Archive for Friday, March 28, 2014

Lawrence chamber to focus first on local candidates to fill vacant CEO position

March 28, 2014


You could call it a different type of "shop local" campaign by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber leaders said Friday they will, for the moment, forego a national search for a new chamber president and CEO, and instead will focus on interviewing a group of candidates who already live in the community.

"Trying to bring in someone from the outside to understand Lawrence has been a challenge," said Doug Gaumer, chair of the chamber's selection committee. "Lawrence is a fantastic community, but it has some uniqueness. We think somebody with some local DNA will understand that better."

Chamber Selection Committee

Doug Gaumer, Intrust Bank

Mike McGrew, McGrew Real Estate

Brad Finkeldei, Stevens & Brand

Gene Meyer, Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Shannon Abrhamson, First Management

LaVerne Epp, Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority

Allison Moore, Colliers International

Cindy Yulich, Emprise Bank

Mark Kern, The Kern Group

Jason Edmonds, Edmonds-Duncan

Susan Tate, Lawrence Arts Center

Craig Weinaug, Douglas County

David Corliss, City of Lawrence

Rick Doll, Lawrence Public Schools

Tim Caboni, Kansas University

Gaumer said he's already received three resumes from local residents, whom he declined to name, and said he thinks the group could grow to six or more.

"They aren't traditional chamber people, but they have good private sector experience that I think will translate over well to the chamber," Gaumer said.

Gaumer said he expects the chamber's 15-member selection committee to conduct interviews in mid-April and determine by May whether they want to offer the job to a local individual. If not, Gaumer said the chamber then would undertake a national search.

The chamber is searching for a new CEO and president after Greg Williams resigned earlier this month after about two years on the job. Williams cited a desire to move back to Springfield, Mo., where his wife and children had remained.

Williams' successor will be the fifth CEO for the Lawrence chamber since longtime leader Gary Toebben left the job in 1999.

"We would like to have long-term leadership," said Brad Finkeldei, chair-elect for the chamber's board of directors and a member of the selection committee. "For various reasons that hasn't occurred."

Gaumer said there also could be other advantages to a local leader.

"A person who already lives here will understand the politics and the political process," Gaumer said. "Instead of resisting it, let's work within that process. That has always been tough with the previous CEOs that come from outside the community."

Gaumer said he also hopes a Lawrence candidate would be more likely to have strong relationships with existing businesses. Gaumer said the chamber wants a leader who can immediately begin working with existing local businesses on growing the community.

"We haven't done as good of a job of meeting with existing businesses to identify what they need to grow and be successful," Gaumer said. "We're going to get much, much better at that."


Richard Heckler 3 years, 12 months ago

After 30 years of putting locals out of business and being a partner in killing downtown what does that say?

Too much local special interest narrow vision and inability to pursue smart urban economics. CC loves economic displacement.

No matter who is chosen it's the executive board in the background dictating.

I say it is over due to cut off the several hundred thousand tax $$$$$$ a year to this chamber. This Chamber belongs to the white collar good ole boys and girls of the local real estate industry which will never change….. investors, builders,bankers and developers. Lost cause.

Steve Jacob 3 years, 12 months ago

Wanting local candidates is a code for needing someone now.

Julius Nolan 3 years, 11 months ago

So they are admitting that no one with any level of expertise would work for the idiots in the local C of C. So now they will try to find somebody desperate for a job to stay in Lawrence. In plain English a proven loser.

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