ross comes to Maryland from Bonita Springs, Fla., where she served as president and CEO of the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council.

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