I’m thrilled to be joining W.A.C.E. as its next president/CEO. W.A.C.E. is an incredibly powerful organization, built for chamber professionals, and empowering the industry to truly embody the role of their communities’ champions, conveners and catalysts.
The value of this organization isn’t just theoretical; for me, it’s personal. During my career as a local chamber executive, the association was a huge asset for me and my colleagues. The training and development provided through Academy is unparalleled; it was one of the best things I did both for my career and the local chamber I previously led.
The ability to assist our industry in meeting the challenges of today and the future, is a unique and exciting opportunity.
Future Role of Chambers
A few weeks ago, I joined W.A.C.E. President Emeritus Dave Kilby for his last Chamber Leadership Podcast. We talked about my background, but also what I thought about the role chambers will have in the future. My answer was long-winded yet simple. Chambers are positioned to be their communities’ problem solvers.
I think this is true for a variety of reasons, first going back to the foundational message of the W.A.C.E. branding project, that thriving communities are built on a foundation of successful businesses. Post-pandemic, I think there’s a lot more respect for our businesses and the central role they play in how a community defines itself.
Second, the chamber sits at the intersection of business, community and government. Chambers are the trusted parties that can bring those (at times disparate) world views together, to identify issues and work toward the solutions our communities need.
While I’ll continue to push and prod our local chambers to be engaged in advocacy, economic development and active in the political arena, being a problem solver is something any chamber can aspire to. Chambers of all sizes, funding models and program mixes can fulfill this role for their communities.
You don’t need a PAC, a huge staff or millions on deposit to show up in a positive way for your region and harness the power of the business community to make change. There are so many examples within our membership of chambers driving regional growth and delivering.
The coolest thing about my new job is the ability to work with all of you, the members of W.A.C.E. I can truly say that the work you do in your chambers and regions inspires me daily — as a fellow local chamber executive and now as your association staff. I look forward to connecting with you, learning from you and being a resource.
Nick Ortiz is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and vice president of local chamber relations at the California Chamber.