Finding Opportunity in Our Leadership Transition

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 02/03/2020

Board Chair Diana Birkett Rakow shares our interim leadership plan and key initiatives ahead

Dear Seattle Metro Chamber members,

January 31 was Marilyn Strickland's last day as President and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Marilyn has been a clear and passionate leader for our regional business community. I'm grateful for her service to the Chamber, and for her dedication to public service and good government. I now look forward to watching her on the campaign trail and beyond.

Transitions are opportunities, and in this one the engagement of the Chamber team, members, Board members and other stakeholders has been inspiring. With your input and feedback, we'll build on the momentum created in the last few years, continue evolving with your input, and drive progress for business health in a more inclusive economy. Our shared goal during this transition is to set us up for further success as a champion for business and for a thriving and inclusive region.

After careful consideration of our leadership needs during this period, our Executive Committee has asked Markham McIntyre, the Chamber’s executive vice president, to serve as acting executive leader of the Chamber. As we discussed bringing in an external interim CEO, we realized through these discussions that we're excited to get into the full search, and that our current leaders, with increased support from our strong and diverse Board and input from all of you, have the strengths to lead through change.

This approach enables us to build on momentum and learnings of the last few months and years, while accelerating the search for our next permanent CEO. In the coming weeks, I will name co-chairs for the search process along with a search committee and timeline for the work.

While we conduct this search, the Chamber will continue to serve our members, create and execute events, and advocate for the business community. This work is guided by the three-year strategic plan developed with the Board last year.

We are also excited to drive some more specific initiatives based on member and Board feedback and energy, and our learnings from the past few months:

  1. Membership engagement – to listen to our diverse membership during this transition time
  2. Communications – to promote and humanize the benefits of business and its regional impact
  3. Policy engagement & analysis – including analysis of trends in our region and the work of our member-led Policy Leadership Group
  4. Evolving our approach to electoral politics – absorbing lessons learned and exploring updates to structure and approach to deliver the highest value to the business community and region as a whole
  5. Developing our civic agenda – defining ever more clearly what we stand for and why, and how we partner within and beyond the business community to go after it

This is an exciting time for the Chamber and an important opportunity for our members to be heard. Thank you for your membership, for your civic engagement, and for your contributions to our economy and society. Please don't hesitate to reach out and share your thoughts.


Diana Birkett Rakow
Board Chair