CEO Search

President & Chief Executive Officer Position Profile

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce


The Opportunity

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Frankfort, Kentucky is seeking a self-motivated, accomplished executive as its next President & Chief Executive Officer. The CEO will work with an engaged Board and committed staff to lead the Chamber as the major catalyst, consensus builder and advocate for a thriving economic climate in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The CEO is charged with guiding the Kentucky Chamber in its mission to support a prosperous business climate in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and advance Kentucky through advocacy, information, program development and management, and customer service in order to promote business retention and recruitment.

The new CEO will oversee and manage all aspects of the organization, with a particular focus on strengthening the state’s ability to attract, keep, and grow jobs; facilitating awareness around various infrastructure and growth needs to enable companies to flourish in Kentucky; and keeping up with top trends and policies that affect the bottom line and vitality of companies of all sizes and stages of development.

The selected candidate will function as the chief strategist, advocate, and collaborative team leader – especially in regard to advocacy and overall program development. This executive will lead a Chamber that is results oriented, deliberate, and entrepreneurial in providing visionary, action-oriented leadership dedicated to flexible thinking around business issues and non-partisan consensus building.


The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is the state’s premier advocate for the business community with a mission to advance an economic climate that enables members, their employees and all citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to prosper and create jobs. The leaders of the Kentucky Chamber believe there is a need for private-sector business people to provide bold leadership for a state with many challenges and opportunities, rather than to rely solely on the public sector for vision and leadership.

The organization has over 3,800 members including businesses of all sizes and from all industry sectors, along with nonprofits, trade associations, local chambers of commerce and individuals. In recognition of its impactful advocacy, creative programs and fiscal strength, the Kentucky Chamber was named the 2017 State Chamber of the Year by the Council of State Chambers.

Chamber staff and key volunteers are actively engaged in promoting the Chamber’s mission to local, state and Federal government leaders. In Kentucky, the General Assembly is comprised of the 38-member Senate (4-year terms) and 100-member House of Representatives (2-year terms). The Assembly convenes in January with legislative sessions lasting 60 days in even-numbered years and 30 days in odd-numbered years.

The Chamber’s Legislative Agenda for this 2019 session is based on the organization’s Four Pillars of Prosperity, priorities that will help chart a path toward a more competitive Kentucky. The Four Pillars are:

  • A healthy and skilled workforce;

  • Effective and efficient state government;

  • 21st century infrastructure; and

  •  Quality jobs.

 In an effort to impact this agenda, Chamber staff and volunteers are engaged in a number of partnerships, coalitions, committees and political activities. The Chamber’s extensive public affairs efforts include active Councils, Committees and Task Forces centered on Education & Workforce, Competitiveness, Health and Wellness Policy, Energy and Environment Policy, Small Business Policy, Tax Policy, Pension Reform, and Local Chambers. The Chamber also operates the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management and the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame through management contracts.


The Kentucky Chamber Foundation is a 501(c)3 affiliate of the Chamber and has grown significantly in the last decade, raising $316,000 in 2008 with projections to raise over $1.7MM and generate contract revenue in 2019. The Foundation supports key initiatives including the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center LLC (formed in 2017 and the first of its kind in the nation), the Leadership Institute for School Principals and the Business Education Roundtable. The Foundation has also just launched Red River Economic Development LLC, an initiative to provide seed resources in an effort to expand the tourism economy and explore the possibilities for a resort in Eastern Kentucky. The Chamber has also developed its own news site, The Bottom Line, which monitors the progress and facts of business-related legislation and provides extensive coverage on complex policy issues in a way that can be easily understood by all the citizens of the Commonwealth.

The Chamber is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, which is comprised of approximately 60 business leaders from every geographic region across Kentucky. The Board also represents diverse sectors of commerce, ensuring that every major category of business has a voice in Chamber affairs. The Chamber also has an active Political Action Committee, governed by a 10-member Board, which provides financial support for candidates and issues and a 501(c)4 issues advocacy committee which provide financial support for legislative candidates and issues.


The organization has a staff of 40 and a 2019 budget of approximately $7.6MM. Revenue is generated from membership dues, seminars and events, sponsorships, publications and various other income sources. In addition, the Chamber has steadily increased annual philanthropic support through the Chamber Foundation and projects donations to reach $1.7MM in 2019. The Chamber has a strong balance sheet and a history of financial stability.


More information on the Chamber is available on its website:


The Chamber’s President & CEO David Adkisson is retiring after 14 years with the organization. As a result, the Board of Directors has embarked on a national search to recruit a new CEO to guide the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and its prominent business leadership activities within the state.

