It is appropriate that the theme of this month’s newsletter is looking forward. With the news that Mesa County has recovered much more quickly than other parts of the state and the nation, it is indeed time to look forward and move forward.

Diane Schwenke, our CEO for the past 32 years recognized that it was time for her and our organization to move forward when she announced her retirement late last month. She has done a phenomenal job and I am sure we will be singing her praises more thoroughly later this summer. Perhaps one of her major accomplishments was planning for this moment and making sure the organization had a solid foundation to move forward. She drafted and worked with our board five years ago to develop a succession plan in anticipation that this could be a vulnerable time for the Chamber if not managed effectively. This plan is thorough and provides a roadmap for selecting our next President/CEO. Diane’s commitment to stay on board through this process helps ensure a smooth transition, which will make the board’s job easier.


One of Diane’s most notable legacies is the excellent financial condition of our Chamber that she developed during her tenure, particularly through the pandemic. These financial resources are essential for the vast business advocacy programs operated by the Chamber to the benefit of our community and members. Transparency and responsible deployment of funds were her hallmarks, which our board will undoubtedly ensure continuity with our next leader.

Another notable accomplishment was her ability to develop, export, replace, and retain staff. In my short tenure on the board, some talented individuals leveraged their work experience at the Chamber into future opportunities. In my view, this turnover has been a result of staff growth. New hires have all hit the ground running with measurable successes, and through this employees’ market we have retained a couple of key folks. This hiring and development track record will be a challenge for our next leader to repeat.

Let’s not forget about relationships and networks. Diane’s success in building relationships throughout our community and its numerous entities has been instrumental in expanding our collaborative culture. In Mesa County, we band together to solve problems, and this institutional history will also be difficult to replace.

I am personally thankful that we also have such a strong board of directors that are all pulling in the same direction to meet our mission of being the business voice and promoting economic growth.

Nothing stays the same and our members and the business community have many challenges ahead of us as we encounter regulatory roadblocks, lack of workforce housing and the balancing act of welcoming future growth while ensuring our public infrastructure, including public and post-secondary education, is in place to accommodate that growth.

Because of the forethought and efforts by Diane, her Chamber Team and our board I am confident that we are ready for this change. Members can expect that this Chamber will continue to provide outstanding service and tangible results for their investment in 2022. Our community is in a cycle of rapid change, which is inevitable but does not have to be painful…with our organization’s planning we will be there to help our members adapt.

Here’s to our future as businesses and as a community! It will be exciting and filled with new opportunities for all of us!

360 Grand Avenue | Grand Junction, Colorado | (970) 242-3214
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