MOORHEAD - The Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce has named the committee to search for the organization’s next leader.

The last member of the six-person committee was confirmed Thursday, Feb. 13, according to Tom Dawson, chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors.

The committee will look for a replacement for former CEO and President Craig Whitney. The 59-year-old West Fargoan, who had led the Chamber since January 2010, died Dec. 14 after a battle with cancer.

Members of the search committee include:

  • Steve Swiontek, executive chair of Gate City Bank, is the search committee chairman
  • Sandi Piatz, senior director at Microsoft and site leader for Microsoft’s Fargo campus
  • Jon Riewer, president and CEO of Eventide Senior Living Communities
  • Kristi Huber, president and CEO of the United Way of Cass Clay
  • Brian Shawn, Midco Sports Network, Midcontinent Communications
  • Anne Blackhurst, president of Minnesota State University Moorhead
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Swiontek, Piatz and Blackhurst are members of the Chamber’s board of directors and Riewer is a past board member, Dawson said.

Dawson said the group will meet in the next few days to discuss the search process and hiring a search firm.

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“We should be able to have a CEO on board within six months, beginning in the fall,” Dawson said. “We’re going to look both nationally and locally. We’re not going to have some assumption that this person has to come from outside the area. We know there’s really good candidates in the region.”

Whitney was well-respected in the region and brought a number of talents, energy and political insight to the job, Dawson said.

Craig Whitney (Forum File Photo)
Craig Whitney (Forum File Photo)

“We’re not trying to replicate Craig,” Dawson said. “He kind of set the standard for us. We’re looking for someone who can continue the energy and continue the reputation that Craig created.”

Dawson said the next few years will require someone who can navigate a changing political landscape.

“We want somebody who was as politically astute as he (Whitney) was. He was a team builder” and someone who can promote what is good for the community.

The Forum has suggested editorially that the Chamber and the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation consider merging their operations to save money and avoid duplication of effort. For now, Dawson said the Chamber will focus on hiring a CEO.

“We think a community like Fargo-Moorhead needs a really strong EDC and we need a really strong Chamber, but we also know that it is a logical question and we want to address it," Dawson said.