FORT MITCHELL, Ky. -- Steve Stevens will resign as president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce after leading the organization for the last eight years.
In an interview with WCPO, Stevens, 52, said it was the right time to take on a new challenge.
“I have 20 years under my belt now at the chamber, our kids are no longer home, so this is a good time in my career and life personally,” he said.
As a nine-time marathon finisher, he compares his departure to running. “For most long distance runners, the moment of truth typically comes around the 20-mile mark when we runners say to ourselves one of two things: ‘I have it in me to finish this race’ or ‘What was I thinking?’ After 20 years at the Chamber, I realize now is time to catch my second wind and pursue other professional endeavors I have considered, so I can look back and smile when I cross the finish line at the end of my professional life.”
The thought of leaving the chamber started about a year ago, he said, when he and his wife, who has a home business as a consultant, became empty-nesters as their youngest son went off to college.
"You have to keep up the drive, the energy and enthusiasm," he said of finding a new chapter and adventure in his professional life.
Stevens, who worked for the chamber as vice president of public affairs and senior vice president of the chamber for a combined 12 years, does not have another position lined up but is considering his options both within Greater Cincinnati and at chambers outside the region.
“If you have a chamber career and you really love the business you’re in – and I do – the next chamber job wouldn’t be here. Outside of chamber work, I definitely do have some options,” he said.
Pending other options, including moving out of the region for another chamber position, he plans to remain at the chamber until his 20-year anniversary in February. He said he figures he has at least another 15 years in his working life to contribute his skills.
A native of Cold Spring, Stevens has lived in Taylor Mill for more than 20 years and has lived in Boone County as well, completing the trifecta of living in all three principal Northern Kentucky counties.
“The biggest difficulty in leaving is that I’m a native. For me to have been at the chamber in my hometown for 20 years, that’s special for me. My family has been in Northern Kentucky for 147 years,” dating back to 19th Century farmers in Alexandria.
Stevens said a search committee will begin work in November to find his successor, a process that he expects will take several months to complete.
He spoke en route to watch his son compete in diving at Virginia Tech. “My son dives off a 33-foot platform, and that’s how I kind of feel right now,” Stevens said. “It’s a big leap, but it’s the right time.”
Whatever his next splash is, he will always consider Northern Kentucky home.
“I’ve truly appreciated the opportunity to serve the Northern Kentucky Chamber along with so many terrific leaders, volunteers and staff members,” Stevens said. “This job has been so rewarding for me and has given me a tremendous sense of pride to be working on behalf of such a strong business community.”
His advice to the region's business and government leaders is not to abandon what Northern Kentucky represents: "collaboration and cooperation." Three counties all working together for economic development for the entire region's benefit is what makes Northern Kentucky "unique and special," he said.
While the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's president position is vacant, Stevens said he has not interviewed nor thought about moving across the river.
Regional accomplishments Stevens was a part of during his 20-year tenure:
- The Northern Convention Center
- The Northern Kentucky Juvenile Detention Center
- The Northern Kentucky University Natural Sciences Building
- Gateway Community Technical College’s Boone County campus
- Road projects including KY 536, 12th Street in Covington, Taylor Mill Road and Mt. Zion Road