By Anna Alonso Olcese
Already ranked in the top 1% of chambers of commerce nationwide, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce continues to make strides in bolstering its efforts to grow business and increase its impact on the growth of the economy in Gainesville and Alachua County. In a little over a month, the Chamber has hired new leaders covering Economic Development, Chamber Development and Public Policy. By bringing in this world-class talent to Gainesville to support the local business community, the Chamber is setting the foundation from which to lead their talented team and build on recent successes.
“Every day I work with Chambers throughout the southeast, and it is clear that the team new President & CEO, Tim Giuliani, has assembled in Gainesville is a testament to his leadership and a sign of the great things to come,” said Moore Hallmark, Executive Director, Southeast Region, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
With the addition of Susan Davenport, Kamal I. Latham, and Deborah V. Bowie, the Chamber and Council for Economic Outreach (C.E.O.) have leadership teams that will steer Gainesville’s business community forward and continue to create jobs and strengthen the local economy. The new hires join the staff leadership team that already includes Vice President of Innovation Gainesville, Ann Collett, Vice President of Workforce, Ian Fletcher, and Director of Finance and Human Resources, Karen Fiore.
Susan Davenport – Vice President of Economic Development
It has long been said that Austin, Texas is the type of community that Gainesville could become: a city with a strong university presence and a thriving innovation economy. With that potential clearly in mind, Susan Davenport was brought on to provide leadership and expertise with the Chamber’s Council for Economic Outreach, assisting existing businesses through expansion, helping to grow new companies locally and attracting businesses from across the world. Davenport has spent the last 12 years with the Austin Chamber of Commerce in the economic development capacity, spending the last two years as Senior Vice President of Global Technology Strategies. As a key member for their “Opportunity Austin” strategy, she helped create over 174,000 new jobs and enhanced regional payrolls by $8.7 billion over an 8-year period from 2004 to 2012. This type of leadership sets the stage for accelerating the attraction of businesses, which have been highlighted by SumTotal Systems, Silver Airways, Mindtree Ltd. and Sears Holdings in recent years.
Kamal I.Latham – Vice President of Public Policy
The Chamber represents the interests of the business community on local, county and state levels, and through C.E.O. and Innovation Gainesville is focused on ensuring the business environment is conducive to fostering the growth and expansion of business. In recent months, the Chamber has taken positions on some key issues that face our community regarding transportation and energy solutions, and is letting its business-focused voice be heard. In an effort to further strengthen its impact on issues affecting business and the community as a whole, the Chamber has brought on Kamal I. Latham as Vice President of Public Policy. Latham boasts a strong political background, having been appointed by both Presidents Clinton and Bush as a career diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, and has won numerous awards for advancing U.S. economic interests overseas. Latham, who holds a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University, will strengthen the efforts of the Chamber to represent local business interests and create an environment that fosters business growth and expansion.
Deborah V. Bowie – Vice President of Chamber Development
Staying close to its primary mission to assist local businesses to grow and succeed, the Chamber brought in chamber of commerce veteran Deborah V. Bowie as Vice President of Chamber Development. In this role, Bowie will immediately strengthen the Chamber’s efforts to support the business community and provide leadership to provide unprecedented value to its members. Prior to joining the Gainesville Chamber, Bowie served as Senior Director of Public Policy & Communications with the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, Chief of Staff for the Mayor for the city of Birmingham, Alabama, and Vice President of Community Development at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Xavier University of Louisiana and is completing the highest level of certification for chambers of commerce. She has completed studies at Harvard University and received an Economic Development certificate from the Georgia Academy for Economic Development.
“With the additions of Susan, Kamal, and Deborah, the Chamber and C.E.O. have built a leadership team that will lead Gainesville’s business community forward and continue to create jobs and strengthen the local economy,” said Tim Giuliani, President & CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce & Council for Economic Outreach. “The leadership, abilities, and expertise gained through these individuals will help accelerate our efforts and build on the successes achieved by our team at the Chamber.”