Education and workforce consistently rises to the top as the #1 issue facing chambers of commerce and business leaders in their communities. These largely state and local issues require business leadership on the ground.

The Business Leads Fellowship Program is an in-person training designed to grow a new, informed coalition of business leadership on education and workforce issues in communities across the country. 


Cohort Meetings 

The structure of the program includes two separate, three-day intensive workshops that focus on the history, policy, and programming on topics spanning the education pipeline. Participants must attend, and complete in full, all workshop sessions to receive their Business Leads Fellowship certificate.

  • The first workshop focuses Fellow's attention on early and K-12 education as well as college and career readiness. 
  • The second workshop completes the talent pipeline with coverage of postsecondary education and a wide range of workforce development topics.

The workshops, which include plenary sessions as well as discussion-based breakout sessions, are taught by expert faculty as well as staff from state and local chambers who have put policy into practice to bring change and opportunity to their communities. Breakout sessions are designed to provide grounding on the issues as well as practical tools that you can use to advance policies and programs in your communities. 

Meet the Faculty

The Chamber Foundation is eager to work with these dedicated participants and see what happens as Fellows return to their communities and apply the learnings from this Fellowship Program experience in meaningful ways.

Our Fellows

Participation Requirements

To be considered for the Business Leads Fellowship Program, applicants should:

  • Currently work at a state or local chamber or statewide association.
  • Currently engage in or desire to engage in education and/or workforce issues in your community.
  • Be able to attend all sessions of both cohort meetings. 

Fellowship Program Cohorts

  • Cohort #1 graduated in January 2019
  • Cohort #2 graduated in July 2019
  • Cohort #3 graduated in September 2019
  • Elite Cohort graduated in January 2020
  • Cohort #4 will conclude in July 2020

Cohort #1 Fellows

Cohort #1
September 2018 in New Orleans, LA
January 2019 in Phoenix, AZ

  • Andrea Anderson, Ardmore Chamber of Commerce/Development Authority
  • Jason Bearce, Indiana Chamber
  • Jessica Belitz, Blount Partnership
  • Wendy Block, Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • Melissa Bordelon, Greater Hammond Chamber
  • Bailey Bowthorpe, Salt Lake Chamber
  • Steve Clark, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce
  • Barbara Den Herder, Sioux Center Chamber of Commerce
  • Angela Dixon, Capital Region Chamber
  • Diane Dobson, Renton Chamber of Commerce
  • Tiffany Esposito, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Pam Farris, Leadership West Virginia
  • Ryan Flynn, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE)
  • Ben Gilman, Maine State Chamber of Commerce
  • Wade Goodsell, WMC Foundation (Wisconsin’s Chamber Foundation)
  • Joe Henning, Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Karmen Gifford, Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce
  • Gary Laird, Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Kelly McCandless, Billings Chamber of Commerce
  • Ben Melson, The Greater Houston Partnership 
  • Kris Noble, Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce
  • John Nyhan, Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Erin Olson, RealTime Talent (Under the MN Chamber Foundation’s Center for Workforce Solutions)
  • Rick Pearce, The Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown\Monroe\Trenton
  • Andrea Reay, Seattle Southside Chamber
  • Pamela Riddler, Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce
  • Marilyn Roach, The Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • Carolyn Ryan, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
  • Garrett Sheehan, Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce
  • Shelley Short, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas
  • Cally Smith, Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Megan Wehmeir, Douglass-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce
  • Josh Williams, Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center
  • April Wood, Garner Chamber of Commerce

Cohort #2 Fellows

Cohort #2
April 2019 in Chicago, IL
July 2019 in Denver, CO

•    Ellen Albright, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance
•    Marcy Angelo, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber
•    Molly Blankenship, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
•    Camille Conaway, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
•    Steve Cox, Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce
•    Shaun DuFault, New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce
•    Carlos Fernandez, Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce
•    Rosanne Foust, San Mateo County Economic Development Association
•    Anne Gill, Tempe Chamber of Commerce
•    Mike Glavin, Greater Cleveland Partnership
•    Adrian Hale, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
•    Heather Hardinger, Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Taney County Partnership
•    Julia Hindall, JAX Chamber
•    Joseph Hurd, Blair County Chamber of Commerce
•    Susan Koehn, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
•    Alex LaBeau, Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry
•    Norma Lansing, Effingham County Chamber of Commerce
•    Avi Leshes, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
•    Michael Mancuso, The Greater Smithfield Selma Area Chamber of Commerce
•    Annette Medlin, Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce
•    Christina Misali, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
•    John Pagen, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce
•    Elizabeth Paul, Birmingham Business Alliance
•    Cassidy Peterson, Greater Spokane Inc.
•    Heidi Peterson, Wyoming State Chamber of Commerce
•    Jackson Pruett, The Shelby County Chamber
•    Anna Ramos, Lancaster Chamber
•    Sara Ray, Douglas County Chamber of Commerce
•    Lori Renne, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
•    David Sabathne, Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce
•    Jessie Schook, Greater Louisville Inc.
•    David Schroedel, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber
•    Joey Mak, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
•    Sophie Torres, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Cohort #3 Fellows

