Cincinnati Chamber unveils the new five-year strategic framework to foster regional growth

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Cincinnati Chamber Announces Key Leadership Additions and Organizational Changes to Power New Strategic Plan

The Cincinnati Regional Chamber is pleased to announce key leadership additions and organizational changes that will drive the creation and implementation of its new five-year strategic plan, which will be centered on growing the Cincinnati region’s economy, population, and cultural vibrancy.

The following leadership additions and organizational changes have been made to best position the Chamber to serve its members, the business community, and region as a whole:

Kate Ward hired as Senior Vice President & Chief Business Officer

Ward has joined the Chamber as its Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer on July 5, 2023. Ward was most recently the President of Kroger Personal Finance and had a 20-year career with Kroger in rising roles in auditing, finance, investor relations, and ultimately led the marketing, operations, sales, and strategy for one of Kroger’s largest and most successful business units.

As SVP & CBO at the Chamber, Ward will oversee and provide strategic leadership to the membership sales and engagement department, marketing and communications department, and fundraising and sponsorship teams. Ward will work closely with Brendon Cull, President & CEO, to lead the Chamber’s strategic planning process.

“Kate is a savvy business leader with tremendous analytical skills, organization, and a proven track record of growing business,” said Cull. “I’m excited to partner with Kate in developing and driving the Chamber’s strategic priorities and initiatives to grow our region’s economy, population, and cultural vibrancy. I’m grateful Kate chose to bring her talents and experience to the Chamber where both our team and the region will feel the impact of her leadership and work.”

“I’m thrilled to join Brendon and the amazing team at the Chamber. As a Cincinnati native, I have a vested interest in the prosperity of the region,” said Ward. “I believe in the power of a successful economy fueled by growing businesses. I’m energized by the momentum you can feel across our region, and I’m excited to help build on the foundation this team has laid as we embark on our next strategic vision.”

Justin Brookhart promoted to Senior Vice President, Cultural Economy & Executive Director, BLINK®

Brookhart joined the Chamber in 2022 as Executive Director of BLINK®, a role he will maintain, and led the return of the nation’s largest light, art, and projection mapping experience. In 2022, the four-day event provided a $126M direct economic impact on the Cincinnati region, and is returning to the streets and buildings of Cincinnati from October 17th to 20th, 2024.

In his new role, Brookhart will develop and implement strategies to promote and sustain a thriving cultural sector in the Cincinnati region, executing initiatives that enhance the region’s brand and promote the Cincinnati Chamber’s mission while increasing its reach and engagement with the public. He will provide senior leadership to the teams that produce the Cincinnati Chamber’s cultural vibrancy programs and special events, including but not limited to BLINK® Illuminated by ArtsWave, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Taste of Cincinnati, and Asian Food Fest.

“In his short time in Cincinnati, Justin has built tremendous relationships with leaders and creatives in the arts and culture space and has deftly connected that work to business and to our economy,” said Cull. “As we tack toward a new strategic plan where growth of our region’s cultural vibrancy is going to be a significant piece, this new title reflects the role Justin will play in helping to shape our work around a growing cultural economy.”

“I am incredibly honored and thrilled to step into the role of Senior Vice President of Cultural Economy at the Cincinnati Regional Chamber,” Brookhart said. “It is a privilege to work alongside the talented individuals at the Chamber and the dynamic arts, culture, and entertainment organizations that make the Cincinnati region a vibrant and thriving community. I am eagerly looking forward to contributing to the growth and prosperity of our cultural sector, fostering meaningful collaborations between the arts and business, and further enhancing the vibrant tapestry of our beloved Cincinnati. Together, we will continue to ignite the spirit of creativity, innovation, and community and make this region an even more extraordinary place to live.”

Three team members promoted to Director level

In addition to Ward and Brookhart joining the senior leadership team, the Cincinnati Chamber has promoted three team members to the Director level within their respective departments:

  • Laura Chrysler, Senior Director, Sponsorship & Investment
  • Devona Stripling, Director, Women Excel & Diverse by Design
  • Andrea Mersmann, Director, Leadership Center
  • Left: Kate Ward, CBO & SVP
  • Center: Justin Brookhart, SVP, Cultural Economy & Executive Director, BLINK®
  • Top Right: Laura Chrysler, Senior Director, Sponsorship & Investment
  • Middle Right: Devona Stripling, Director, Women Excel & Diverse by Design
  • Bottom Right: Andrea Mersmann, Director, Leadership Center

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