A Message From Our Outgoing Chairman of the Board, Kathryn Falk

In Chamber Blog by admin

This message was originally presented during our 2021 Good Business Awards Show. Watch the recording here.

Chamber members:

2020 was the most challenging year in every respect possible. Unprecedented is almost an understatement. I am so pleased to report that your Chamber team demonstrated tremendous leadership over the past 12 months.

During this stormy year when other groups lost large numbers of members, the Chamber retained 99% of all membership revenue while also growing new membership revenue considerably. And we are proud to welcome so many marquee new members including Nestlé Corporation, AWS and Verizon. Thanks to Julie Coons our CEO and the team including Shannon Jamerson of KPMG and Mitch Weintraub of Cordia, Rich LaFleur of Grant Thornton, Mike Carlin of Access Point, and John Woodstock for their work on membership.

Your team made savvy financial decisions, finding new sources of income and cutting operating expenses to deliver a positive financial year with more top regional executives engaged than ever before. Thank you Susan Moser of Cherry Bekaert, our Treasurer, and Kevin Kelly our CFO for their amazing leadership.

And we led….

In response to the pandemic, we led. The Chamber immediately embraced the opportunity to lead in responding to the pandemic. Together, we stood up the Back to Work Coalition and created a corresponding web portal for business related COVID information.  This broad coalition positioned the Chamber as the leader among other Northern VA business organizations. Thank you to Julie Coons and Todd Rowley of Old Dominion Bank for their leadership on this.

In workforce, we led. We positioned the Chamber to lead on workforce through a partnership with Aon and Accenture to create the Greater Washington Apprentice Network. Special thanks to Janet Osborn of AON, incoming Chariman of the Board, Luanne Gutermuth, and Jennifer Williamson for their leadership.

In social justice, we led. We took very public stands on issues of equity and inclusion in establishing a DEI Board of Advisors to provide thought leadership on the best way to make a positive impact in our region. All of the Board's recommendations have now been included in the strategic plan.  Thank you to John Allen of Wells Fargo for co-chairing this group, thanks to all of the members of the Board of Advisors for their engagement and thanks to Kay Ann Schoeman, Curley Company, for her strategic public affairs support and guidance this year.

In Advocacy, we led. The Policy Committee transformed our policy agenda into a more succinct and impactful document expanding its social equity components while also gaining more participation. Thanks to Matt McQueen of Peraton and Policy Commiuttee Chairman and Clayton Medford for leading this.

We conducted a review of the PAC structure and process to ensure the PAC was aligned with the needs and goals of the Chamber. The group’s recommendations were reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee.  Thanks to Scott McGeary, Washington Gas, for leading this and our legal counsel Judith Kassel, Saul, Ewing, Arstein, and Lehr, for her help on this and more.

We also took advantage of the crisis to plan for the future- embarking on a process to create a new strategic plan to guide us into the future.  Congratulations and thanks to Luanne Gutermuth for leading this transformational effort.

On a personal note, I want to thank my wonderful husband, Paul Brandus, and my daughter, Julia, for their support this year, it has been an incredibly difficult year personally as I have lost both of my parents in the last 4 months, I honor them and share a quote that my Father instilled in me as a child, by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said, “Life is action and passion and those who fail to participate in the actions and passions of their times, they run the risk of being judged not to have lived at all.”

A special thanks to all of the Officers – you had my back and I am so grateful to have had the chance to be on your team.  I am so proud to have worked with each of YOU to achieve success in 2020 despite the most challenging circumstances possible.

And an enormous thanks to my team at Cox Communications and Cox Business for their support this year including J.D. Myers, Nneka Chiazor and Selena Sweatt. 

Congratulations to our lifetime achievement honorees today Cathy Lange, Partner, Human Capital Advisors, and Stu Mendelsohn, Executive Partner, Holland and Knight, LLC, who have been mentors and guides to me through the years.

Together, we have not only weathered the storm but took advantage of the opportunities in the crisis to position our organization for even greater success in the future. And now I pass the gavel to a great leader, your new chairman, Luanne Gutermuth.

This message is from our Outgoing Board Chairman, Kathryn Falk, Cox Communications.