BY AHMED HAQUE
Chairman of the Board
CARLSBAD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
2019 marks the beginning of a new chapter in the proud history of the Carlsbad Chamber. Our CEO Ted Owen retires this month after 15 years at the helm. All of us associated with the Chamber are grateful for his service and I personally have been extremely fortunate to have enjoyed his mentorship for over seven years.
When informed of Ted’s retirement the Chamber’s Board of Directors faced a crossroads. We took a sober examination of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the Chamber in order to determine the qualities needed in our next CEO. We were humble enough to realize there are some areas in which the Chamber could improve and threats to the relevancy of our Chamber in an economy where relationships and advocacy are increasingly cultivated through social media.
In order to identify Ted’ successor, the Board formed a 14 person Selection Committee of board members representing the diversity of industries and size of businesses that make up the Chamber membership. The Committee reviewed hundreds of applications for the CEO position. Among the candidates were a virtual who’s who of local leaders including individuals who have made notable contributions to the Chamber’s success over the past several decades. This search was a sobering task, both because of the great significance of the selection on the future of the Chamber and because of the number of very talented candidates from whom we had to choose.
Ultimately, the Committee and Board were united in our selection of Brett Schanzenbach as the Carlsbad Chamber’s next President and CEO.
Bret is no stranger to our region. He was raised in North County and graduated as valedictorian of his class at Vista High School. For the past nine years, Bret has served as the CEO of the Vista Chamber of Commerce, growing that organization’s membership and budget to new heights. Among his many accomplishments he launched the Vista Strawberry Festival and Heroes of Vista Gala that now rival in size our own Carlsbad Village Faire and Annual Business Awards.
The Board valued Bret’s experience running small businesses and his service on the Vista Chamber board prior to working in the chamber industry. We were also impressed with his demonstrated commitment to forming strong partnerships between the business community and local education. Bret’s knowledge of the local economy, the regulatory landscape and his existing relationships in the region will allow him to hit the ground running in Carlsbad.
We are excited about the future of the Chamber under Bret’s leadership and the Board will be working closely with him to refresh our strategic plan. We are confident Bret is up to the challenge of maintaining the Chamber’s role as a convener of discussion of emerging issues facing our community and the most effective advocate for businesses of all types.
Please join me in welcoming Bret to our Chamber and extending best wishes to him and his wife Joleen. I look forward to all that Bret, our staff, our committed members and volunteers will accomplish in the coming year.