Outgoing Fairfield chamber president ‘set a really high bar’

Chamber board of directors plans to solidify job qualifications for its president and CEO search early this week.

While the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is holding off until later this week to define the qualifications for its next president and chief executive, it does want someone “creative.”

Fairfield Chamber President and CEO Kert Radel will retire from the organization he’s led for 14 years in mid-September to return to the radio business. The board of directors decided early last week to pause on defining the qualifications just yet “to look further into our surrounding market’s current chamber CEO salaries,” said Fairfield chamber board President Jamie Bella.

A chamber president and CEO, running an organization the size of Fairfield’s, could command between $55,000 and $75,000, and Bella said they are “well within the range,” adding a qualified candidate could be compensated slightly higher.

“The board of directors is working through finding the right candidate deliberately and with much strategy,” she said. “While we do not have a finalized job posting, we do know the core abilities we are looking for in our new leader.

Bella said Radel “set a really high bar,” and while they would prefer a candidate withexperience in a chamber capacity, it’s not a deal-breaker.

“Leaders like Kert, who are tireless advocates for Fairfield and its businesses, are hard to come by,” she said.

Though the board doesn’t have a set list of qualifications, it does want the next chamber leader to be “a dynamic, innovative, personable, and accountable leader.” In order to head up the 500-member organization, the board wants someone who has demonstrated expertise in planning, fundraising, administration, board relations, communications, and public relations, as well as strong financial management.

Additionally, Bella said the board wants “a highly qualified leader that has very creative ideas,” Bella said. The next chamber president and CEO will also need to be capable of operating technology as the organization plans to invest in technology in the future, she said.

Since taking over the Fairfield chamber in 2008, Radel has grown membership and services. Radel is credited with either establishing or refining major events and programs, like Fairfield Career Fest, the Corporate Challenge, Spring Fest, the Business Roundtable Series, and the Fairfield Chamber Leadership Program.

Radel told the Journal-News last week that he, his staff and the chamber board are “always trying to listen to our members and see what their needs are, and met those needs. That was the most critical thing because you can offer benefits, but there are other things that they need to have in order to get their business to grow or to save money on their business operations.”

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