Academy Testimonials

Our existing Academy students are "the best" salespeople for the program. Here is what a few of them had to say about their Academy "experience."

"In my opinion, Academy was the single most important investment that I've made in myself - personally or professionally.  It is rare to enter into something that fosters, encourages and forces you to grow in knowledge, contacts and confidence.  Academy was that and more for me.  On Day one of my first year I was told, 'The people in this room, your peers, can help you keep and/or land your next job in the chamber world'.  Those words always stuck with me.  Now, as an Academy graduate, I can say they were 100% true.  The experiences, best practices and advice are tremendous, the lifelong relationships -   priceless.  So, would I recommend Academy to anyone else? Only if they care about elevating their career, relationships and community."

Colin Diaz, President & CEO
Culver City (CA) Chamber of Commerce


“To be successful in the Chamber business, you must be well versed in all aspects of the Chamber world. W.A.C.E. Academy provides the resources to not only learn from the best there is in our industry but to also develop a network of peers that can act as a support system and knowledge base for you in your expanding Chamber career.  It was remarkable how quickly you develop this fabric of allies. I left with 50 new friends that can share this journey with me, bounce ideas off of, and truly understand the joys, challenges, and laughs involved with Chamber work on a daily basis.”

Candace Carnahan,
Events & Program Manager
Grand Junction Area (CO) Chamber of Commerce


“I began the Academy program in the summer of 2015 as the Director of Business Advocacy at the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce. Our former CEO, Dave Hauser, encouraged me to attend because “it was the best way to learn everything I needed to know about running a Chamber, just in case that’s what I wanted to do some day.” Little did either of us know, I would be leaning on the training and friendships I’d gained from the Academy as soon as I have. In June of 2017 Dave lost his battle with cancer and I found myself in the interim CEO position. Without Dave’s mentorship and the information and resources I had access to through the W.A.C.E. Academy and staff, I would have never had the confidence to apply for and receive the permanent CEO position. The material is relevant, the conversations are thought provoking, and the network of industry experts is invaluable. Whether you are currently leading a Chamber or plan to continue working in this amazing field, I strongly encourage you to invest in yourself and your staff and participate in the next W.A.C.E. Academy.”

 Brittany Quick-Warner,
President & CEO
Eugene Area (OR) Chamber of Commerce

“As a young, staff professional in the chamber industry, the first year of the W.A.C.E. Academy helped me better understand the groundwork that I needed to know when I was looking to “move up” in my career. I am thrilled to take that knowledge into my new role as President & CEO of the Atascadero (CA) Chamber and already have year two of the Academy on my calendar!”

Derek Kirk, President & CEO
Atascadero (CA) Chamber of Commerce



"I wasn’t sure what to expect from W.A.C.E. Academy. Instantly at the welcome reception I knew I was thrilled to be part of the class. I was thankful to be given the opportunity to learn and meet other Chamber leaders, learn from their best practices and collect all the great ideas from different offices. One of my goals is to find out what other Chambers do well.  I want to improve what we do in our Lodi Chamber if possible. For the three days of Academy I learned how to embrace the changes, new developments like the new branding information, how to dispel myths, it has taught me already what is vital and essential in marketing our chamber to the community and attracting new members. Attending Academy is something I whole-heartedly recommend."

Marina Narvarte,
Director of Membership
Lodi District (CA) Chamber of Commerce


"Academy not only keeps Chamber execs on the cutting edge so we refrain from remaining our “our grandfather’s chamber” but has also provided significant resources and connections of lasting relevance."  
Jamie Christman,
EVP Community Affairs
Bend (OR) Chamber of Commerce

 "Beyond the important in-class information gained from instructors, I found Academy classroom discussions and ultimately the network I built there to provide benefits that lasted well beyond the three days spent in class.  Each year that resource further developed into one of the most important tools in my success.  I’d recommend Academy to the Chamber professional who cares about the quality of their work and is striving to bring the best their community."

Gail Zurek, ACE, President & CEO
Visalia (CA) Chamber of Commerce
 "Academy is a great way to brush up on best practices, learn new ways to provide value to members and meet colleagues, many of whom have become friends.  I’ve already put several learnings into place, and I’m looking forward to Year 2!"

Scott Smith, President & CEO
Cerritos (CA) Chamber of Commerce

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