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Busy year for CEO transitions wraps up

Dec. 13, 2019

The year 2019 has seen a changing of the guard in the association establishment. Whether the chief executive transitions happened this year or will in the near future, there’s no denying that the leadership of the association community is profoundly changing.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce made big news by announcing its leader of two decades, President and CEO Tom Donohue, was relinquishing his title of president to Senior Executive Vice President Suzanne Clarke, and would retire as CEO in 2022.

But other long-tenured heavy hitters also are hanging up the c-suite cleats.

Retiring CEOs include Dawn Sweeney of the National Restaurant Association (after 12 years), Cal Dooley of the American Chemistry Council (12 years), Donna Harman of the American Forest & Paper Association (12 years), Dave McCurdy of the American Gas Association (nine years), Sandy Kennedy of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (17 years), Peter Larkin of the National Grocers Association (10 years) and Jim Greenwood of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (15 years).

When such figures move on, opportunities are created for existing CEOs to take on larger groups and for others to get the corner office for the first time.