Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL)



First Advisor

Norma Noonan


The purpose of this action research project was to design an executive director retention plan for chambers of commerce. A literature review was conducted, reviewing inf,ormation on executive turnover, Ieadership traits and skills, and nonprofit executive challenges. A qualitative survey was emailed to 103 current chamber of commerce executive directors of whom 55 responded. A similar survey was emailed to 19 former chamber of commerce executives of whom 14 responded. The results of the surveys showed that executive directors of chambers tend to be visionary leaders who enjoy effecting change, serving businesses, and having leadership opportunities. Overall, executives are satisfied with their job. However, 76% give thought to leaving their chamber with 79% reporting some degree of burnout. An 1l-point retention plan was designed, emphasizing visionary leadership understanding, strategic planning, board support and expectation management, mentorship, peer groups, executive coaching, shared services, operational support and training, and strong reserves


SC 11.MAL.2011.Higgins.LR