The Position


The President & Chief Executive Officer is based in the Chamber offices at 464 Chenault Road, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601; telephone (502) 695-4700. The Chamber offices are currently over 17,000 sq.ft. and includes state-of-the-art technology. The organization is planning to expand the facility with an additional 5,000 sq.ft. of office space in 2019.


Reporting Relationships

The President & Chief Executive Officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce reports to the Chair and works closely with the 14-member Executive Committee of the 60-member Board of Directors; the CEO is a member of the Executive Committee as well. The Executive Committee meets monthly and the Board meets quarterly. There are also 14 ex officio Board members, all of whom are executive leaders of other Kentucky-based chamber, economic development and educational organizations.

The CEO supervises the Senior Vice President-Administration, Senior Vice President-Public Affairs, Senior Vice President-Business Services, Senior Vice President-Membership & Marketing, Vice President of Finance and CFO, and Executive Assistant; a total staff of 40 people. Four staff members including the President & CEO are registered lobbyists.


Other important interactions include: executives and employees of member organizations; state and national elected officials and their staffs in Kentucky and in Washington D.C.; state agency heads and their representatives; representatives and executives of local chambers statewide; executives at other business-focused organizations and associations; professional associations including especially the Council of State Chambers (“COSC”); labor leaders; college, technical school and university leaders; and members of the media.


Position Charter


The President & Chief Executive Officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is the chief strategist, operations, policy, and administrative officer. The CEO is responsible for providing and executing strategic leadership for the organization by working with the Board and management team to establish long-range goals, strategies, plans and policies. This individual also serves as the chief spokesperson for the Chamber in working with an array of constituents including members, the business and professional community, the Legislature, the Governor, the media and citizens around the state.


Major Duties and Responsibilities


  • Public Policy Engagement/Leadership: Together with the Board, Chamber staff, a team of policy consultants, and volunteers, maintain strong communication and relationship with public policy leaders for the purpose of advancing the business agenda in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Lead and/or direct lobbying activities within the state legislative and regulatory bodies regarding issues of priority for the Chamber and state business.

  • Planning: In coordination with Executive Committee, Board committees and staff, responsible for preparing annual plans, goals and objectives in line with the Chamber’s strategic plan and the Four Pillars for Prosperity strategic plan for Kentucky. Develop, evaluate and advise on the impact of long-range planning, introduction of new programs/strategies and regulatory actions. Plan, develop, and establish policies and objectives of the organization in accordance with Board directives.

  • Membership and Member Relations: Establish credibility throughout the organization and with the Board as an effective developer of solutions to marketing and membership challenges. Oversee activities related to maintaining effective membership and member relations across the state. Maintain communication with members through on- site visits, publications, and electronic and social media.

  • Collaborative Liaison Roles: Build upon and enhance relationships, ongoing interaction and liaison with a wide constituency including:

    • Board of Directors: Earn and maintain the respect and confidence of the Chamber Board. Responsible for preparing meeting agendas, carrying out plans and programs of the Executive Committee and Board in accordance with established policies, serving as representative of the Board for all contacts with Chamber staff, initiating programs for consideration, and advising the Executive Committee and Board on all matters under consideration.
    • Chamber Members: Responsible for motivating members to personally and financially support an aggressive Chamber advocacy program, analyzing and interpreting the needs of members and recommending revisions in the program of work to make membership more valuable. The CEO serves as “the public face” of the Chamber and must be open to suggestions, proposals, and requests from the members and translate them into action consistent with the fundamental objectives and policies of the Chamber.
    • Committees and Councils: Active engagement with volunteer leadership of the Chamber’s Committees, Councils and Task Forces on operational and policy activities. Serve as staff member as appropriate and work with volunteers and staff on key issues for legislative action.
    • Public Officials: Establish and develop relationships with legislative and regulatory contacts within the state and in Washington D.C.
    • Education: Develop and maintain strong relationships within the state’s education system; collaboratively seek solutions to workforce readiness and availability issues.
    • Other Relationships: Work with Kentucky’s three metro chambers and approximately 80 other local chambers, business organizations, and businesses in coordinated lobbying activities, educational programming, member discount programs, professional development, etc. As appropriate, serve in various positions on other organizations’ boards and committees, such as advocacy, workforce development, etc.

  • Communication: Serve as the chief spokesperson for the Chamber and communicate the organization’s position on public and political issues. Make effective, persuasive speeches and presentations on controversial and complex issues or topics. Deliver regular communications with members, officers, elected officials, local chambers, news media, civic organizations, etc. through The Bottom Line, Chamber publications, social media and related communication pieces. Plan and develop public relations policies to improve Chamber’s image and relations with membership base, employees and the public.

