SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 3, 2018) – The Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce announced today the hiring of Erika Bjork as its brand strategy and communications officer and Chris Smith to serve as its director of government and political affairs. In addition, existing team members Emily Dutch, Rod Mackey, Samantha Beck, Andrea Ellinghouse and Dani Nations were promoted or will lead new efforts under existing titles.
“We are an organization that is strategic, purposeful and passionate about our Capital Region and that is directly reflected in our staff,” said Metro Chamber CEO and President Amanda Blackwood. “It was important for us to develop and elevate our internal talent and pair them with industry leaders so that we can advocate, grow and support our business community during a time of immense change and opportunity.”
As the brand strategy and communication officer, Bjork will lead the Metro Chamber’s communications, brand positioning and assist the Metro Chamber Board on several of its strategic initiatives. She is an executive with over 23 years of experience in corporate citizenship, interactive marketing, crisis communications and brand strategy. Previously, she served as the vice president of marketing and communications for Sacramento Republic FC and while at AugustineIdeas led the strategic marketing for destinations such as Downtown Napa, Incline Village and Paso Robles. Bjork has been recognized as the 2017 SPRA PR Professional of the Year, won an Emmy in her role as executive producer for Republic FC and was named the Metro Chamber’s Young Professional of the Year in 2013. She has been an active volunteer leader of the Metro Chamber as a founding member of Metro EDGE and in other various roles for the Civic Amenities and Study Mission Committees. In 2018, Bjork launched Matters of Import, LLC to assist organizations in elevating the passion and purpose of places that gather people together through culture, food and sport.
Joining Bjork will be Rod Mackey, who was promoted to the role of communications and research specialist. Mackey will continue his vital work providing research for key policy issues and programs, but also leverage his experience and degree in digital marketing and analytics to enhance the Metro Chamber’s digital communications.
Vice President of Member Relations Emily Dutch will expand her responsibilities by leading the operations and finance of the Metro Chamber, in addition to her current role overseeing member services. Dutch joined the Metro Chamber in 2017 and has been an integral part of leading and implementing a plan that leverages the use of data to redefine value and elevate the experience for both new and existing Metro Chamber members. Dutch, who is finishing her doctorate in educational leadership and management from Drexel University, has overseen an increase in new members so that 25 percent of Metro Chamber membership is now represented by businesses that joined in the last two years. This is in addition to a retention rate of 82 percent, an industry average.
Joining Dutch will be Samantha Beck who was promoted to the position of director of membership. Beck will lead all renewal and retention efforts, as well as enhance engagement with current membership through its programs, events and services. Beck is also leading a newly established Internal Cultural Team, to ensure the Metro Chamber creates an organizational culture of empowerment and diversity reflective of the membership it serves.
As the Metro Chamber enhances its programs and advocacy events, additional staff were added to support Vice President of Programs and Events Susan Harris Brazelton, including the promotion of Andrea Ellinghouse to director of strategic programs and Dani Nations to the position of events manager. Both Ellinghouse and Nations bring a wealth of experience and knowledge through their work on programs including Capitol-to-Capitol and Leadership Sacramento. Ellinghouse will also continue to provide support for the incredibly successful Metro Chamber Foundation programs, including but not limited to, Leadership Sacramento and Metro EDGE.
Chris Smith returns to the Metro Chamber in the new role of director of government and political affairs. Smith previously served as the policy manager for the Metro Chamber prior to spending a year in Washington D.C.as a legislative assistant for the government affairs and legal firm CJ Lake. During his time in D.C., he gained a unique perspective of how federal priorities can meet local needs and provided clients with a better understanding of complex public policy issues. This experience and Smith’s knowledge of advocacy issues at the local, state and federal level will be vital as the Metro Chamber collaborates with its partners on the implementation of the Prosperity Plan. The Metro Chamber is currently conducting a search for a vice president of public policy with the recent departure of Robert Dugan, whose experience and leadership poised the Metro Chamber’s advocacy to have a greater impact including key wins during the 2018 Capitol-to-Capitol Program.