Members of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce gathered at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne today to welcome its new chairman for 2013 and swear in the year’s Board of Directors.
Tracey White, vice president of government and community relations at HCA, took the helm of the Loudoun Chamber from Kurt Krause, the NCC’s general manager who led the Chamber during 2012.
The annual meeting also held, for the first time, the Loudoun Community Leadership Awards recognizing people and organizations “that have demonstrated true leadership and commitment to support the needs of the Loudoun County community and its citizens.”
The winners were:
• Large Organization: Middleburg Bank;
• Small Organization: Loudoun Insurance Group;
• Top Young Professional: Middleburg Bank’s Retail Banking Manager Jamie Pearson;
• Top Executive Leader: Brian Chavis of ARGroup.
Before turning the Chamber over to White, Krause took the time to remember some of the seminal moments of 2012, the most important of which was the approval of the Silver Line project by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors. Krause and Chamber president and CEO Tony Howard presented the five supervisors who voted in favor of the project—Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large), Vice Chairman Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) and Supervisors Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Ken Reid (R-Leesburg)—with a plaque recognizing their willingness to “take heat from a segment of their constituency” while maintaining their “vision of Loudoun no longer wanting to be a bedroom community for Fairfax County.”
He also thanked the Chamber members for their work in 2012, not just helping to rally support for the rail project, but a variety of issues. “Chamber members always stepped up to make Loudoun a great place to live and work, to play and to care,” he said.
Krause and White commemorated their exchange in leadership with the traditional passing of the gavel, as well as a tip of the hat to White’s position with HCA.
Krause presented White with a doctor’s kit to help her in her efforts. In it was a stethoscope—because “there will be days your heart will be working in overdrive”—an instrument to check hearing—because “there will be times when people turn a deaf ear”—along with a thermometer and blood pressure to help her keep up with the fast work of the Chamber employees.
But it appears White is prepared to move as fast as she can into some new initiatives for 2013. She said her plan, or theme, for the year came naturally to her: “Healthy Businesses and Healthy Communities.”
“Those two things are important to me and conveys what we hope the Chamber will be this year,” she said. White noted that health is on everyone’s minds right now, whether it is implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act or employers looking for ways to improve the health and welfare of their employees.
“But it is not always about direct health care,” she said, noting it was about the economic vibrancy of businesses and a financially sound government. “We have to look at health holistically and we have to be healthy across all sectors…We have to work together toward a community good and a few new goals.”
Among those new goals for 2013 is the establishment of a health and wellness program that would mirror the Chamber’s Green Business Challenge. Businesses and companies would register and get points for every day efforts that undertake at their offices and with their employees.
The spring will mark the launch of Connect Northern Virginia, which White characterized as a “groundbreaking, regional community portal” that highlights nonprofit organizations. The goal of Connect Northern Virginia is to drive resources to nonprofits that address important community needs in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. The portal can be used by people, businesses or organizations who would like to donate money; nonprofits can use it to reach out to donors and volunteers; and individuals can learn about volunteer, internship and job opportunities.
The portal will be managed by George Mason University’s Center for Nonprofit Management, Philanthropy and Policy and is being led by a team with representations from each of the localities.
Finally, White told the audience the Chamber would be adding a government relations position in 2013. “The Chamber has been a leader in making sure the business community is heard loud and clear in the halls of government,” she said, and the goal is to ensure that still continues at the local and state level.