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Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, officially assumed position as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) at the recent ACCE Annual Meeting. ACCE is a global association supporting and representing the women and men who lead local, regional and statewide chambers of commerce and similar private sector-led economic and community development organizations around the world. The Alexandria, Va.-based association represents nearly 9,000 professionals who work for and with more than 1,300 chambers of commerce. The ACCE board chairs serve a one-year term and oversee activities of a 70-member board of directors that provides leadership and strategic direction to the association’s 25-person staff.

“Jay is a future-focused leader and a community builder. During this disruptive time, we are grateful for his leadership and confident that the industry will benefit from his creativity and strategic thinking,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “The role of chambers of commerce has never been more crucial. Our association is fortunate to have a strong executive committee to lead our efforts to help chambers address the greatest challenges facing their communities.”

Byers shared that chambers must continue to leverage top thought leaders, build on the ongoing work of the Horizon Initiative, and be proactive about responding to influences and mega-trends that continue to shape the future of the industry. Byers said that ACCE’s priorities for the year ahead include:
Innovation and Disruption: Help chamber leaders be more effective change agents to position their organizations and communities for future success.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Provide the chamber community with more DEI resources and training opportunities over the next year than we’ve ever done before.
Economic & Community Development: Support chamber efforts to lead through our current challenges and create opportunities for local economies and communities to thrive.

International Focus: Empower chambers to approach their work with a global perspective, whether advocating for trade to expand global markets and immigration reform to attract global talent or leading trade missions and recruiting foreign direct investment economic development deals.
Virtual Resources: Improve the association’s ability to showcase best practices, deliver helpful resources, facilitate peer learning opportunities and access professional development programing by launching an improved website and eLearning platform.
“As our industry continues to take on the challenges of COVID-19, racial inequity, unprecedented natural disasters and a toxic political climate, we can learn from lessons of the past and dig deep to find new innovative solutions as we lead our organizations and our communities into the future,” Byers said. “Let’s focus on the importance of civility and bringing our communities, states and country together to rise above our local and national challenges and do what is right.”

At the conference, Byers was also recognized as one of five chamber of commerce leaders from across the country to be awarded the Chairman’s Award from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). The Chairman’s Award is given annually to an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to the betterment of the chamber profession. Byers joins Christy Gillenwater with the Chattanooga Area Chamber, Bryan Derreberry with the Charleston Metro Chamber, Michael Huber with the Indy Chamber and Tim Giuliani, CCE, Orlando Economic Partnership in winning the award.

Prep Iowa

The awards were presented by 2019-2020 ACCE Board Chair David Brown, President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber. In his remarks, Brown explained how at the start of the pandemic, he pulled together this coalition of chamber leaders to help him think through the issues impacting communities locally, the industry as a whole and ACCE as an organization. He met with these leaders during weekly and biweekly calls to determine what best practices could look like and how best the industry could access the information.

“I found myself relying on this group more and more each week,” said Brown. “Their collective thoughts and ideas helped me formulate what I needed to do in Omaha and form the basis for the best practice emails that Sheree Anne [Kelly] has been distributing throughout this triple pandemic of disease, civil rights demonstrations and economic recession. I can’t thank them enough for their energy, wisdom, commitment and time.”

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