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Chamber Celebrates 2022 Successes and Announces What’s Next at 80th Annual Meeting

Chamber Celebrates 2022 Successes and Announces What’s Next at 80th Annual Meeting

Carrboro Business Alliance Member News Event Partnership for a Sustainable Community Connect

The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro welcomed 116 new members, celebrated 2022 successes, announced 2023 priorities, and honored four exceptional leaders

Chapel Hill, NC – On Friday, February 3, 2023, The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill hosted its 80th Annual Meeting presented by Trinsic Residential Group. Nearly 300 business and community leaders, including many of the more than 100 new members, convened at The Carolina Club to celebrate 2022 progress, announce 2023 priorities, and honor four exceptional leaders.

2022 Successes

On behalf of 2022 Board Chair Vakesia Graves (Duke Energy), Chamber President and CEO Aaron Nelson shared his reflections on 2022 performance, highlighting The Chamber’s successful work in:

1) Growing the member network: welcomed 116 new members – the largest class of new members in a decade.

2) Enhancing member value: launched two new e-newsletters and rebuilt the online Membership Directory.

3) Improving our positive impact in the community: advanced Affordable Housing and Workforce & Innovation initiatives, cosponsored the Inclusive Employment Summit, and provided organizational support to the Summer Careers Academy skilled trades career training program.

4) Improving our systems and operations: enhanced their International Export Document Processing services, implemented a new system to orient newly elected officials, and improved event management and registration.

“The Chamber’s systems are stronger, programming is more robust, and fiscal controls are sound,” said Aaron Nelson, President and CEO, The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro. “In 2022, we grew our member network, enhanced member value, improved our positive impact in the community. We are well-positioned to build community and drive progress in 2023 and beyond.”

Big Bold Ideas

Co-chairs of the Big Bold Ideas Committee on Innovation and Workforce Development, Sheryl Waddell, UNC’s Director of Economic Development and Innovation Hubs, and Pavani Peri, co-founder and Chief Operations Officer of Acta Solutions, offered a timely update on committee progress. The co-chairs announced the committee’s goals of:

  • Dramatically increasing the number of employers, jobs, the amount of investment, funding, and patents issued by 2026.
  • Ensuring employers have the talent they need to succeed with 80% of Orange County residents being workforce-ready with a postsecondary degree, certificate, or credential by 2026.
  • Increasing the number of women and minority-owned enterprises to more closely reflect the demographics of our community by 2026.

To learn more about Big Bold Ideas and how to get involved, click here.


Four extraordinary community leaders were honored with special accolades.

  • 2022 Chair’s Award for Service to The Chamber: John Kiley
  • 2022 Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership: Damon Seils, Town of Carrboro Mayor
  • 2022 Town & Gown Award: Anna Wu, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services, UNC Chapel Hill
  • Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award: Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, President, El Centro Hispano

Scroll down to read citations. 

Vision for the Future

The Chamber 2023 Chair, Lori Doherty, discussed the challenges and opportunities for Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro and announced The Chamber’s top two priorities for 2023:

  • Secure the resources necessary to address challenges and advance our bold vision.
  • Continue to grow The Chamber’s membership and strengthen the organization.

“Our region has complex housing, education, and workforce challenges that must be addressed, and business as usual approaches will not get us there,” said Doherty. “We believe this community has the will and resources to make significant, new, long-term investments in The Chamber’s capacity to build community and drive progress for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro.”

Doherty remarks concluded with an introduction of The Chamber's 2023 Officers and Executive Committee:

  • Chair: Lori Doherty, Doherty Home Inspection
  • Vice Chair: Dan Lehman, UNC Hospitals
  • Treasurer: Sweta Adkin, Adkin CPA PLLC
  • CEO and Secretary: Aaron Nelson, The Chamber
  • Vice Chair for Membership: Connolly Walker, Harris & Co. Insurance
  • Vice Chair for Government Affairs: Betsy Harris, Armacell
  • Vice Chair for Strategy: Chris Peronto, UNC’s Kenan Flagler Business School
  • Vice Chair for Technology: Tola Oguntoyinbo, Shine Big Feedback
  • Chair of the Partnership for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro: Creighton Blackwell, Coastal Credit Union
  • General Counsel: Bob Saunders, Brooks Pierce Law Firm

To view The Chamber’s 2023 Board Leadership Team, click here.

What's Next?

The Chamber members in attendance were also asked “What’s Next?” for 2023. Several attendees stood up to share exciting news about what they are looking forward to in the year to come. Representatives from the following organizations shared news about expansions, partnerships, programs, and more.

  • Durham Tech
  • Jersey Mikes and Al’s Burger Shack
  • The Frame and Print Shop
  • Durham Tech Small Business Center
  • The Arts Center
  • Town of Carrboro
  • South Orange Rescue Squad
  • JLL
  • Triangle Digital Partners
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • Longfellow Real Estate Partners

About the Annual Meeting 
The 80th Annual Meeting was held at The Carolina Club in Chapel Hill from 8:00-10:30 a.m. Guests were greeted by UNC’s Rameses and the UNC Achordants provided entertainment. The event featured sixteen speakers, including U.S. Representative Valerie Foushee. Event photographs were taken by Susan Murray and can be viewed here. The 2023 Annual Meeting was presented by Trinsic Residential Group with additional sponsors, including Adkin CPA PLLC, BOLD Companies, Brooks Pierce Law Firm, Community Home Trust, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Durham Tech, Piedmont Health, Prestige Associates, and Terra Nova Global Properties.

