Aug 05, 2019

Chamber Chatter: President/CEO Search Continues – What’s Next?


In February of this year, our Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO, George Halford, announced his intent to retire at the end of 2019. Of his nearly 50 years in the chamber industry, George will have served over 16 of them right here in Putnam County. He’s been an amazing leader for our organization. He’s been a part of the many successes we’ve seen as a community during his years here. And he’s only the second President/CEO in the history of this Chamber so, of course, there’s lots of interest.

Following his announcement, our organization’s leadership hired a consultant, The Ewart Group, for assistance in conducting a thorough search for our next chief executive. The position description and candidate profile were assessed and updated before the search officially opened at the beginning of June. The position is responsible for the overall operation of the organization, including the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, Highlands Economic Partnership and its Economic Development and Workforce Development and Education programs, Highlands Foundation, Public Building Authority, Leadership Putnam, and the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. The President/CEO will guide the staff and lead the organization’s programs of work with accountability to the 24-member Board of Directors for overall performance.  He or she is expected to provide leadership and direction that creates high levels of enthusiasm, expectancy, momentum and pride among the membership, staff and business community.

The application submission window, which closed Wednesday, July 31, received positive interest. What’s next? The search committee will meet in August to begin reviewing submitted applications which meet the required qualifications. After the review, a group of candidates will be scheduled to take part in a structured video interview process. Following initial interviews, a second, in-person round of interviews will be scheduled with candidates, including community tours, meetings with select local leadership, and an invitation for spouses to accompany candidates. Although the Chamber’s next President/CEO will be highly-visible, applicant names will not be released to respect confidentiality of all candidates. The Chamber hopes to extend an offer to a candidate by mid-fourth quarter with an official announcement to follow confirmation. We’re sad for us, but so very happy for George and look forward to this opportunity to continue amazing progress for our community.

Zach Ledbetter serves as the Vice President of the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau.