Chamber Succession Plan Moving

    GRAND RAPIDS — When Grand Rapids Area Chamber Commerce President John Brown reisgned last week, he left behind five years of hard work and a solid staff that will plan his succession and continue his work.

    The succession plan for Brown, who will leave his post Friday to become Jackson National Life Insurance Co.’s vice president of government relations, starts today, said Cindy Havard, the chamber’s board president.

    “The transition plan is still in motion,” said Havard. “We are accepting applications from everywhere, including internally. That is the great thing that John established, a great staff, so we would be happy to have someone internal or external.”

    Regardless of geographical background, there are qualifications Havard said the committee, which is being put together solely for this purpose, would be looking for in its next chamber president, including someone with good organizational skills, a college degree, public speaking ability and a dynamic personality.

    “This person needs to be able to take on a community,” she said. “Not only that but they need to understand our mission and have advocacy interests, which is something that was a passion for John and he did a tremendous job of putting together high profile programs. “

    Havard said whether the person hails from a for-profit or a nonprofit business, she said it is very important that they understand the business process and how to serve businesses. She noted that the job encompasses a wide array of tasks and no matter what the background of Brown’s successor the job description will stay the same. She is quite sure that whatever the new president’s passions are, they will be covered in the job description.

    And while Havard said the search will begin immediately for a new president, she said the committee will take its time to find the right candidate for the position.

    “We hope to have someone in place by the beginning of December or the first of the year,” said Havard. “This is a key position in the community and we are really going to take the time we need to coordinate this and get the right person in the position.”

    Until the perfect fit is found, however, Havard said the chamber will continue to function as before. She noted that all events that are planned are ready to continue and that Brown even has some things set for next year.

    “John built up an excellent staff, so in the short term we will function just fine,” said Havard. “He was a great leader and will be missed in the West Michigan community and Grand Rapids community.”

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