Susan Balla is saying goodbye to The Chamber of Commerce, Inc. after more than three years as executive director.
“This has been my passion,” she said Monday.
Balla announced her intention to retire from The Chamber to the organization’s board of directors in October. Her last day as executive director is Feb. 15.
A Gibsonia resident, Balla was The Chamber’s first executive director after the Cranberry Area Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Allegheny County Chamber of Commerce merged in January 2010. She was chosen from a pool of more than 200 candidates for the position, according to Chamber officials.
Then president of the Cranberry organization, Balla also served on the merger transition board and actively assisted and supported the joining of the two chambers.
A former business development officer who worked for several financial institution before taking The Chamber position, Balla said some of the greatest accomplishments under her tenure include combing the two different chambers (and their cultures), solidifying the new Chamber’s foundation and adding innovative programs, among them the Women in Business University and the Institute for Professional Excellence.
In 2013, The Chamber also will kick off its Emerging Community Leaders program for young professionals, she said.
“We made a lot of progress in a short span of time,” Balla said. “It’s a great time. And it’s a great time for new director.”
The Chamber credited Balla’s strong community and business connections for growing the organization. That includes increasing The Chamber's financial growth, membership growth and by expanding the group’s footprint in the region.
“We celebrate and applaud her efforts and accomplishments, wishing her all the joys and happiness with her family in retirement, and she will be missed,” a statement from the Chamber said.
The Chamber also has named a new executive director.
Following a national search of more than 180 candidates, The Chamber has hired Rebecca Martin to replace Balla.
Martin is a certified chamber professional with experience in economic development, tourism, small business and membership organizations, according to The Chamber. A Pennsylvania native with family in Pittsburgh, she plans to move from Austin, Texas to begin her new role Feb. 1.
“The Personnel Committee went through an extensive search to replace Susan, and with the support of the Board of Directors, Ms. Martin was clearly the candidate with the expertise and strong leadership skills to serve as our new Executive Director,” The Chamber said in a statement.
Balla, who said she plans to spend more time with her husband, a semi-retired attorney, at their home in Florida after retirement, said she would spend two weeks transitioning Martin into the new role.
She also plans to continue her involvement with The Chamber, whether that means volunteering with the organization or lending a hand at events.
“Whatever way they want me, I’ll only be a phone call away,” she said.
Did you work with Susan Balla at The Chamber? Offer her a congratulations on her retirement in the comment section below!