  • Chamber Staff: Responsible for employment, assignment of duties, supervision, training, periodic and annual evaluations and leadership of all Chamber staff. With Board input, develop plans to ensure continuity of management and possible succession. Foster daily working environment that values teamwork and ensure the highest levels of customer service and volunteerism.

  • Fiscal Management/Fund Development: In concert with the Board’s Executive Committee, develop the Chamber’s annual $7+MM budget. Direct and coordinate formulations of financial programs to provide funding for new and continuing operations to maximize returns, increase productivity and programs available to membership base. Serve as the primary fund raising and development executive for the organization by maintaining current and cultivating new funding relationships in support of the Chamber’s general operations along with specific events and programs.

  • Chamber Operations: Responsible for the internal structure of the Chamber to ensure that the organization is effectively managed to function with maximum efficiency. Establish/maintain policies and procedures in accordance with local, state and federal laws and regulations.

  • Other Duties: Perform other tasks and duties as assigned from time to time by the Board of Directors.




This position requires regular but planned travel throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky to connect with Chamber Board members, members at large and key business leaders. The CEO is also part of the Chamber’s team to meet with the state’s delegation and other federal agency leaders on periodic trips to Washington DC.




The President & Chief Executive Officer is expected to earn an attractive compensation package; appropriate benefits and some relocation assistance will be provided.


The Candidate


A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree in business, law, public administration or related field is preferred. If a candidate is currently working in the chamber or association profession, then a graduate of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management, Certified Chamber Executive or Certified Association Executive designation is desirable.

Professional Qualifications

The ideal candidate should have at least 15 years of progressive leadership experience and may come from a variety of executive roles including: the top executive of a successful state, large regional or large metropolitan chamber of commerce, or significant trade association. Consideration will also be given to persons currently serving as a “#2” or other senior-level executives at these organizations; an executive from a complex private or public sector entity who has strong business advocacy leadership experience.

Preferred Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Executive leadership experience (strong staff leadership and development; administrative ability).

  • Public policy (capacity to comprehend and communicate policy solutions, both internal to the Chamber and external to the state).

  • Political arena (experience developing effective working relationships with elected/appointed officials and their staffs).

  • Advocacy (demonstrated background of successfully influencing legislative activity).

  • Relationship development (partnered with a broad range of leaders, from Fortune 500 executives to entrepreneurs, from legislators to governors, from business organizations to higher education).

  • Board relationships (significant involvement with Board development, recruitment and governance).

  • Membership development (track record of membership retention, increased value and relevance).

  • Fiscal management (ability to manage financial affairs of an organization).

  • Communication (strong written communication, excellent presentation skills; understands appropriate use and power of social media).

  • Planning (experience in developing and implementing both operational and strategic plans).

  • Fund raising (successful funding activities including development programs and special events).

  • Media/public relations (articulates objectives and policy positions to the media and the community at large).

  • Varied industries (experience with diverse industries: manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, healthcare, financial services, tourism).

  • Sales orientation (ability to market and promote the Chamber and its programs and policy positions).

  • Regional knowledge (familiarity with the Commonwealth of Kentucky desirable).

Desired Personal Traits

  •  Integrity (possesses honesty and the highest ethical and moral standards; transparent; genuine).
  • Work ethic (the drive to work hard and achieve results; strives for next level of success).

  • Leadership (can position Chamber as a respected catalyst for building positive momentum in Kentucky).

  • Courage (shows backbone; doesn’t hesitate to appropriately challenge status-quo thinking and offer “truth to power”).

  • Vision (“outside the box” thinker; envisions “the big picture” beyond daily operations; and facilitates the development of a long-term vision for the Chamber and the Commonwealth.).

  • Human relations skills (good listener; relates well to people; builds constructive and effective relationships).

  • Teamwork (recognizes that many parties are necessary to accomplish big things; relishes in sharing credit with others).

  • Leading from behind (understands the importance of servant leadership; promotes and facilitates the Board’s agenda; does not seek the limelight or credit for a job well done).

  • Consensus-building (develops working relationships with various parties and encourages them to work together).

  • Influencer (able to affect or change discussions and actions around policy decisions and plans).

  • Political instincts and savvy (demonstrated ability to strategically navigate among individuals, especially elected officials and their staffs regardless of party affiliation).

  • Credibility (can command respect of Board, members, staff, legislators, regulators, business and regional leaders).

  • Collaborative (willingness and ability to work with and through others).

  • Management style (empowers and holds staff accountable; mentors their own professional development).

  • Inclusive culture (recognizes the value of all members and staff).

  •  Visibility (highly visible to staff, members, business leaders, legislators; active in the state and community).

  • Results oriented (demonstrated record of achievements; meets established goals and objectives).

  • Executive presence (polished; charismatic; self-confident).