Cohort #3
May 2019 in San Francisco, CA
September 2019 in New Orleans, LA

  • Chad Amond, Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce
  • Jennifer Banta, Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Desiree Bennyhoff, Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce
  • Jennifer Boettcher, Grosse Point Chamber of Commerce
  • Alex Breault, The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce
  • Latonya Brock, Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Leah Curtskinger, Colorado Chamber of Commerce
  • Colleen DePasquale, Greater Fort Meyers Chamber of Commerce
  • Jeffrey Emanuel, The Foundation of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce
  • Danielle Fitz-Hugh, Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce
  • Henry Florsheim, Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce
  • Adam Forrand, Partnership Gwinnet/Gwinett Chamber of Commerce
  • Kelly Fuller, Columbus Chamber of Commerce
  • Tiffany Garling, Jackson County Chamber of Commerce
  • Cassie Grigsby, Kentucky Retail Institute
  • Michael Guymon, Tucson Metro Chamber
  • John Harmon, The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ)
  • Christina Hellmich, Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce
  • Kyle Jacobson, Lubbock Chamber of Commerce
  • John Jenks, The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
  • Clint Knight, Richland Area Chamber and Economic Development
  • Kate Lufkin, Kalispell Chamber
  • Amy Luyster, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce
  • Timothy Magner, Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce
  • Christopher McDermott, North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce
  • Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
  • Reyne Moore, Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce
  • Rob Parker, Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce
  • Linda Rabe, Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Kathi Roetter, Troy Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Krychelle Smith, Calhoun County Area Chamber & Visitors Center
  • Whitney Theriot, Temple Chamber of Commerce
  • Heather Tramp, Klamath County Chamber of Commerce

Elite Cohort

Elite Cohort
January 2020 in Miami, FL
Press Release

This cohort of the Fellowship Program is an invitation-only advanced track that will focus on how to elevate existing work, navigate change management, and learn best practices in evaluation, funding, data, and member services. This is a one-time, three-day program. Participants in this cohort not only must meet the criteria for a Fellow, but in addition they:

  • Partner with the U.S. Chamber Foundation on various initiatives and have done so for five or more years.
  • Are an established education and workforce leader at the state or local level.
  • Have implemented multiple successful education and workforce development solutions in their communities.

Elite Fellows

  • Jessica Attas, Waco Chamber of Commerce
  • Peter Beard, Greater Houston Partnership/UpSkill Houston
  • Tracey Bryan, The Bridge of Southern New Mexico
  • Tim Cairl, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
  • Lucia Cape, Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County
  • Camille Conaway, LABI
  • Brian Crouse, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Donna Custard, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Bernard Dagenais, Main Line Chamber of Commerce
  • Tony Davis, Natchitoches Community Alliance
  • Beth Davisson, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • Patty Day, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia
  • Ryan Flynn, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE)
  • Ben Gilman, Maine State Chamber
  • Lanet Greenhaw, Dallas Regional Chamber
  • Alex Halper, Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce
  • Mike Huckins, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
  • Loren Kaye, California Foundation for Commerce and Education
  • Stephanie Keinath, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Kim Kuchenbrod, Vermilion Advantage
  • Tim Magner, Greater Shreveport Chamber
  • Ethan Melancon, Baton Rouge Area Chamber
  • Jennifer Mellor, Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
  • Derek Miller, Salt Lake Chamber
  • Amber Mooney, Business Council of New York State
  • Paul Moradkhan, Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • Mary Anne Sheahan, Vermont Business Roundtable
  • Garrett Sheehan, Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce
  • Laura Smith, Buffalo Niagara Partnership
  • Kwee Lan Teo, Austin Chamber
  • Peg Walton, Tampa Bay Partnership
  • Kami Welch, Arvada Chamber of Commerce
  • Gilbert Zavala, Austin Chamber of Commerce

FAQs: The Application Process

How many participants are accepted? 
State and local chambers from across the country are invited to apply and 35 individuals will be selected to participate.  

Is there a limit on the number of people that can apply from a single chamber/organization? 
There is no limit to how many people can apply from one organization. However, it is unlikely that more than one Fellow will be selected from said organization.

What "level" is a Fellow? 
Participants range from President and CEO to Manager. The most important characteristic in the selection process is an interest in learning about the education and workforce pipeline and a commitment to applying the principles learned during the program in their local community. 

Will there be another Business Leads Fellowship Program?
Yes. Stay tuned for news about a cohort in early 2020.

Did you accept a specific number of participants from each state?
No -- we simply accept the best candidates for the available openings.

I work for an economic development organization. Am I eligible?
Yes, though chambers of commerce and associations receive preference.

FAQs: Agenda & Schedule

The formal agenda will be shared with participants directly. Sample agendas for both meetings of Cohort 1 can be found below. Although the structure of each day will for the most part remain the same, future meetings will feature different topics and speakers.

What will the structure of the days look like? 
The Chamber Foundation will provide breakfast, lunch, beverages, and snacks throughout the program, which will consist of interactive plenary and discussion-based Homeroom breakout sessions.

FAQs: Travel & Accommodations

How do I book my flight?
Once accepted, the Chamber Foundation will be in touch with details on booking your travel through our approved travel agent. Travel booked on your own cannot be reimbursed.

How do I book my hotel?
The Chamber Foundation will book your hotel room once your flights are confirmed and will cover the cost of your hotel for the days that the meeting is in session. If you choose to book your travel outside of those days, you must book your own room and cover the cost. We cannot reimburse this expense.

What time does the fellowship program begin and end? 
Cohort meetings begin at noon on the first day and conclude no later than 3 p.m. on the final day. You will be able to fly into the city on the first day and out on the final day. 

Can I bring a family member/friend to stay with me?
Yes, but you must attend all sessions of the workshop in full, including any networking receptions or field trips. We will not reimburse you for any costs associated with the family member or friend. The hotel rooms have a king bed or two double beds—we cannot accommodate requests for specific sleeping arrangements. 

For detailed questions that have not been answered here, please email