Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce Names New President & CEO
by Tanner Smith
Chamber News, Member News
| Contact: Robert F. Hatcher, Jr. / Search Chairman |
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SEPTEMBER 23, 2022
GREATER MACON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
ANNOUNCES NEW PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO)
MACON, GA – September 23, 2022– The Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce has named native Macon resident Jessica Walden as President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Through its leadership and advocacy for more than 800 members, the Chamber of Commerce encourages the growth of existing industries and businesses, while giving all proper assistance to any new firms or individuals looking to locate to Macon. The chamber strives to support all activities believed to be beneficial to the community, and in general seeks to enhance the standard of living for Macon area citizens.
The chamber’s board of directors voted to approve Walden for the position after a search committee that reported to the board of directors conducted an extensive nationwide search. The chamber retained Anissa Starnes, IOM with YGM Total Resource Campaigns, LLC to provide oversight for the executive search. Starnes specializes in executive searches for chambers of commerce.
Walden will begin work soon after the start of the fourth (4th) quarter of 2022.
“It’s an incredible honor to be selected to lead my hometown’s Chamber and join the team of the most significant organized business community in Macon-Bibb,” said Walden. “When I began my career 22 years ago, I became deeply committed to our community’s vitality. Working in community and economic development, communications and program management, as well as the experience of being a small business owner, has prepared me for this position. Thank you to the Chamber board of directors, the search committee and to those who have invested in our Chamber’s mission. To be selected as president is a testament to a new era of relevancy, connection and inclusion at the Greater Macon Chamber. I look forward to jumping in and working with the staff, members and leadership team to move the mission of the Macon Chamber forward.”
Walden currently serves as Business and Leadership Advisor for the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, where she connects business owners and community-based organizations with programs and services that provide education and opportunities for growth. She also supported nonprofit organizations and chambers of commerce across the State to launch leadership programming and services that address talent retention, workforce development, entrepreneurship, diversity, equity and inclusion and sustainable community transformation. She recently received certification as an Economic Development Professional (EDP) in Entrepreneur-led Economic Development from the International Economic Development Council, being the first in Georgia to hold this certification. Walden has been active with the Georgia Economic Developers Association and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Executives Association. She has completed Georgia Tech’s Basic Economic Development coursework focused on innovative community development, regional economics and trends and techniques in economic development and is a graduate of Georgia’s Academy for Economic Development. She is also a graduate of Leadership Georgia and Leadership Macon and is a former trustee of Leadership Georgia. Currently she serves on the board of Montessori of Macon and previously served on the boards of the Bragg Jam Festival and Otis Redding Foundation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree with a Minor in English from Georgia State University, where she graduated Cum Laude.
Robbo Hatcher, chair of the search committee said, “The interest level and response to our search from across the country was high. We had over 50 total applicants and many qualified candidates. We had an outstanding and strong committee leading this charge. Jessica Walden stood out to us, and we believe was the best fit for our community, and the ideal choice for our chamber. It just so happens she was already here in Macon. Through every step of the process, she continued to rise to the very top as the perfect choice to lead our Chamber.”
Chair of the Board for the Greater Macon Chamber, Dr. Ivan Allen said “The search committee, along with Anissa Starnes of YGM, were committed to the strenuous process of vetting all of our candidates and we are all excited to welcome Jessica to this position and believe that her infectious enthusiasm for Macon and her leadership and strong business acumen will be a great fit for the Chamber. We believe she will keep the organization on a path of success for the future.”
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