It’s probably an overused concept, but bittersweet really sums up the emotions of passing the gavel to the incoming chair.
The sweetness derives from so many sources: 1) the pride associated with our many successes this past year, 2) the deep relationships that have been cultivated and/or strengthened, 3) the excitement of turning my attention more fully toward my expanding business, and 4) the joy of watching my successor put his own touch on — and improve upon — the initiatives that we’ve started.
The bitter comes from the frustration of not having enough time to get everything else done. I guess every board chair experiences that to some degree. Luckily, the list of successes is much longer than the list of regrets.
Before I talk about the prior board year, I want to thank the dozens of great people who make the chamber work, including Ron Meliker and Greg Lowe, my predecessor and successor, respectively. For several years now, the past, present and future chairs have worked in lockstep to reach our objectives, and I thank Ron and Greg for continuing that tradition in service to our organization.
In addition, I had the pleasure of working with an enthusiastic, engaged board that was always ready to tackle the big issues, step up financially and marshal all of their resources to bring in new members and sponsors, which is an ongoing goal. Finally, the talented, hard-working chamber staff was stellar and unwavering in the face of shifting priorities and challenges.
Without question, the biggest success of the year was the inauguration of GovConnects, our initiative that serves government contractors and associated regional businesses who benefit from the federal government’s intelligence and defense operations. Several years in the making, I was in the room when the seed was planted, and having it blossom and bear fruit under my watch was very fulfilling, albeit very time-consuming.
I am confident that our focus on this important initiative is a long-term, strategic benefit to our goals of a) diversifying the chamber’s offerings, b) attracting new members, c) engaging larger, regional/national businesses, and d) making a real, positive impact on the regional business landscape.
As for the unfinished business, the most substantial unfulfilled goal is increasing membership. This is an ongoing endeavor, of course, that requires great focus on behalf of staff, directors and the existing membership, all of whom are juggling a multitude of other priorities. I will continue to do my part, as Ron so ably has done before me, to continue this mission and to advocate for all the greatness that the chamber brings to Howard County businesses.
It has truly been a distinct honor to serve as chair this past year, and I sincerely thank the membership for entrusting me with this important role. The future of the chamber is very bright, and I look forward to helping it achieve that glow from the perspective of the best role in all of nonprofit board governance … past chair!