  • Energetic (comfortable in a fast-paced environment).

  • Creative (provides ideas and able to envision nontraditional solutions to issues).

  • Intelligent (bright; street smarts and natural intelligence).

Challenges and Opportunity

The projected first year accomplishments for the new CEO of the Kentucky Chamber include:

  • Establish presence as Chamber’s President and become completely familiar with all operating aspects of the Kentucky Chamber including staff, finances, programs, and Board members. Demonstrate to all constituents a relatively seamless transition of executive leadership while following in the footsteps of a long tenured and successful predecessor.

  • Initiate formal and informal introductions and connections with all constituents across the state -- Chamber members, elected officials within the Kentucky legislature, Governor, state’s Washington delegation and other federal agency leaders, media, other business-focused associations and local chambers, etc. -- through varied communications and in-person gatherings and meetings with a goal of developing strong and trusting relationships.

  • In concert with the Board and staff, evaluate the strategic direction of the Kentucky Chamber through the review and development of strategic, operational and budgetary plans.

The President & CEO position of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is an outstanding opportunity for a chamber of commerce, association, private/public sector or other senior level executive to continue to expand the impact of a successful state chamber. Over the past several years, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has benefitted from solid financial performance, stable membership and continued strong influence as the voice of business for the state. However, there are continued challenges within the state business climate facing members of all sizes from pension reform, the breadth of healthcare services, opioid addiction, national/international competition, income and property tax structures, business regulations and workforce/job creation issues. The current make-up of the General Assembly presents both challenges and opportunities, making the Chamber’s role as the chief business and policy advocate of greater importance than ever. The CEO will encounter new opportunities to forge stronger relationships with members statewide and a continued need for and emphasis on non-partisan support for business. The CEO will have an opportunity to impact these areas and will achieve these goals with the support of a committed Board of Directors and dedicated staff team.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky/Frankfort and Lexington Area

Kentucky is a state diverse in business climate, geography and community. The Bluegrass State is home to almost 4.5MM people; its three largest metro areas are Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky (southern Cincinnati) and there is a second tier of communities including Bowling Green, Owensboro, Paducah, Elizabethtown-Hardin County, Ashland, Somerset and Pikeville. With a rich history, Kentucky has a diverse economy including horse breeding and racing, automotive, logistics/distribution, food & beverage, aerospace, primary metals, manufacturing, chemicals, plastics & rubber and healthcare. Residents of Kentucky enjoy an excellent quality of life with access to recreational, cultural and education opportunities throughout the state.


The Chamber’s offices are located in Frankfort, the capital city of Kentucky with a population of approximately 26,000 in a two-county region of over 71,000 people. Located off I-64 between Louisville and Lexington, the City of Frankfort is along the Kentucky River in the heart of Kentucky’s bourbon, horse and wine country. Approximately 20 of the Chamber staff live in Lexington, 5 in Louisville, approximately 12 in Frankfort and its surrounding counties, while two work remotely from San Antonio and Los Angeles.

Lexington is the 2nd largest city in Kentucky, with a population of over 300,000 and part of a 6-county MSA of over 500,000. Located 26 miles southeast from Frankfort, Lexington is served by both I-64 and I-75 along with two beltways into the heart of the community. Blue Grass Airport provides service to more than 1.3MM passengers annually through 4 major airline carriers. Lexington is home to the flagship campus of the University of Kentucky and its rich academic and storied sports tradition.


Residents of both Frankfort and Lexington enjoy an outstanding quality of life with attractive and affordable housing options, outdoor recreation with parks, lakes and woodlands for exploring, hiking and hunting. Educational opportunities include public and private schools along with its outstanding higher education environment. The area further offers exceptional health care, a variety of shopping and dining options, beautiful golf courses, and a wide variety of artistic and cultural events. For more information, please visit:


The client organization we represent and WAVERLY PARTNERS firmly support the principle and philosophy of equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of race, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability. If you are aware of an outstanding chamber, economic development, association or business executive who meets these requirements and may be interested in learning more about this impactful position, please email [email protected] or contact WAVERLY PARTNERS, the executive search firm retained by the Kentucky Chamber Board on this search and the “preferred provider” of executive search services of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.


  • Eric N. Peterson
    Managing Director & Principal WAVERLY PARTNERS
    Cleveland, Ohio (440) 892-5961
    [email protected]

  • B. Harrison Turnbull
    Managing Director & Principal WAVERLY PARTNERS Charlottesville, Virginia
    (704) 643-9394
    [email protected] 

Press Release

Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson to Retire October 2019

Click Here to Learn More

© Kentucky Chamber of Commerce · 464 Chenault Road · Frankfort, KY 40601 · (502) 695-4700