Clayton Whitson, a former member of the Madison County Council, will be named the new CEO of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, board chair Kris Zinszer confirmed Wednesday afternoon.
A formal announcement is expected Thursday morning at the Chamber’s Wake Up! Breakfast.
A firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Elwood Fire Department, Whitson served on the County Council from 2014 to 2018 and is president of the Elwood Economic Development Commission.
“We are extremely excited,” Zinszer said. “We’ve had a diligent process and we’ve taken it at a slow pace deliberately to do our due diligence. In the end, the board decided Mr. Whitson was the one best suited to lead the Chamber and our business community forward into this new era of chamber activity.”
Whitson, 35, was selected after a four-month search that drew interest from at least 50 candidates nationwide, Zinszer said. The board consulted with the Indiana Chamber Executive Association during the search, and candidates from South Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and other places were considered.
For Whitson, an Elwood native, the announcement represents “kind of a career 360” as he takes over at the helm of an organization that is seeking to refine its message and redefine some elements of its identity and its place in the community.
“It’s a natural fit for the Chamber to be an advocacy vehicle for the business community and its needs,” Whitson said. “A thriving business community means a thriving community overall. We want to produce the best and most marketable workforce for our members.”
Zinszer said board members were united in their desire to find the right candidate regardless of where they came from.
“We want to move forward without being hindered by the challenges of the recent past,” Zinszer said. “(Whitson) knows the players, he knows the membership, he knows the government leaders. He also knows some of the past challenges we’ve faced. It came down to his ability to articulate vision and leadership to move us forward in a new direction.”
Whitson, who graduated from Indiana State University with a degree in criminology, will officially assume his duties with the Chamber on Jan. 1. He resides with his wife, Julia, in Elwood.