Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber Announces New President & CEO
The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber Board announced today that Dr. Alexis Ehrhardt will become its new CEO/President as of Jan. 2, 2018. Ehrhardt is currently the executive director of the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) at Averett University.
"Alexis has such a genuine passion for our region," Chamber Board President Bert Eades shared. "The combination of this passion and her proven track record of organizational leadership impressed everyone on the search committee. In focus groups and survey responses, our membership made it clear they want a leader who will build partnerships locally, regionally and statewide. As the head of the CCECC, Alexis has done just that."
Ehrhardt is "honored to be given this tremendous responsibility for our region. Laurie Moran set the gold standard for Chamber work. With the support of the membership, the Chamber Staff and I will strive to meet that standard and, hopefully, one day exceed it. The success of business is critical to accelerating the already positive momentum in our region," Ehrhardt believes. "Our focus is on our members and how we can work across all aspects of our community to help them reach their goals."
Eades commented that Jorgenson Consulting presented the search committee with eight strong and seriously interested candidates. "We narrowed it down to five semi-finalists. We toured the out-of-town candidates around the County and City, had dinner with all five candidates, and conducted a panel interview of each candidate. We then chose two very qualified candidates from this pool and conducted further, extensive interviews. Finally, we checked references and our consultant conducted background checks."
"Alexis impressed us throughout the process," Board Chair-Elect Dr. Paul Erwin added. "I had never met her, but I instantly felt her love for the area and her keen intelligence. Anyone who can earn a doctorate while establishing a totally new center clearly knows how to produce results," Erwin said. "The Chamber has been and will continue to be results-oriented in all that we do. Alexis has that unique ability to think strategically and then get down to brass tacks to make the big ideas happen."
Ehrhardt earned her Doctorate in Leadership Studies from Lynchburg College in 2016. Prior to heading the CCECC, she worked on university wide initiatives with Dr. Janet Laughlin, retired Averett Vice President for Academic Affairs. At Danville Community College, Ehrhardt led the transfer program that supported DCC students in pursuing four-year degrees. She moved to the area in 2000 to work in the Admissions Office at Chatham Hall, where she served as the director prior to working at a start-up consulting business in the Washington, D.C. area.
"I moved here right out of college and fell in love with Chatham. Eating chicken at Pat’s Place on Thursdays, talking with Mr. Jackson at Chatham Hall about his gardens, being welcomed with open arms by the congregation at Chatham Baptist Church all created connections like I had never known growing up in suburban Maryland," Ehrhardt commented. "It just felt like home, in a way that I had never experienced before."
Ehrhardt lives in Danville with her husband Scott, a senior associate at Dewberry, and their two sons, Xavier and Hayden. "My husband has lived here since 1988. We’re committed to raising our family here. I want this to be a great place to live, work and play for my sons, who are 7 and 4, so I’ll be taking a long-term view in my work at the Chamber."
A member of the Riverview Rotary Club since 2012, Ehrhardt is currently serving as President of the Club and Chair of the District Grants Committee. She is also concluding a two-year term as Chair of the City’s Transportation Advisory Committee. Last year she graduated from LEAD Virginia, which she says gave her an amazing overview of the Commonwealth. "I was able to make numerous connections throughout the state which will be invaluable in this new role."
As Executive Director of the CCECC, Ehrhardt worked locally, regionally and statewide to leverage resources to benefit not only the students at Averett, but the region as a whole. She established a local Career Development Advisory Committee, led the recruitment of 22 employers to participate in the Engaged Employers Program, secured a state-level grant to establish an AmeriCorps VISTA program in the region, hosted the Governor’s Summit on Engagement in the Commonwealth, and set up the Service Year Fellowship with the County and the City, which received coverage in Time magazine this summer. In recognition of these accomplishments, Averett named Ehrhardt Staff Member of the Year for 2016-17.
"Alexis knows how to get the players to the table and to get things done," Eades concluded. "Under her direction, the Chamber will continue to lead at the local, regional and state level. I am 100 percent confident that our members will be ‘wowed’ by the programs and services the Chamber will deliver for them."