About The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro
The Chamber is a membership organization that serves and advances the business interests of Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, including the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro as well as southern Orange, northern Chatham, and southwest Durham counties. The Chamber's network includes more than 600-member enterprises that employ 95,000 workers throughout the region. Together with its network, The Chamber is committed to building a sustainable community where business thrives.

Award Citations

John Kiley, Recipient of the 2022 Chair’s Award for Service to the Chamber

*Remarks prepared by 2022 Board Chair Vakesia Graves (Duke Energy)

This award is presented annually by the Chair of The Chamber’s Board of Directors to an individual in recognition of their exceptional service to the Chamber, its mission, and its members.

This year’s award is presented to the Board member who I have relied on the most over the last year.

I relied on them to be diligent, attentive to detail, to raise issues, and to share a differing opinion when they disagreed.

I relied on their professionalism, their decades of experience as a business executive, their nearly ten years of small business coaching and counselling, and their years of service on our finance committee where they helped steer the Chamber through uncharted financial waters as we went into and came out of the pandemic.

As the Chamber’s Treasurer, Chair of the Finance Committee, member of the Chamber Executive Committee, and trusted Chamber advisor for more than three years, I am pleased to present the 2022 Chair’s Award for Service to the Chamber to John Kiley.

Damon Seils, Recipient of the 2022 Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership

*Remarks prepared by 2022 Board Chair Vakesia Graves (Duke Energy)

This award is presented annually to an individual whose work and community service builds bridges between the public and private sectors to the benefit of the entire community.

This year’s Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership goes to Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils.

Mayor Seils has long served the Carrboro community, as a Town Alderman, then Town Council Member, and now Mayor, and has well-represented the people of Carrboro on regional organizations.

In particular, we want to recognize his partnership with the business community and his responsiveness to the Carrboro Business Alliance and to The Chamber in the design and construction of Carrboro’s 203 Project, a new library and cultural center being built by the Town in downtown.

The final design of the project includes the necessary infrastructure so that it meets the demand of users, can accommodate visitors, and will unlock economic development value for a more dynamic downtown.

In addition, he has led the Carrboro Town Council in the adoption of the new comprehensive plan, which focuses on economic sustainability, emphasizes the need for Carrboro to increase its commercial tax base, and calls for the development of a small area plan for the downtown. This downtown plan will prioritize well-designed, mixed-use development and public spaces on vacant and underutilized parcels.

For being receptive and responsive to the local business community and for being thoughtful in economic and community development strategies, we’d like to recognize Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils with the 2022 Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership!

Anna Wu, Recipient of The Chamber’s Town & Gown Award

*Remarks delivered by 2023 Chamber Board Vice Chair Dan Lehman (UNC Hospitals)

The Chamber’s Town & Gown Award is presented to an individual who fosters a mutually beneficial relationship between the greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro community and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The winner of this year’s Town & Gown Award is Anna Wu.

For 28 years, Anna Wu has applied her talent, creativity, and service to the function and beauty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  

Beginning her service to Carolina in 1995 as a facilities architect, Anna now serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services. 

Anna led the development of the 2001 Campus Master Plan and its update in 2006, which provided the framework that guided a 10-year, $2.3 billion capital program that transformed campus with the construction of six million square feet of new buildings and renovated one million square feet of historic buildings. She has also been an invaluable partner and resource supporting the growth and development of UNC Hospitals on the Chapel Hill campus.

Anna’s service extends beyond the university and is expressed in her deep engagement with the community, including service on the Habitat for Humanity of Orange County board of directors, where she has used her construction and architecture expertise to help lead the development efforts for Weaver’s Grove, Habitat’s largest community to date, and was instrumental in the creation of the organization’s new five-year strategic plan. 

The Chamber is recognizing Anna for her years of tremendous leadership and service to our university and to the broader local community.  Anna’s 28-year career at UNC has been an exemplar of how to engage with the surrounding community, both in the buildings and the relationships you have built. We are proud to present Anna Wu, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services at UNC Chapel Hill, with this year’s Town & Gown Award.

Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, Recipient of the 2022 Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award

*Remarks delivered by Indira Everett (Duke Energy)

The Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award is a tribute to individuals who use their time, talent, and compassion to make a positive difference in the community.

Created to celebrate Duke’s centennial, this year marks 18 years of partnering with The Chamber to present this award to a deserving individual.

The honoree must exhibit the following business values: Integrity, stewardship, inclusion, initiative, teamwork, and accountability.

The 2022 recipient of the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award is:

  • A coalition-builder who works well with government, non-profits, and local businesses.
  • An advocate and champion for the communities she works with, and who works hard to ensure all have access and influence in community decision making
  • A person who has served her organization for nearly 14 years and more than doubled its staffing, budget, capacity, and impact
  • A reliable partner who does what she says she will and demands that of others,
  • A strong fundraiser who successfully seeks the government grants and private investment needed to advance her mission ‘to strengthen the community, build bridges, and advocate for equity and inclusion.
  • A nationally recognized leader with a regional impact serving Orange, Durham, and Chatham Counties, running the state’s largest Latino-led and Latino serving organization,
  • And… A person whose service to the LatinX community during and through the pandemic and made a substantial and lasting positive impact in the areas of education, economic development, community health, community support, and civic and community engagement.

For her leadership, service, teamwork, coalition building, integrity, hard work and success, I am pleased to present the 2022 Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award to President and CEO of El Centro Hispano, Pilar Rocha-Goldberg.

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