Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Adkisson will retire effective October 2019 after a 14-year tenure at the state’s premier business advocacy organization, the Chamber announced Thursday. A nationwide search for Adkisson’s replacement has started.
Under Adkisson’s leadership, the Kentucky Chamber doubled in size, increased its staff to 40 professionals including a team of staff lobbyists, created the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center and the Leadership Institute for School Principals, expanded its headquarters in Frankfort and placed an emphasis on public policy, government relations and improving education.
Among many other accomplishments, the Kentucky Chamber also became the first state chamber in the country to hire a professional reporter to cover state government news for a business audience and was recognized as the 2017 State Chamber of the Year by the national Council of State Chambers.
“During Dave’s 14-year tenure, he has been a tremendous value driver for Kentucky Chamber members and for all of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Kentucky Chamber Board Chair and LG&E KU Energy President Paul Thompson said. “His vision and leadership on a broad spectrum of Chamber interests has built today’s strong and vibrant Chamber that has achieved many business community goals and positioned us well for future gains. His caring and upstanding qualities have allowed him to be the ideal person to collaborate with all various constituents involved with advancing the Commonwealth.”
Adkisson, 65, is a native of Owensboro,where he began his career working for the local chamber of commerce. At age 34, he was elected mayor of Owensboro and re-elected without opposition four years later.
He was recruited in 1999 to become president of the Birmingham, Alabama, Chamber of Commerce and served five years in that post before returning to Kentucky. He since has become the longest-serving president of the Kentucky Chamber in its 75-year history.
Major policy changes beneficial to Kentucky’s business community and the state’s advancement were achieved during Adkisson’s time at the helm of the Chamber. These include pension reforms in 2013, right-to-work legislation in 2017, comprehensive workers’ compensation reforms in 2018 and others.
“It’s been a fantastic honor to be on such a winning team and to work with so many talented business leaders across Kentucky,” Adkisson said. “It’s now time for me to turn things over to someone else. I’ve offered the Chamber Board of Directors my help in assuring a smooth transition between now and my retirement in October. Meanwhile, we’ve got some exciting projects that I want to either see completed or ready to hand off to the next Chamber president.”
Waverly Partners, a firm that specializes in executive searches for chambers and economic development groups, has been chosen to conduct the national search for Adkisson’s successor. The Chamber Board has appointed an eight-person search committee made up of Chamber Board members to handle the leadership transition.