Chamber members and friends,
Two months ago, the Seminole County Chamber undertook a comprehensive review of our chamber, its hiring practices and our involvement in politics.
I’m proud of our efforts. We were diligent. We listened. We gave every opportunity to allow our members to openly express any concerns.
Here are the steps the chamber took over the past two months:
- Our board came together in September and held an executive session where board members could share their thoughts with each other.
- We encouraged anyone to send an email to us, which was shared with our Executive Committee.
- I personally talked with every one of our trustee members.
- We worked with high-performing chambers across the country searching for best practices in hiring.
- We performed a general survey of our membership to compare a survey taken in the summer of 2017.
- We offered any member who took the survey an opportunity for a phone call or coffee.
The result: the Seminole County Chamber is doing what it is supposed to do. We are bringing together businesses throughout the region, providing them opportunities to grow and diversifying our economy, making Seminole County the premier place to do business in Central Florida.
More than 90 percent of people who were surveyed said the Seminole County Chamber is on the right track
Even when we asked about our involvement in politics, people believed we should be doing what we have done: continue to provide the ability to connect with our elected officials, to be a source for information in a non-partisan manner and to activate our membership when there are issues that will impact our business community, especially small business.
In fact, after almost 100 negative stories that included our name in local media, we have found absolutely no evidence that our brand and our mission has been affected at all with our members and the people who support the Seminole County Chamber.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the Seminole County Chamber is strong.
And it should be without saying, we are thankful for Jason Brodeur’s efforts in leading our chamber. We are in a much better place today than we were when he started a decade ago.
That said, Jason expressed to me in September that he would not be seeking a renewal of his contract after December 31 when it expires.
Our leadership understood and accepted his request. At this point, we agree that having a president and CEO who is focused solely on the Chamber would be best for our organization now and we fully anticipate Jason’s responsibilities as our community’s State Senator will be - and should be - his primary focus.
Jason’s understanding of business issues will be tremendously valuable to our region and we look forward to supporting his efforts and working together to continue improving our economy.
One thing to be clear about is we have found absolutely nothing showing any chamber employee used any chamber asset to do anything illegal or anything we consider unethical.
As to the future of the Seminole County Chamber, our board believes we need to have continuity in our operations and our vice president, Rebekah Arthur, has proven to us she is ready to lead the Seminole County Chamber.
Effective January 1, 2023, Rebekah Arthur will be our new president & CEO.
Rebekah started as our event director in 2014 and proceeded to grow our events both in attendance and revenue. She’s been promoted many times, overseeing all aspects of our operation and is considered a regional leader in the association profession.
She was just appointed to the statewide board of the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals. In June, she graduated from a four-year intensive training effort with the U.S. Chamber’s Institute of Organizational Management, the premier nonprofit professional development program for association and chamber professionals.
We are looking forward to seeing her bring the Seminole County Chamber to even more greatness.
Finally, as to our hiring practices, we believe we have a procedure in place that ensures we find the best talent available. Very soon, you’ll meet our new event coordinator, who we hired using these new procedures.
We will also be starting the search for a new vice president to give Rebekah the support she needs. Please watch this space for more information when we announce the open position.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize the leadership of this chamber is pleased with where we are today.
We believe the Seminole County Chamber is performing its mission and we are excited about the future of our chamber and of Seminole County.
I look forward to serving you and working together to continue the progress we have made.
Seminole County Chamber
"In light of recently receiving my master's degree in public health and increased responsibilities in public office, I have decided to go back to consulting, which allows me much more flexibility with my time.
"After almost a decade at the Seminole County Chamber, I want to say thank you to the board and the staff for all of the success we have had over the years. From more than doubling revenue and membership, to state and national accreditation, we have become one of the most admired chambers in Florida with more cash on hand than ever before in history.
"We are healthier than ever and I look forward to experiencing our continued world-class service and programming as a member of the chamber. Thank you to all and I wish the organization continued success in the future."