Chamber Announces CEO Departure and Interim Leadership
Following more than four years at the helm of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, Chamber President & CEO Elizabeth Cromwell has informed the Board of Directors of her intent to step down from the position in 2023. Her last day on the job will be February 17.
The Board of Directors has appointed a search committee to be chaired by board member Arlene Lee. The committee is casting a wide net and hopes to see a range of applicants from the local market and beyond. The position description will be posted on the Chamber’s website in the coming weeks.
Longtime staff member Andrea Copeland, the Chamber’s Director of Committee Engagement, has been appointed Interim President to manage the organization until a new President is named. Member programs and services will not be affected by the search for executive leadership.
Immediate Past Chair Guy Browning noted Cromwell’s accomplishments and strong alignment with the Board. “Elizabeth led several high-profile strategic initiatives that have positioned the Chamber as a willing partner and convener, raising the stature of our organization,” Browning said.
“Just one example of recent success is the Project Rebound collaborative she spearheaded, which was recognized in 2021 by the International Facilitation Impact Awards,” Browning added. “She also created the innovative Partners in Trust program, which continues to build fiscal stability for the organization. We are very grateful for both her vision and her stewardship.”
2023 Board Chair Rebecca Ivins agreed and added that Cromwell’s impending departure creates an opportunity for a new, forward-looking leader to build upon recent successes.
“Over the past few years, we have been able to complete many of the goals under our strategic plan,” Ivins said. “As we engage on a new strategic planning process this year, the Chamber is well positioned to continue building relationships as a neutral convener, honest broker, and champion for economic vitality. While we will miss Elizabeth greatly, she has left the organization in excellent shape and we look forward to finding a dynamic, visionary successor to lead the organization anew into the future.”
Cromwell plans to relocate to Massachusetts later this year to assist with a project that has become increasingly significant to her as it gets closer to fruition: the construction and opening of the Island Autism Center to include farmland and residences in West Tisbury, as well as community programming and events for its residents and the community at large.
“I will always be grateful for the colleagues and friends I have made in and around Charlottesville,” Cromwell stated. “I was welcomed here with open arms and still see a business community primed for deeper collaboration and shared success. Personally and professionally, the time is right for me to take on some new challenges and adventures. I have learned a lot during my time here and am grateful to the board, the Chamber staff, our many volunteers, our Chamber members, and for all of my experiences here.”
Copeland started her Chamber career in 2007, volunteering with the Chamber’s Ambassador Corps. In 2012, she joined the Chamber professional staff as the Director of Member Education Services, bringing with her more than 15 years of experience in the preschool, public school, and private college sectors.
Copeland is a graduate of Leadership Charlottesville, the Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (VACCE) Management Program, and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) Emerging Leaders Circle. This summer, she will graduate from the US Chamber of Commerce executive leadership development program with an Institute for Organization Management (IOM) designation.