Retiring President/CEO Leaves Lasting Impact

Every year the chair of the board is asked to provide an outgoing column in the W.A.C.E. Insider newsletter. Traditionally, the chair of the board is asked to recap his or her year; highlighting the various mission driven programming that assisted our members and our industry. That’s something I could certainly do here.

I could talk about the invaluable webinar series we did this past fall and winter. I could highlight the various workshops W.A.C.E. has facilitated, like the volunteer leadership workshop we hosted. I could go into detail about the importance of the board basics video series which our members can share with their respective boards.

Or I could highlight the constant outreach that our association provides to local chambers and our members throughout the West through W.A.C.E. President and CEO Dave Kilby.


I’ll save all of that for another time because I’d like to take this time to dedicate this column to the individual named above, our president and CEO, Dave Kilby. Many of you know by now that Dave announced his retirement in the fall of 2022. By the time you are reading this, he will be conducting and performing his final duties as our chief executive at this year’s annual W.A.C.E. conference in Sacramento. I am confident that many will have taken the time to wish Dave well and reminisce about all of the good ol’ days.

Now let me be very clear, no simple column in a newsletter will be able to do proper justice in celebrating Dave and what he’s contributed to this organization. However, this is a short and poor attempt to do just that.

You see, Dave has been at the helm of our association for 34 years. In those years, he has made an impact on thousands of individuals, mentored hundreds of chamber of commerce professionals, and assisted many of us in getting out of a few “jams” with our volunteer leaders and boards — to say the least!

To try to recap the career of one Dave Kilby would take a book to encapsulate…and then some. And that’s just with his W.A.C.E. hat on, as much more time (and space) would be needed to recap his California Chamber of Commerce career. It goes without saying, Dave’s fingerprints are everywhere when it comes to all things chambers of commerce professional development, and the impacts he has had on so many throughout his time leading our association. There is no simple way to just say “thank you,” nor should there be.

Indelible Mark

I know I speak for many of us in saying that there is no proper way to fully honor Dave due to the number of lives he has touched, careers he’s affected, and the indelible mark he will leave on our industry. I’m a prime example as I know I owe much of my success in my career, and in our industry, to Dave.

One of my mentors (and Dave could certainly be included in this group) would cite change management expert and author Price Pritchett from his book New Work Habits For A Radically Changing World. In it, Pritchett gives the advice: “Add enough value so that after you have left everyone will know something very important is missing.”

I know this will be said of Dave Kilby when he no longer serves at the helm of this organization. I hope you will join me when appropriate at our annual conference as we celebrate Dave and raise a pint and say thank you Mr. Dave Kilby!

Article by Jeremy Harris, ACE, IOM, president and CEO, Long Beach Area (CA) Chamber.