GILBERT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE RECOGNIZES RETIRING CEO, ANNOUNCES SUCCESSOR

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce today announced the retirement of president and chief executive officer Kathy Tilque, effective June 30, 2020. Tilque provided notice to the organization’s board of directors and announced her intention to run for a seat on Gilbert Town Council nearly one year ago. Sarah Watts, current vice president of workforce and community partnerships at the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, has been selected to fill the position beginning July 1, 2020.

Kathy Tilque

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce today announced the retirement of president and chief executive officer Kathy Tilque, effective June 30, 2020. Tilque provided notice to the organization’s board of directors and announced her intention to run for a seat on Gilbert Town Council nearly one year ago. Sarah Watts, current vice president of workforce and community partnerships at the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, has been selected to fill the position beginning July 1, 2020.

Tilque has served as the president and CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce since July 1996 and has worked in the chamber industry for more than 30 years. She is a founding member of the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance (EVCCA) and began her career at the Copperas Cove (TX) Chamber of Commerce in 1987.

In her role, Tilque has served on several community and regional boards and commissions over the years. She is a co-creator of the Gilbert Leadership program, a founder of Positive Paths Women’s Foundation, recently completed the Town of Gilbert Citizens’ Police Academy, and has been awarded the Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Admired Leader award and Positive Paths Women’s Foundation East Valley Woman of the Year award.

Tilque received her Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) accreditation from the American Chambers of Commerce Executives (ACCE) which is the highest designation for chamber executives nationally. She also is a graduate of the US Chamber’s Institute for Organizational Management (IOM) program, American Chambers of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Board member, past president and current Board member for the Arizona Chamber Executives (ACE), Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE) Board member, chair and Board member of the US Chamber of Commerce Board of Regents, former board member of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, chair and founding member of the Arizona Chamber’s Local Chamber Committee.

“I’m so humbled by the support I’ve received these past 24-years at the Gilbert Chamber, and I have loved every minute of working with the business community and community leaders to grow Gilbert into the amazing community it is today,” said Kathy Tilque. “I support the year-long, national search the committee went through. Sarah is hands-down the best choice to lead this organization forward and through these unchartered waters. She has earned this position as evidenced by the unwavering support of community leaders.”

With Tilque’s notice to the board of directors, a search committee was appointed with representation by all executive board members and a former board chairperson. The committee worked with WACE to establish a job description and a national search was conducted, including posts through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, WACE and local job boards. The search committee made recommendation of Watts to the board of directors in May and finalized details this past week.

Sarah Watts

Watts joined the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce in July 2008 and has proven success in cultivating relationships and building strategic partnerships with Chamber members, community volunteers, education partners, local and regional Chambers of Commerce leaders for the benefit of the programs and services of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and Gilbert Chamber Foundation. She has served the organization in several key areas, including strategic planning, fundraising, workforce development and marketing.

Watts received a Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude in Journalism from Arizona State University. She is a graduate of the Gilbert Leadership program as well as a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management (IOM) and Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) programs.

“Though we had several strong candidates, Sarah Watts was by far the leader,” said Jasmin Holmes, Chair-Elect for the Board of Directors and owner of 910 West. “Myself and my fellow search committee members did our due diligence casting a wide net to ensure that we selected the right person to lead the Gilbert Chamber into the future. We were careful and balanced in our considerations and came to this decision only after a completing a comprehensive search. Though we’re not surprised that the right person is our very own Sarah Watts, we are excited by the experience and passion that she brings to her new role and our community.”

“It truly is my honor to be selected for this role and to continue to serve Gilbert’s business community. When I stop to think of all the individuals who have provided guidance and mentorship to me over the years, I can’t help but feel a strong sense of gratitude,” said Watts. “This is such a special Chamber, built on relationships and support of one another in times of struggle and prosperity. I look forward to the road ahead and will follow in Kathy’s footsteps to listen with thought and lead with character. Our focus will continue to be serving our community through opportunities for connection, growth, and community involvement.”

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The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1978, is a nonprofit, membership-based organization with more than 820 members ranging from home-based businesses to large corporations and representing more than 52,000 employees. The Chamber proactively serves as a business advocate to strengthen the business climate in Gilbert. The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce Foundation was established in 2016 and is dedicated to advancing the quality of life in Gilbert through education, leadership, and community enhancement. To learn more about the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and its Foundation, please contact (480) 892-0056 or visit gilbertaz.com.