January 28, 2023
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Editorial: New Santa Maria chamber CEO looks to build on legacy


Glenn Morris looks like a smart pick to run the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Morris, who will officially start on July 1, will move over from a similar post at the Visalia chamber, taking over from longtime CEO Bob Hatch.

During a phone chat with the Business Times, it was clear that Morris has a strong grasp of the organization that Hatch is leaving behind. “The house is in order,” he said. “Under Bob and the chamber board there was a lot of attention paid to getting things right.”

Morris, 47, solid strong credentials to the job of running the Tri-Counties’ fourth-largest chamber, as well as strong personal relationships with his new peers.

During his time at the Visalia chamber, he turned around that organization’s finances and then faced the task of guiding the organization through the recession.

In terms of personal relationships, he’s already worked closely with the heads of the two largest chambers in the Tri-Counties: Ken Oplinger of the Santa Barbara chamber and Ermina Karim of the San Luis Obispo chamber. And he brings an understated but effective sense of humor to the job — a very important attribute for a successful chamber president.

Morris’ career has spanned education, economic development and tourism promotion. “I have a passion for community organizations,” said Morris who has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business information systems from Utah State University. He holds an accredited chamber executive certificate from the Western Association of Chamber Executives.

In a broader sense, the selection of Morris signals a real changing of the guard when it comes to chamber of commerce and nonprofit leaders.

There are relatively new chamber CEOs in Santa Barbara, Lompoc and San Luis Obispo, and Zoe Taylor is serving as interim CEO in Paso Robles.

As we report elsewhere in this newspaper, Ventura County is undergoing a leadership change as the head of its community foundation steps down and one of its larger Boys & Girls Club chiefs moves on to a new position.

The transition from Hatch to a new chamber CEO won’t be easy. Change also creates opportunity. And in the case of Glenn Morris, it looks like the Santa Maria chamber board has made the right choice. We welcome Morris, his wife, Shana, and their four children to the Central Coast.