Robert "Bob" Sweeney

Robert "Bob" Sweeney

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce has its next CEO.

The chamber on Tuesday announced Robert “Bob” Sweeney will begin his tenure as the business advocacy group’s new president and CEO on Nov. 10.

Sweeney, who currently serves as the director of corporate partnerships with the Kogod School of Business at American University, will succeed Debbie Jones, who announced her retirement in April. Jones has been with the chamber for more than 32 years, serving as the president and CEO of the chamber since July 2014.

Jones and Sweeney will work together in the leadership position before Jones retires on Dec. 31.

Sweeney previously served as an executive in residence and strategic advisor to the dean at the Kogod School of Business. According to a news release, he was instrumental in the Amazon HQ2 initiative, producing a regional overview and coordinating the state of Maryland, commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia through the bid data assimilation process, which led the local economic development teams to submit 15 sites in the Greater Washington region for Amazon’s new headquarters, which ultimately landed in Arlington County. 

Sweeney also served as managing director for Global Cities Initiative and was president and founding CEO of DC2024, the region's bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, where he led a four-year effort and helped raise over $5 million through business and philanthropic support.

“Over the course of his career, [Sweeney] has built nonprofit organizations from the ground up, partnered with regional economic development professionals to help attract specific targeted projects, and is a skilled negotiator and analyst with sponsorship, member development, event management and policy creation experience,” the release reads. “He has thrived in the business arena in the Greater Washington area. He has more than 20 years of corporate leadership experience and has a solid track record of pro-business advocacy and management for several high-profile nonprofit organizations.”

Sweeney was tapped after a nationwide search led by a chamber committee. Gayle Whitlock and Kathie Johnson, both past-chairs of the chamber, served as co-chairs of the search committee. The chamber also retained Anissa Starnes with YGM Total Resource Campaigns, LLC, to provide management and oversight for the national search.

“We are pleased to have someone of Bob’s caliber to lead our chamber into the future,” Rick Nishanian, chair of the Prince William Chamber’s Board of Directors, said in the release. “We welcome Bob to the Prince William region and feel that his leadership and passion for our area and our business community along with his high level of energy will complement the chamber’s program of work and take us to the next level. Bob is an experienced collaborator, nonprofit professional, consummate networker and a proven leader.” 

As president and CEO, Sweeney will oversee the staff and report to the chair of the Executive Committee of the chamber’s Board of Directors. The president and CEO is responsible for providing overall leadership and management to the membership, board, staff and volunteers in executing the respective missions of the chamber organizations, along with financial management, marketing, membership development and fundraising and overall office operations.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Prince William Chamber,” Sweeney said in the release. “I feel as if my entire career trajectory has led me to this position. It has long been a goal of mine to lead a local chamber of commerce and what better place to do it than in Prince William County.”

Sweeney is a graduate of West Virginia University with degrees in history and philosophy. In his free time, he enjoys relaxing at the lake, hiking, playing golf and volunteering for Scouts BSA. He serves on multiple boards, including the boards of Louisa Forward Foundation and Center for International Sports Leadership.

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce currently has more than 1,150 member businesses and organizations that employ more than 70,000 people.


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