Chamber Executive Article Archive

201617 Year-in-Review

By Jay Chesshir and Mick Fleming

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Gratifying might be the most fitting word to use when describing the wildly diverse months since we gathered in Savannah for the 2016 convention. Along with ACCE members, we have many reasons to celebrate—it has been a really good year!

Now with 1,500 members in 15 countries and territories, our network has steadily expanded—both by the numbers and geographically. Wrapping up a banner year, we welcomed 157 new members. Thanks to the wonderful referral and testimonial support from leaders like Pat MulQueeny, IOM, and Wil Pineau, CCE, ACCE members represent communities in every state and many places outside the U.S., from Aruba to Israel, Saskatchewan to Vietnam.

Much of the driving force behind recent growth and our 90+ percent renewal rate can be attributed to popular online experiences. Interactive webinars, which are recorded and made available year-round, attracted hundreds of participants in the past year. And many more flocked to our rich information hub, HERO, to access thousands of useful samples and resource pages, which cover nearly every topic a chamber professional might encounter. (And if we didn’t have the information you were looking for when asked, there’s a good chance we have it now.) One ACCE member in the Midwest admitted recently to running a “stump HERO” game during a staff luncheon; that’s a tough game to win, though, as it’s hard to stump our HERO team. We answered thousands of questions last year, many involving one-on-one support.

Like online offerings, offline gatherings were a driver of excitement, inspiration and engagement. We celebrated near-record attendance in Savannah; and convention content, made available after the three-day affair, has been heavily accessed in the months since. Other live gatherings — like the Sales Training Conference, division and peer group meetings and others — attracted hundreds of members to Tucson, Cleveland, Santa Monica, St. Louis and points between. Positive reviews from these events provided encouragement to the board of directors and staff.

Value and member-focused priorities undoubtedly contributed to a record-breaking year for ACCE. In addition to education and workforce development, our community advancement work broadened to focus on additional topic areas, including health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, immigrant integration, criminal justice reform and youth character development.

Our circle of supporters grew with the addition of new partners, including the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, as well as the Alliance for Safety and Justice and the Council of State Governments Justice Center. These new partnerships are evidence that philanthropic and education-focused organizations have taken notice of the catalytic leadership provided by chambers of commerce across the country. ACCE’s Community Growth Educational Foundation continued its steady transformation from what was a sedentary subsidiary just five years ago to an active contributor in helping address issues facing communities of every size today.

Last year, we also made intentional strides in advancing our commitment to diversity and inclusion, which has been our collective priority for several years. ACCE released a groundbreaking report, Diversity and Inclusion for the 21st Century Economy: An Imperative for Chambers of Commerce, providing members with a useful tool to champion inclusion in their communities. And we marked successful completion of the inaugural cohort of the Leadership Diversity program, which is designed to provide professional development for targeted chamber leaders from underrepresented populations.

Introduced two years ago in the Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025 report, the original Eight Influences have inspired strategy and sparked innovation at chambers coast-to-coast and beyond. More recently, it has been personally rewarding to watch chambers take Horizon from theory to implementation.

To provide support for that shift, we launched a new platform to highlight curated examples of Horizon implementation from the field. Visit to find expanded resources — from and for members — focused on community advancement. This new digital platform was the last big contribution to the cause from long-time Vice President Ian Scott, before leaving ACCE to take a senior leadership role at Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. And like every piece of the Horizon project, the new platform was inspired by members and launched with support and leadership from the board of directors.

Perhaps you noticed the very recent addition of a ninth influence, called Limitations of Government. The newest influence, published in the spring 2017 issue of Chamber Executive magazine, takes a deeper look at the important role chambers can play to address inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of government systems. Along with sharing anecdotal support, we share tips for chambers to consider when facing government and governance challenges.

With member service in mind, ACCE grew and solidified our internal team, blending the fresh perspectives of talented new hires with the wisdom of successful and more seasoned staffers. As Mick Fleming prepares for his own transition, the strong leadership of past board chair Roy Williams and the 15-person search committee provides a clear path forward for the century-old organization. Input collected from the board of directors and members ensures that Sheree Anne Kelly, our new president and CEO, understands the aspirations, needs and concerns of chamber professionals everywhere.

Of course, Mick is not the only Baby Boomer in retirement mode. Similar transitions of long-time leaders occurred nearly weekly over the past year. Mick and his valued team helped scores of members with their succession plans, from coaching search committees and hunting for talent to warmly orienting new CEOs to this business we all love.

The excitement, challenges and victories in recent months and with each passing year makes time seem to fly by. Given the activity, work, fun and struggle each of us in the chamber profession experience daily, it seems only reasonable that even more time must have passed to be able to get it all done. Like leaders before us, we depend on each other for resources, guidance, rejuvenation and mentorship. And with you by our side, those trusted connections will continue to blossom as ACCE pledges to provide leadership to the profession for the many years ahead.


Top 5
States with the most members:
Texas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and New York

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New members welcomed

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Total attendance at convention, special events, meetings and other in-person gatherings

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ACCE-hosted online learning experiences

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Questions answered by HERO

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Downloads from Samples Library

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Views of Chamberpedia resource pagess

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Questions answered by HERO

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Downloads from Samples Library

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Views of Chamberpedia resource pagess

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1 in every 5
Members participated in Operations Survey

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People engaged with tools and info through 19 Weekly email campaigns

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States visited for Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025 presentations


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