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Pensacola Chamber Seeking New President

Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce

The “Help Wanted” sign is out at the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce for a new President and Chief Executive Officer.

Former State Rep. Clay Ingram departed earlier this month to become CEO of Volunteer Florida, after leading the Chamber since 2014. Steve Moorhead, the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board, says Ingram did a great job during a time of transition.

“The Chamber was divesting itself of economic development and tourism; he also has great contacts in Tallahassee, of course, but with everyone in the community,” said Moorhead. “He was able to navigate us through local business leaders and did a great job of that. We will certainly miss him.”

When Ingram got the call for Volunteer Florida, it was from the top.

“Got a call from Gov. DeSantis, offering me the position; a real thrilling phone call to get,” Ingram said. “After consulting with my wife I accepted the job.”

Volunteer Florida is the state agency that coordinates volunteer organizations statewide, and administers more than $30 million in federal and state funding for national service and volunteer programs. Ingram says their mission is threefold.

“Generally promoting volunteerism in Florida; administrating federal volunteer programs,” said Ingram. “I think the one that people are probably most familiar with is AmeriCorps. And then the third thing that the agency does, it coordinates volunteers and monetary resources during times of disaster.”

The big challenge for Ingram is instead of focusing on one county – Escambia – he now has to cover all of Florida’s 67 counties. He also notes Volunteer Florida and the local Chamber are similar in structure.

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Clay Ingram, newly-installed CEO of Volunteer Florida.

“Volunteer Florida has a parent organization and then a foundation; understanding the inter-play between the parent organization and the supporting foundation was invaluable to learn that from the inside of the Chamber,” Ingram said. “And then being able to bring some lessons learned to Volunteer Florida has been great.”

Ingram replaces David Mica Jr. as CEO, who was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in July 2018. At the time of the interview for this story, Ingram had just begun his new duties.

“I’ve been on the job for four days now, and it’s been the proverbial ‘drinking from the fire hose’ as far as trying to learn on the job, learn on the fly,” said Ingram. “But [there’s a] really great team of people that are hard-working and doing good work and it’s been pretty good so far.”

For now, there’s no nationwide search to fill the Chamber presidency. It’s being limited to candidates in the Pensacola area, or someone returning to the area who has experience here. Besides that, the Chamber’s Steve Moorhead was asked what else the new President/CEO should bring to the table.

Credit pensacolalaw.com
Steve Moorhead, Chairman of the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce.

“Someone who knows who the players are so they can hit the ground running,” Moorhead says. “Certainly, proven leadership; someone who had led a group of people, has dealt with volunteers, someone who’s comfortable presenting in front of large groups. Just a great people person.”

Todd Thomson, the Vice President for Public Affairs, is serving as interim President and has applied for the post. Moorhead says there’s no set timetable to fill the positon.

“We have left the application period open a fairly short period of time, and we have a committee made up of board members who is doing a methodology of scoring the applicants,” said Moorhead. “And then we’ll start the interview process sometime thereafter.”

Interested candidates can send resumes to Moorhead at 127 Palafox Place, Suite 200, or email chambersearch@pensacolalaw.com before Feb. 25.