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How do you properly honor a legacy?

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

My original intent for this Blog was a wrap-up on the recent American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Convention in Nashville.  Always a highlight, this year’s meeting didn’t disappoint.  In fact, there is almost too much to write about but in spite of that, I can’t stop thinking of one of its lasting images:  retiring CEO Mick Fleming on stage at the Awards Reception bidding adieu after 16 years at the helm.

I will apologize at the outset if this blog comes off as a little too personal but I can’t help myself because I feel Mick’s tenure at ACCE coincided with RDG’s growth as a firm and my growth as a professional serving this industry.  You see, it wasn’t all that long after we launched RDG in 1995 that Mick took over as CEO at ACCE.  Our little firm was still finding its footing while ACCE was about to embark on a transformational journey of its own.  I guess you could say we sort of “grew up” together!

Admittedly, my personal relationship with Mick started off in somewhat choppy waters.  Without bearing the gory details let’s just say we didn’t see eye to eye on a few things and being the young and sometimes brash and outspoken “leader” that I thought I was, I wasn’t bashful about expressing my views.  To be fair, Mick was a tolerant ear and yet I was still able to find and cross his Mendoza line!  After all, while those Buffalo roots are grounded in fairness and equity, there is a limit to that New York patience!  Suffice it to say Mick and I shared some lively and healthy dialog!  One of my favorite early conversations with Mick ended with him telling me maybe it was time for me to “grow up” or something to that effect!

Yes, it took some time and a few twists and turns but here’s what I learned about Mick:  He’s fair, honest, ethical, loyal, outspoken, unflinchingly committed to the Chamber industry and most importantly, visionary.  It was this vision, HIS vision that led ACCE to develop and launch Horizon 2025, which I personally believe will transform the Chamber industry in ways none of us can imagine.  Now THAT’S a legacy!

So as we welcome Sheree Anne Kelly and continue to evolve as an association, let’s not forget 16 years of visionary leadership that has laid the foundation for the greatness in front of us.

Thank you, Mick!

Now for that Convention wrap-up:

I already mentioned the Awards Reception where we sweated it out as two RDG clients were finalists for Category 4 Chamber of the Year.  The Chattanooga Chamber took home the gold but congrats to all of the great Chambers who competed this year, including runner up the Charleston Metro Chamber.

The curriculum was strong (as always) and we are proud of the fact that a number of RDG clients were recognized for their industry best practices and chosen by their peers to participate on professional development panels:

Sybil Topel, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

Brandom Gengelbach, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

Ian Scott, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

Kelle Marsalis, Dallas Regional Chamber

Julie Grice, Indy Chamber

Hala Moddelmog, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Tallia Hart, San Francisco Chamber

Roy Williams, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce

Cheryl Millsaps, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

Michael Neal, Tulsa Regional Chamber

Joe Roman, Greater Cleveland Partnership

We had a fantastic evening attending the Metro & Major Cities Dinner at Nashville’s The Standard, catching up with old friends and meeting new friends. We are grateful for the opportunity to sponsor the Metro Cities Council and we enjoyed once again co-hosting with our good friends at NCDS, sponsors of the Major Cities Council.

We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize our friend and client Jay Chesshir, Little Rock Regional Chamber who was nominated to serve another year as ACCE Chair.

Finally, a shout out to Sheree Anne Kelly:  Welcome and strap on your seat belt for what will no doubt be a great ride!  You have big shoes to fill but rest assured you will have plenty of help!

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