The president and CEO of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, Betsy Burian, will soon be stepping down from her role after seven years.
“I have very, very much enjoyed my time in Charles County working for this very fine organization,” Burian said in an interview.
With a resume longer than most people’s, Burian had ample experience coming into the position as both a leader and an active member in the business community.
From the 1970s to 2012, Burian held an array of roles in Prince George’s County, including executive director for the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce, city councilwoman for Bowie and community/business consultant in Bowie. (She also branched out to Baltimore to serve as the deputy secretary for the Maryland Department of Planning from 2003 to 2007.)
Then, in 2012, she found her way to Charles County. “I was looking to see what was out there,” she said, when she stumbled upon an ad for the county’s chamber of commerce. Well, sort of. “The ad never stated that it was with the chamber of commerce but having spent so much time working for a chamber of commerce it sounded like a chamber of commerce to me,” Burian joked. “So I applied.”
Darlene Breck was one of the members on the ad hoc committee that sorted through candidates for the position of president/CEO. (At the time, the position was called executive director.)
Burian was offered employment and she accepted. “It wound up being a great for us,” said Breck, a past chair of the board. “She had a lot of things that she brought to the table.”
During her time at the chamber, Burian worked on numerous projects and events. One of her earlier projects was getting the chamber involved with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. In the program, middle to high school-aged students met with business leaders and entrepreneurs — all volunteers — and learned how to start their own business. “It was a wonderful experience for the students that did it, that were involved in it,” Breck said.
One of the projects Burian said she is most proud of is getting the chamber involved with the Military Alliance Council. In 2015, the council was established by the chamber “to serve as a liaison between the defense and civilian communities in recognition of the important role the defense industry and the military play in the quality of life for our citizens, as well as our local economy,” according to the chamber’s website. Burian called this “an extremely valuable addition to the Charles County community.”
Among the events she worked with included the chamber’s golf tournament, the La Plata Bed Races and the Bounty of the County, which was one of immediate past board chair Natalie Cotton’s favorite moments from working with Burian. “She’s passionate about the Charles County Community and this event showcases all that we have to offer here,” Cotton said in an email.
Cotton was a new board member when Burian became president/CEO. “I remember she brought a sense of purpose and calm to the chamber with her many years of experience,” she said. “During my chairmanship, I learned that Betsy is extremely knowledgeable and her passion for the chamber is heartfelt and genuine so I came to rely on her knowledge and experience throughout my chairmanship.”
Current Chairman of the Board Daniel Michael also shared similar thoughts of Burian. “She really does truly care about the county, and about the community,” said Michael. Four to five years ago, Michael met Burian for the first time at a chamber event he had been networking at, and in 2016, he joined the chamber board. Like Cotton, Michael has worked hand in hand with Burian on events, including the Bounty of the County. “She’s got this smile that just really puts you at ease,” he said. “I just can’t say nice enough words about her.”
Burian’s not sure what’s next on the agenda for her, but she does know this: “I’ll miss many of the people I have come to know,” she said. “They are not only members of the chamber but … they become personal friends, people I have certainly learned from and enjoyed.”
And she, too, will be missed. “We are really gonna be at a loss without her,” Michael said. “She was able to really put people at ease with a nice smile and a genuine heart and she will be sorely missed.”
The chamber is an amalgamation of 30 board members and multiple volunteers whose work is greatly valued, Burian said. For more information on the chamber and membership with the chamber, visit www.charlescountychamber.org.
The Charles County Chamber of Commerce is accepting applications for the role. Preferred qualifications include a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience, “success in managing staff and effectively working with a Board of Directors” and “minimum of 5 to 7 years of organizational experience with at least five spent as a member of a leadership team.”
To apply, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 301-932-6500 or email email@example.com.