Academy-Plus Builds on Previous Training

Whitney Driver McEvoy
Whitney Diver McEvoy

Attending and graduating from W.A.C.E. Academy is one of my fondest memories as a chamber executive. I had the opportunity to grow my skills, learn how to run and manage a chamber of commerce, expand my network and meet lifelong friends. Over the course of the three-year program, I would look forward to going to Sacramento every August for Academy — ready to be inspired by my chamber colleagues and reinvigorated by the leaders in our industry.

Frankly, I was sad when I graduated and no longer got to head to Sacramento each August to meet up with my chamber friends and learn new things. Well, it turns out, I wasn’t alone!

Building on Academy

A few years ago, the W.A.C.E. Board of Directors created the program called Academy-Plus. Designed for Academy graduates, or those with IOM or ACCE accreditation, Academy-Plus takes place at the same time as Academy in Sacramento, in August. (YES!) Academy-Plus is a day-and-a-half program, designed to build on the education received at Academy.

The program features two sessions, one on chamber programming, the other on professional development. And of course, plenty of time to connect with chamber colleagues.

Relevant for All

This year, I have the privilege of chairing our Academy-Plus planning committee. We are developing curriculum that is both relevant and relatable to all chamber executives.

• First, we will be focusing on workforce development, a critical issue for our communities. Many chambers have strong workforce development programs, but it is becoming an expectation that we can play a bigger role in developing the skilled workforce our communities need.

This session will be led by Ron Painter, president and CEO of the National Association of Workforce Boards. Ron works with chambers and communities across the country. He will share demographic trends, how we can partner with education institutions, talent pipeline cultivation and much more.

• Second, we will be focusing on professional development, building a positive culture of belonging within our communities. As leaders, we often are standing in the breach — holding together the sane center while fighting off “negative Nancy” and staying positive.

This session will focus on developing the skills to create a culture of inclusivity and our role as a community builder. We will be looking at ways to maintain and project positivity, with your team, your community and yourself.

I hope to see you in Sacramento in August at Academy or Academy-Plus. Trust me on this one, you don’t want to miss it! You can register for Academy at

Whitney Diver McEvoy is CEO of the Yountville (CA) Chamber.