Next Wednesday, June 15, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 91st Annual Board Installation Dinner. This is our crowning event of the year, marking our transition of leadership and celebrating the outgoing Board of Directors for their service and coming together in support of our new leaders’ vision.

For the past two years, our Board of Directors has been led by Chair Julia Ladd, Assistant Vice President of Property Management at Macerich, which operates one of the gems of our city, Santa Monica Place. The Chamber has grown to new heights, guided by Julia’s dedication to community engagement, policy expertise and unwavering advocacy for our members. We extend our deepest thanks to Julia for her service and are grateful for her continued support. We are very excited to welcome Yesenia Monsour of Kaiser Permanente as our incoming Chair. Yesenia’s thoughtfulness and passion are an inspiration to everyone who knows her, and will be valued assets to our Board of Directors. It’s thanks to women leaders like these that we have grown to a record number of members-more than 1,100 and growing fast!

Such growth is also due to the many ways the Chamber benefits our members, from increasing their visibility, to providing support and education, to being an informed and active voice on policy matters. Our businesses, in turn, provide tremendous value to the city of Santa Monica. In addition to the millions we contribute to the city’s general fund (supporting services from police to fire to parks and the arts), we also give back in donations, provide, volunteerism and by being good neighbors every day. Indeed, the Chamber partners with our business leaders to support the things that make Santa Monica great, while providing great jobs and building a thriving city. This year alone, the Santa Monica Chamber Foundation is giving to Virginia Avenue Park, the Police Activities League and the Education Foundation and supports the production of the SAMO High Career Day in partnership with the City of Santa Monica. Further, emerging business leaders are training (through our PEBL Committee) to be engaged and generous civic stewards.

Partnerships are key to our effectiveness. We team with countless city organizations to build a more vibrant Santa Monica: Santa Monica College on innovative education programs, City Hall on the Buy Local campaign, and hundreds of women pioneers through the Organization of Women Leaders (OWL).

We live in challenging times nationally and at home, but our businesses rise above. We owe it to ourselves to reflect with gratitude on everything we’ve been able to achieve for our community.

We at the Chamber are truly grateful for our Board of Directors, members and partners with whom we work 24/7 on issues critical to our city’s wellbeing. In the past year, we have been a leading voice on dialogues around the city’s landmark minimum wage ordinance, the zoning ordinance and now the so-called LUVE initiative, about which our board and members have expressed deep concern. As always, the Chamber will work around the clock to keep the entire community informed and engaged.

Business is the backbone of any community. Businesses are your friends and next-door neighbors. They help our community thrive. We are bridge builders, innovators, problem solvers, advocates, caregivers and historians. We are proud of our legacy of leadership and look with excitement to the year ahead.

We hope you can join us to celebrate next Wednesday, June 15 at the Fairmont Miramar. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit www.smchamber.com/installationdinner.

– Laurel Rosen, President/CEO, Santa Monica Chamber

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