Rachel Smith named Seattle Metro Chamber President & CEO

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 11/20/2020

Smith brings a practical, problem-solving, and active style to the Chamber's work to champion our region’s employers and jobs

Rachel Smith full imageThe Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce has selected Rachel Smith to lead the regional business association. 

“I am thrilled to welcome Rachel as the next president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Trustees. “Rachel is a champion for our region and brings experience that will make the Chamber a stronger advocate for its members and the broader business community. I am delighted that she will join us in January and drive our mission to protect and grow jobs, enable economic opportunity and equity, and galvanize action on critical regional issues like education, housing, transportation, and infrastructure.”

In her current role as King County Deputy Executive and Chief of Staff, Smith leads the County’s policy strategy and execution, oversees the County’s operations in partnership with the executive team, and serves and balances the interests of the 39 cities that make up King County. 

Birkett Rakow added, “This has been an unexpected year on all fronts, and I am grateful to our Board, as well as to Chamber executive vice president Markham McIntyre, who served as our interim CEO, and to the staff as a whole. Even in challenging times, the Chamber worked steadily to support our region’s businesses: from distributing millions of masks and face coverings, to providing over $1.6 million in assistance to small businesses, to integrating racial equity throughout our work.”

Smith was selected following an extensive, nationwide process led by a specially authorized search committee of the Board of Trustees. Her first day as Chamber President & CEO will be January 4, 2021.

"I am thrilled to be joining the Chamber team and am deeply appreciative of the trust the Board is placing in me to lead the organization through these unprecedented times," said Smith. "The jobs, prosperity, and community solutions that our region's employers bring are more important than ever as we focus on post-pandemic economic recovery. This is especially true of small businesses, who are the backbone of our region and the Chamber's membership. I have greatly valued working with the business community for many years on issues like transportation, and more recently on our community-wide response to COVID, and I look forward to that continued partnership in this new role."   

Search Committee co-chair Solynn McCurdy, Senior Vice President, Social Impact for BECU and Executive Director, BECU Foundation, said, “Rachel impressed our Search Committee with her deep commitment to a truly regional approach to the Chamber’s work. Her demonstrated ability to manage and drive change in a complex organization and to leverage strong relationships throughout our region, as well as her personal integrity, made her our unanimous choice for the Chamber’s next CEO.” McCurdy co-chaired the search with Colleen Kerr, Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations & Chief Legislative Officer at Washington State University.

Regional leaders from businesses of all sizes welcomed Smith:

 “As a small business owner facing the toughest circumstances that my crew and I have ever seen, I am counting on business organizations like the Chamber to advocate for me. Rachel Smith is the right leader for these times. She listens to small businesses, she knows how to get things done, and she is a champion for this region and its employers,” said Rachel Marshall, founder of Rachel’s Ginger Beer and a Chamber Board Trustee. 

“Rachel will be a strong leader for the business community,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft President. “Both before and even more during this pandemic, she has always shown up ready to listen, solve problems, and work with others. I look forward to having her as a business advocate at the Chamber and to working with her in this new role.”

“Rachel Smith is a pragmatic leader who brings together disparate views to generate real solutions for complex problems, and who can both think big about our region and execute to get things done,” said Phyllis Campbell, Chairman, Pacific Northwest - J.P. Morgan Chase. “I’m thrilled with this choice for CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber, and optimistic for the road ahead.”

Rachel Smith succeeds Congresswoman-elect Marilyn Strickland, who served as the Chamber’s CEO through January 2020.