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Boston Chamber search committee finds new leader

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce announced that an executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority was selected to be the Chamber’s next president and CEO.

James E. Rooney will succeed current Chamber President and CEO Paul Guzzi and assume the post on July 1.

Rooney was selected by a Chamber search committee and unanimously approved by the Chamber’s board of directors. The search committee was led by Karen Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday and former Chamber chairman, and Dr. Navjot Singh, managing partner of McKinsey & Co. in Boston and incoming chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors.

The search was conducted by Korn Ferry, led by Bob Sullivan in Boston and Lorraine Lavet in Washington, D.C. After considering a large pool of candidates, the search committee determined that Rooney has the leadership experience and the vision to guide the Chamber into its next phase.

“On behalf of the entire Greater Boston Chamber, we welcome Jim to the team with great confidence in his ability to lead the Chamber as it begins a new chapter,” Dr. Singh said. “For more than a decade, Jim has shown great skill in building award-winning facilities and attracting world-renowned events and thought leaders to the City of Boston. His breadth of experience and great understanding of our city’s strengths and challenges make him the perfect choice to drive our organization into the future.”

“Jim Rooney was the most strategic thinker of all the candidates and presented the clearest, most ambitious, thoughtful, and sophisticated plan for the chamber,” said Karen Kaplan. “With a proven track record and an openness to change, the selection committee unanimously agreed that he is the best candidate to deliver that vision.”

“I am thrilled and honored to be selected to lead the Chamber,” Rooney said. “I can’t wait to get started.” He added: “I applaud Paul Guzzi for his leadership in creating a runway for the Chamber to take off on a new journey where we remain mindful of our core mission to drive economic growth throughout the region while embracing Boston’s new economy and demographic realities.”

Guzzi, who has led the organization for 19 years and will remain in his position until July 1, said: “I am proud of the work of the Chamber and its role in this community, and I think Jim is an outstanding choice to serve as the Chamber’s next President and CEO.”

Rooney will assume leadership of the Chamber during a time of transition and opportunity for the organization. With 1,500 members from all corners of the region’s economy, the Chamber is one of the largest and most respected business organizations in Greater Boston. Both current Chair John Fish and Dr. Singh, the incoming Chair, have made it a priority to leverage the Chamber’s strong position to both strengthen the region’s innovation economy and help the organization evolve into a “Chamber of the Future”.

Rooney’s selection was applauded by city and state leaders.

“With a dynamic background and strong business experience, Jim will excel in this new role and enrich the partnerships at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I look forward to working with him in the future to strengthen economic growth and drive success in Boston and beyond.”

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Jim on many important issues, not just as the Mayor of Boston, but when I was a State Representative as well,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Throughout his career, he has always balanced the objectives of his organization with the best interests of the City of Boston. I look forward to working with Jim even more in his new role as the leader of the Greater Boston Chamber and to tackling important issues such as increasing housing, improving education and supporting local businesses for many years to come.”

“Our search committee had an important and challenging assignment—to fill the very large shoes left by Chamber President and CEO Paul Guzzi and find a proven leader who could help us define the ‘Chamber of the Future,’” said John Fish, Chairman and CEO of Suffolk Construction and current Chamber Chairman. “With the hiring of Jim Rooney as the new President and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber, we are confident we have accomplished those ambitious objectives. We are absolutely thrilled to have Jim lead this important organization at a critical time in our history, as we begin the next chapter of business collaboration, partnership and influence to strengthen the competitiveness of Boston and our entire region.”

Rooney brings deep ties to the area’s business and political community. He has served as executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) since 2003, overseeing the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC), the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston’s Back Bay, the Boston Common Garage, and the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Today, conventions at Boston facilities generate more than $500 million in annual economic impact for the Commonwealth and Greater Boston.

Rooney praised the MCCA board and his team, noting that “when we arrived at 415 Summer Street in 2001, the BCEC was just a massive pile of dirt. Together, we have built not just a spectacular facility, but a culture of excellence that is known throughout the world. We have welcomed millions of people from around the globe and from every neighborhood. Time and again, we have proven our critics wrong. Our work together is something I will always be proud of. Thank you for 14 years, and an experience in my career that will be a part of me forever.”

Prior to joining the MCCA, Rooney served as chief of staff to Mayor Thomas M. Menino. He also worked for 18 years at the MBTA, rising to deputy general manager, and served in senior positions at the Mass. Turnpike Authority and Central Artery Project. He grew up in South Boston, and is a graduate of Harvard College and attended Boston University’s School of Management. Rooney lives in Dorchester with his wife, Maryanne.

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