Academy Remains Strong in Anniversary Year

Glenn Morris, ACE
Glenn Morris, ACE

Last month, the W.A.C.E. Academy started its 20th year as our association’s premier professional development course. One hundred twenty-plus local chamber professionals (a sell-out attendance) gathered to dig into best practices in fundamental management and leadership topics.

W.A.C.E. Academy is a three-year program that ensures local chamber professionals (CEOs and staff) are grounded in the foundational knowledge and skills essential to leading a high-performing, high-value chamber. Academy is central to W.A.C.E.’s goal of advancing chamber management as a profession and career. Academy graduates return to their chambers prepared to lead membership-based nonprofit organizations, maximize the contributions of volunteers, and deliver results on key local issues and business needs.

Equally as important as the professional skills and knowledge gained through Academy participation, the connections class members build with each other and with the industry leaders who volunteer as staff and faculty are invaluable. As W.A.C.E. President Emeritus Dave Kilby was fond of saying, the connections you make at Academy can literally save your job one day!

Steering Committee

Academy continues to deliver each year because of the contributions of many chamber leaders who volunteer to ensure the future of our industry. Much appreciation is owed to the amazing individuals who served with me on the Academy Steering Committee this year, including:

  • Sheri Heiney, Prescott (AZ) Chamber;
  • Jill Lagan, ACE, Boulder City (NV) Chamber;
  • Wendy Laros, Kona-Kohala (HI) Chamber;
  • Jenny MacMurdo, Pacific Grove (CA) Chamber;
  • Jake Mangas, Redding (CA) Chamber;
  • Chris Romer, ACE, Vail Valley (CO) Partnership;
  • Zeb Welborn, ACE, Chino Valley (CA) Chamber;
  • Kami Welch, ACE, Arvada (CO) Chamber.

The Academy Steering Committee’s charge is to ensure that the program remains an incredible experience, both in terms of the content taught and the professional networks created. The committee regularly reviews the curriculum to ensure that we are covering the 18 most important foundation topics to ensure successful chambers today. The committee also is responsible for ensuring that we recruit the best chamber professionals as volunteer instructors.

Academy Instructors

Thanks as well to those who volunteered their time to support their colleagues as Academy instructors, including:

  • Molly Alcorn, Alcorn Law;
  • Whitney Diver McEvoy, Yountville (CA) Chamber;
  • Tallia Hart, Healdsburg (CA) Chamber;
  • Jim Johnson, Pearland (TX) Chamber;
  • Dave Kilby, W.A.C.E.;
  • Wendy Laros, Kona-Kohala (HI) Chamber;
  • Jake Mangas, Redding (CA) Chamber;
  • Kristen Miller, Santa Barbara South Coast (CA) Chamber;
  • Nick Ortiz, W.A.C.E.;
  • Tom Pierson, former president/CEO, Tacoma-Pierce County (WA) Chamber;
  • Chris Romer, ACE, Vail Valley (CO) Partnership;
  • Kyle Sexton, Chamber Think Strategies;
  • Amy Shields, Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE).
  • Katie Stice, Rancho Mirage (CA) Chamber;
  • Mark Turner, City of Morgan Hill;
  • Kami Welch, ACE, Arvada (CO) Chamber;

Registration for the 2024 Academy will open in March of next year. If you’re ready to invest in your own chamber career — and in the professional success of your team — Academy is your right next step. I look forward to welcoming you as a member of the 2024 First Year Class!

Glenn Morris, ACE, is the president/CEO of the Santa Maria Valley (CA) Chamber and the W.A.C.E. Academy Steering Committee Chair.