Christy Gillenwater has accepted a new position as President and CEO of Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, stepping down from her leadership role as Chattanooga Chamber President and CEO. Gillenwater succeeds Roy Williams, who is retiring.
“Christy’s leadership has been bold and imaginative as an agent for positive change throughout our region,” said Janelle Reilly, CEO, CHI Memorial Health Systems and Chair of the Chattanooga Chamber Board of Directors.
“Christy’s passion for uplifting communities through economic prosperity has been appreciated by our board of directors, volunteers, member businesses and Chamber staff. She has led with laser-focused vision – upholding our mission to champion member businesses and promote regional economic growth,” Reilly said.
Leading alongside volunteers, boards of directors and community partners and team members, Gillenwater spearheaded initiatives to develop long-term economic opportunities for Chattanooga as well as achieving more immediate goals.
“My experience in Chattanooga reinforced how powerful collaborations between businesses, organizations and elected officials can create greater economic and talent development opportunities,” Gillenwater said. “I have been honored to serve in Chattanooga and Hamilton County.”
“Stepping into this role and working with such a collaborative, forward-leaning and visionary organization is an honor for me,” Gillenwater said. “Part of my passion for the important work of chambers of commerce includes benchmarking leading communities and Oklahoma City is definitely a city of innovators whose initiatives are both bold and smart,” Gillenwater said.
Gillenwater began her 5-year tenure in Chattanooga after leading chambers of commerce in Bloomington and Evansville, Indiana. Gillenwater was named President and CEO by the Chattanooga Chamber Board of Directors in September of 2017 and assumed her role in December.
The Chattanooga Chamber Executive Committee will immediately begin planning for the search process. Gillenwater begins her new role in January.
Community-wide accomplishments during her tenure include: development of Velocity2040, a 20-year community vision for economic prosperity, created alongside 10 community partner organizations and a futurist expert. Velocity2040 serves as the vision for the Chattanooga Climbs strategy, crafted to ensure economic prosperity for our region and residents. The Chattanooga Chamber raised more than $15 million to activate the 5-year economic development, talent and inclusion strategy.
Economic development outcomes included more than $2 billion in capital investment and more than 5,700 jobs.
Gillenwater and Chamber partners developed the CEO Roundtable, comprised of CEOs from the largest 20 employers in our region; championed the High Growth CEO Group, including CEOs from 15 companies with the strongest exit or IPO potential.
Additional accomplishments include: enhancement of public policy strategy through launching three weekly public policy updates and strengthening communication with the city, county and state.
ChattanoogaCalling.com was launched, connecting people to thousands of jobs in the region and offering training resources for high-demand jobs. Launched Starting Block, an on-line hub to connect entrepreneurs to the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as Skill Up, an earn-while-you-learn partnership with Chattanooga State Community College and Hamilton County Schools. Skill Up provides short-term credentialing program for students to enhance work skills.
As curators of Chattanooga’s brand, the Chattanooga Chamber generated more than 3 billion national media impressions, specific to the topics of economic development, talent, remote work and entrepreneurship, increasing Chattanooga’s visibility.
In its commitment to fostering economic opportunities through education, the Chattanooga Chamber continued progress as host of Chattanooga 2.0, the collective impact education movement for cradle to career.
Promoting Chattanooga’s startup reputation, the Chattanooga Chamber continued positioning the third largest business incubator in the country to meet small business and entrepreneurial needs by adding intentional programming that builds a sense of community; and partnered with nearly 200 employers who offer internships, apprenticeships and teacher apprenticeships.
A new scope of work with bold metrics, including internal training, led to hiring a newly established Vice President of Diversity and Inclusive Growth as well as establishing the CEO Pledge for Racial Equity, a commitment by CEOs to intentionally enhance their efforts to achieve equity of opportunity within organizations and the broader Chattanooga community.
The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce is the leading business association and economic development organization for the Chattanooga region. Founded in 1887, the Chattanooga Chamber’s membership consists of nearly 1,900 companies of all sizes which employ more than 100,000 people.
The Chamber Foundation is a separate but related entity established in 1969 for the purpose of economic development, which it carries out through a public-private partnership, Chattanooga Climbs. The Chattanooga Chamber has won many national awards for recruitment, marketing and existing industry support and is accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with five stars.
The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Foundation both support a common mission to champion member businesses and promote regional economic growth.