Community leaders form search committee for the new chamber CEO

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Jul 31

Chamber Admin

Community leaders form search committee for the new chamber CEO

Posted by Chamber Admin

Community leaders form search committee for the new chamber CEO

By Kevin Patterson

Like the communities it serves, the Greater Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce has grown and changed considerably over the past decade, with more to come. The importance of understanding and harnessing change to benefit the Chamber’s members will be the responsibility of a new executive director soon, which is why the Chamber is advertising in multiple states in search of the next CEO.

The current CEO, Sue VanRuff, is retiring Oct. 31, ending more than a decade of energetic leadership that has seen the organization recover from near-collapse to a robust membership of more than 250 businesses, organizations and individuals. Keeping those members and adding new ones is critical to the Chamber’s future. So is ensuring that those members are well served.

“Some of the biggest challenges are going to be filling a role that has been filled quite well,” Chamber Board President Bryan Kelley said. “Any time you walk into somebody’s shoes that is a high performer, the expectation is set at a high threshold.”

The new CEO will be expected to build upon relationships and accomplishments forged during the past decade. According to the job description that is posted on the Chamber’s web page, the new CEO will operate based on the organization’s core competencies: Create a strong local economy; promote the community; provide networking opportunities to build business relationships; and represent the interests of business with government.

“What we’re looking for is somebody who is dynamic, understands the role of chamber, somebody who has experience in a public or nonprofit organization and most of all, who understands business,” Kelley said.

Kelley said the skills and experience required for the job prompted the board of directors to expand the search beyond Maple Valley and Black Diamond. “It’s not to exclude anyone from the community but it’s not just a localized position,” he said” You have to cast the net far and wide to find the perfect fit.”  Click here for the full job description.

The application period closes on Aug. 10; applicant screening begins Aug. 12. A search committee of community leaders and board members will work with VanRuff to review each application and select a pool of finalists, who will be invited to meet with the committee and the chamber board to interview in mid-September. A final selection and job offer is expected to be made by the end of September. The new CEO will begin work on Nov. 1.

The decision to have a committee of community leaders to assist in the process is indicative of the Chamber’s commitment to serve the entire community as well as the business community. That commitment is one of the unique challenges that a new CEO must understand and embrace, Kelley said.

“One of the biggest goals is going to be getting the person into the mold of understanding of what ‘live here, work here, play here’ means and the alignment we have with community,” he said. “You don’t see that in every chamber.”

The committee assisting in the CEO search includes Tahoma School Board member Mary Jane Glaser, Maple Valley Fire and Life Safety Chief Brad Doerflinger, Johnson’s Home and Garden co-owner J. Johnson, and Chamber board members Jim Flynn and Bryan Kelley ; Gary Habenicht is facilitating the process.