My appreciation for the OBI that is, and the OBI that will be
By Karen Vineyard, chair, OBI board of directors
In my 19 months as chair of Oregon Business & Industry, I have seen this organization, and our members, tackle challenge after challenge. In recent months, I’ve used this column to talk about those challenges – and potential solutions – and what they mean for the broader Oregon business community.
Now, as July rolls into August, it’s enlightening to take stock of where we’re at as an organization. It’s clear to me – and to my fellow board members – that OBI is stronger than it’s ever been. And that’s thanks largely to our incredible staff, who work each day to ensure that our voices are heard in Salem, and that Oregon’s amazing businesses have a place to convene and celebrate the strength of our community.
You may have read that OBI is bringing a new CEO on board Sept. 1. Angela Wilhelms brings a broad array of experiences to our organization: she is a lawyer who has worked at both the Oregon Legislature and the U.S. Congress. And, for the past six years she has held a critical leadership role at the University of Oregon, working directly with the Board of Trustees on issues critical to UO’s vitality.
Most importantly, Angela is committed to being a leader who looks for opportunities to build partnerships and drive solutions for Oregon businesses. Her approach to this important role is consistent with the values we’ve established for OBI, and it will build upon the strong base that is already there.
Angela’s charge will be to build a long-term direction for our organization, working directly with our members and our partners to identify issues that matter most to Oregon businesses and then tackle them head on. We want to ensure that Oregon businesses are at the table with a strong and clear voice as our state’s leaders develop policies impacting how we operate. I am confident that Angela is the right person to do that as OBI’s CEO.
Angela plans to travel around Oregon to meet with as many of you as she possibly can in person – and remotely. If we learned anything in the pandemic, it’s that we don’t all have to be in the same location to have an effective meeting. I expect Angela to host webinars and other virtual get-acquainted sessions so she can hear directly from you.
Angela will join a strong OBI team that has worked hard for our members in the last couple of years, navigating a myriad of new business regulations and difficult political landscapes, changing public health guidelines and our own internal organizational processes – all while working mostly from home. I am proud to say they rose to the challenge and excelled.
Our expert policy team — Paloma Sparks, Scott Bruun, Sharla Moffett, and Morgan Beltz — showed up each day during the virtual legislative session ready to advocate fiercely on our members’ behalf. We walked away from the session without major new taxes or many difficult employment requirements, and we made improvements to programs important to Oregon businesses.
Communications Director Nathaniel Brown kept our members informed on a sometimes-daily basis, issuing news alerts and press releases that kept all of us up to date on the latest policies and precautions. Kelly Comm, Katie Christensen and Katie Koenig all kept the trains running on time, while our membership team – Nancy Marquay, Patti Winter, Nick Whited and Gary Nash – stayed in touch with all of you, reminding us daily of why we engage in advocacy here in Oregon.
Sandra McDonough, who has served as OBI’s CEO since 2018, is moving into a well-deserved retirement Oct. 1. We appreciate the work she has done on behalf of Oregon business, and we know she is leaving a strong and successful organization ready for the leadership and direction Angela will bring.
This is an exciting moment for OBI. I appreciate the support we get from all of you, our members, and I am thankful for the team of professionals who work on our behalf.