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With a little more than four months left in Quad Cities Chamber CEO LaDrina Wilson’s 18-month contract, the business and development organization is seeking an experienced leader with a bold vision for the region to replace her. The chamber search committee includes: co-chairs, Molly Foley of IMEG Corp. and Caitlin Russell of Russell Construction; and committee members, Mara Downing of Deere & Co., Ben Keith of MidAmerican Energy, Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn and Randy Moore of Iowa American Water. The panel is working with the search firm Waverly Partners to find a replacement for Ms. Wilson, who also is the owner and CEO of Iman Consulting. Her interim chamber contract ends on Jan. 31, 2024. “The search is currently underway,” said Ms. Downing, the chamber board’s current president and the vice president of Global Brand Management and Corporate Communication at John Deere. “We‘ve spent time giving consideration to the needs of the community and we developed a profile that articulates what we’re looking for in an ideal candidate. We feel confident the search firm will have quality candidates for us to begin interviewing this fall.”
Vision, experience soughtWhat kind of leader does the chamber require? "Our region needs leadership with a bold vision — a vision and experience that supports the business and economic growth opportunities that exist in this area,” said Ms. Wilson, who has held the temporary CEO post since July 5, 2022. “I hope that we find a candidate who can appreciate the complexities of a bi-state region. We need a leader who can coalesce the public and private sector around land development in a strategic fashion,” she told the QCBJ. The current job description for that position posted on chamber's website here calls it “an outstanding opportunity for an established executive to lead and grow a successful chamber and economic development organization in a dynamic, bi-state community with two distinct political and economic environments.” Waverly Partners also was the search firm that helped bring Paul Rumler back to lead the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, where he had first cut his economic development teeth from 2006 to 2016. After returning to the Quad Cities after a stint at the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Chamber, Mr. Rumler led the Quad Cities chamber as CEO and president for four years before exiting in March 2022 to become CEO and executive vice president of CCIM Institute. Soon after, the QC Chamber’s then-Chief Strategy Officer Mike Oberhaus left the organization to join Mr. Rumler at CCIM. During that pair's QC tenure, the region captured key development projects including the Amazon Fulfillment Center now nearing an opening date and the Fair Oaks Farms’ fully cooked bacon production facility still awaiting completion in Davenport.
Wilson steps up to leadIn the wake of their departure, Ms. Wilson – a QC chamber board member and the founder and CEO of IMAN Consulting Quad-Cities – stepped in to lead the organization while the chamber’s earlier search firm, Jorgenson Consulting, assisted the organization in the search for a new leader. The chamber board later announced at its August 2022 annual meeting that it had hired Ms. Wilson on an 18th-month contract. Ms. Wilson said then that her chamber CEO role included leading the organization’s completion of a regional analysis and a strategic plan. Now the chamber is looking for a new director who will lead that vision and the organization that has over 1,200 members and serves the six-county region of Henry, Mercer, and Rock Island counties in Illinois; and Muscatine, Clinton, and Scott counties in Iowa. With more than 30 staff members and an active 30-member board of directors, the Quad Cities Chamber also said it provides a wide variety of programs and services for members. They include: networking; communication and relationship-building events; economic development activities; downtown development; leadership programs; small business support and entrepreneurial development initiatives; educational partnership programs; military affairs and government advocacy activities. The CEO reports to the chair of a 10-person Executive Committee of the board of directors. The new leader will be responsible for the overall leadership and strategic development of the organization, its membership, and its programs along with directing the work of the chamber staff.
Qualifications soughtHe or she also will be a key representative and advocate for business owners and employers, accountable for providing executive leadership, strategic direction, and vision for developing and fulfilling the chamber’s mission. The CEO will be involved in high-level interactions with executives and industries, educational leaders, community organizations, foundations, and government officials on economic and community development. Qualifications being sought include:
- A demonstrated track record of success and may come from a variety of backgrounds such as: serving as the top executive within a progressive and comparably sized economic development-focus organization; proven experience as a No. 2 or other senior-level executive at a larger as noted above; or an executive from a complex private or public sector entity.
- A minimum of 10 years of progressively responsible experience along with a minimum of five years of direct management experience.
- Can demonstrate a consistent and measurable track record of achieving goals and objectives in leadership positions.
- A bachelor’s degree is required and an advanced degree is desirable.
- Deborah M. Galbraith, managing director & principal, Waverly Partners, (785) 856-9273
- Eric N. Peterson, managing director & principal, Waverly Partners, (440) 892-5961.