Naperville chamber parts with chief executive
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The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce is parting ways with President and CEO Mike Evans, who began leading the chamber's staff slightly less than a year ago.
The chamber board and Evans came to a mutual decision not to extend his contract, which was up for renewal, chamber officials said.
Evans was hired Nov. 20, 2012, and officially took the reins Dec. 10.
Katie Wood, executive director of Downtown Naperville Alliance, has been named acting chief executive and will begin serving in that role later this week. She said she is not interested in applying for the permanent position as chamber president and CEO and will continue leading the Downtown Naperville Alliance, which is affiliated with the chamber.
Evans cited personal obligations and the demands of the job leading a regional chamber of roughly 1,500 members as he stepped down effective Monday morning. In a statement, he said he is proud of his work with the chamber.
"This chamber is a remarkable organization with outstanding members. It has been my honor to lead it during its centennial anniversary," Evans said. "At this time, however, my obligations to my children and family come first, so in consultation with the board, we decided that not renewing was in both our interests."
Reached by phone, Evans said his contract would have lasted through Nov. 30, and he will be available if Wood has questions during the transition. He said he is leaving the chamber "in great shape and moving full-steam ahead" after refocusing on providing value for members, launching new programs such as the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and recruiting dozens of new members.
Earlier this month, city officials had obtained an email calling into question Evans' conduct at a Bolingbrook bar. Evans said he had no comment. Chamber officials said Monday they have no official comment on the alleged incident, but Evans' conduct was not a concern.
"It was in everyone's best interests not to renew the contract and that's the whole story," Patrick Skarr, a spokesman for the chamber, said.
The board plans to conduct a search for a permanent successor but is not yet accepting applications. It will meet Tuesday to begin planning to find a replacement and setting a timeline.
"While this decision brings additional change to the chamber, I assure our members we will not lose focus," Cathy Subber, chairwoman of the chamber's board, said in a statement. "The chamber will continue to promote our businesses, help members grow and advocate for an improved business climate to help support the economy and job creation."
Before Evans took the Naperville job, he worked as president and CEO of the Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce beginning in 2007. He said his background is in association management and economic development.
Evans succeeded John Schmitt, who served three years as the chamber's president.
As Wood steps into the acting chief executive role, she said she will expand her experience marketing and advocating for downtown businesses to a regional level. She said all chamber programs and initiatives, such as a website redesign, will continue as planned.
"This is really just an extension of my role with the Downtown Naperville Alliance," Wood said. "I hope to be able to transfer that even further out to the Naperville area businesses via the chamber."
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