Kearney succeeds Sean Rugless in the role leading the chamber effective April 1. Previously, Kearney's political career includes serving as Ohio Senate Minority Leader and Ohio Senator for the 9th District, according to the chamber. He was also briefly a Democratic lieutenant governor candidate with running mate Ed Fitzgerald in the 2014 election for Ohio's governor until Kearney withdrew from the race.
Rugless is launching a new business, The Katalyst Group, that will focus on strategic consulting, brand development, multicultural marketing, and diversity and inclusion frameworks. Rugless became CEO of the chamber in 2008.