New Year, New Direction for Association

Lorraine ClarnoIt has been a true honor and privilege to serve as the chair of the board. We all knew that 2023 would be different for W.A.C.E. with Dave Kilby’s retirement after 30-plus years of steady and strong leadership.

Today, we find ourselves in an unfamiliar but extremely exciting and pioneering time for our organization. We are financially strong, our membership is thriving, and we are soon to be an independent professional development organization for the first time in our 100-year history.

Transition Ahead

After careful research and due diligence, your board and transition team decided to move from a management association structure and take our future into our own hands.

As you read this, the team should be in the final stages of finding our first CEO. As word of the new direction spread, we were overwhelmed with the expressed interest in the position from many experienced and qualified W.A.C.E members and chamber professionals.

It was imperative to the board to ensure transparency and remove all potential conflicts of interest and personal relationships in the process; therefore, we engaged a third-party professional recruiting firm to get us through the vetting process and to identify the final candidates.

The CEO interview panel will consist of current board members, past chairs of the board, and members at large. We will announce our new leadership in February if all goes as planned.

Strategic Plan

With your trust and support as our foundation, we are preparing to embark on another year of change, evolution, and improvement.

The incoming board, with your help and input at the conference and through additional communications, will work with the new CEO to develop and execute a three-year strategic plan to take W.A.C.E and its professional development and support of chamber of commerce professionals to new heights.

Huge thanks to my fellow board members who have navigated the past 12 months with steadfast commitment and provided their passion, expertise and direction. And a final heartfelt thank you to Jennifer Johnson for getting us to the finish line and the CalChamber for their years of support and partnership.

As many of us have heard for years — “Eat change for breakfast” (Kilbyism). It’s time to grab that extra-big cereal bowl and fill it with our favorite Lucky Charms!

I wish you all a very Happy New Year and a wildly successful 2024.

Lorraine Clarno, ACE, is president/CEO of the Discover Kalispell (MT) Chamber and 2023–2024 W.A.C.E. Board chair.