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Fort Myers chamber president and CEO resigns position


  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 3:00 p.m. August 8, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Brian Hamman
Brian Hamman
Courtesy photo
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Brian Hamman, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce for a little over a year, has resigned — effective immediately. 

Hamman is leaving the organization to “focus on his family as his father navigates a serious health condition,” according to a statement. Hamman is also a Lee County commissioner for District 4. He will retain that position, the release states. 

“This has been a difficult decision as I’ve valued the relationships that have been built with our members, our supportive board of directors and our hardworking chamber team,” Hamman says in the statement. “Serving as the president and CEO of the chamber has been a blessing in my life, and I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished in the past year. I know that the chamber will continue to thrive under the leadership of the board and staff during this transition.”

Chamber Board Chair Jay Johnson, owner of Bubba’s Roadhouse and Saloon in Cape Coral, along with the chamber's executive committee, other board members and partners will fulfill the responsibilities of the president and CEO position while the board seeks a permanent replacement, the release states. In the interim, Hamman will serve in an advisory capacity to support the chamber and ensure a smooth transition and in the coming weeks, the release states, and board “Vice Chair Jen Whyte will assemble and oversee a committee of business-savvy leaders in the national search for the Chamber’s next president and CEO.” Whyte is a co-owner of Fort Myers Brewing Co.

“Brian has been a true champion for the chamber, rising to the occasion to provide much-needed leadership amidst the challenges of 2022 and guiding our Chamber and membership through hurricane recovery,” Johnson says in the statement. “Our board of directors is incredibly grateful for his significant impact in growing and strengthening the chamber while providing enhanced opportunities to empower, connect and unite our members and business community.”

The Fort Myers chamber now joins the Naples chamber in having its top leadership post in flux. The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce appointed Cotrenia Hood, with experience in chambers of commerce and economic development, interim president and CEO last month. 

Also, Hamman’s position didn’t come without some potential conflict of interest controversy — namely over him maintaining his role as Lee County commissioner while overseeing the county’s largest pro-business advocacy organization. Hamman replaced interim CEO Dianna Ryan in July 2022; Ryan, director of operations at the chamber, had been named interim CEO in May 2022 after longtime president and CEO Colleen DePasquale accepted a new position for a chamber in Colorado. DePasquale had been with the Fort Myers chamber since 2011. 

Hamman was first appointed to an open seat on the Lee County commission in 2013, by then-Gov. Rick Scott. Hamman, of Cape Coral, has since won elections for the seat in 2014, 2018 and 2022. Prior to politics, Hamman was manager of market development for telecommunications provider CenturyLink, a financial adviser and television reporter in Fort Myers. 

Serving Lee County and surrounding areas since 1989, the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce represents nearly 750 professionals and businesses throughout Southwest Florida. 

 

author

Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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