Douglas L. Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, announced Thursday that he plans to retire from the chamber in June 2014.
Whitley, 63, became president and CEO in September 2001. During his tenure, the chamber has represented business interests on several matters, including pushing for workers' compensation reform, helping to defeat a proposed gross receipts tax, founding and co-chairing the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, advocating for infrastructure investment, calling for fiscal integrity and seeking legislation to bring long-term solvency to Illinois public pension systems.
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"I am proud of the accomplishments of the Illinois Chamber, especially since we made progress in the face of a decade that was dismal for business in Illinois," Whitley said. "The political dysfunction of our state government, marked by corruption, lack of fiscal discipline and excessive unemployment, has not made it an easy era for Illinois employers."
Ray Drake, chairman of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said Whitley has transformed the chamber during his 12 years at the helm.
"As a result of Doug's initiative, leadership and management, the Illinois Chamber today has seven policy councils that address the most important public policy issues, an effective government affairs operation, alliances with the nation's leading advocacy organizations and a very capable staff."
Drake said that the Illinois Chamber Board will conduct a nationwide search for a successor.
He noted that the timing of Whitley's retirement gives the next Chamber CEO and its board time to establish new leadership and set its agenda before the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Whitley said, "The political dysfunction of our state government, marked by corruption, lack of fiscal discipline and excessive unemployment, has not made it an easy era for Illinois employers."
Still, he added "this is one of the best jobs in Illinois. As chamber president, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with elected officials at the local, state and federal levels on public policy that directly affects the daily life of all employers and employees in Illinois. ... And, it has been a joy to meet thousands of job-creators throughout Illinois, who run companies that allow the people of Illinois to earn their livings and support their families and communities."