It was a move that caught many off guard. Exactly a month after the surprise announcement that Matt Yancey was leaving his post as Chamber CEO after barely a year, to take a position with SMUD as their Economic Development Director, the Chamber on Monday announced the completion of the CEO search process and the selection of Christina Blackman to succeed Matt Yancey as Chief Executive Officer.
Ms. Blackman is a life-long resident of Davis with an extensive background of more than 15 years of experience as a marketing and community relations professional.
“For more than a decade, Blackman has been an active member with several chamber of commerce organizations both as a volunteer and board member including serving as chair for two Yolo County chamber of commerce organizations. Blackman previously worked at Yolo Federal Credit Union as their marketing and community relations manager,” the Chamber said in a press release.
They add, “Due to both the vibrancy of the community and the reputation of the chamber as a leading business organization, the chamber received numerous resumes from professionals throughout the region.”
“The chamber follows an arduous selection process that includes relying on the expertise of a respected group of past presidents, stated Jennifer Nitzkowski of Carbahal and Company who serves as the Immediate Past Chair for the Davis Chamber of Commerce. We assure that we follow an unbiased process, focused on fitting the needs of both organization and our members.”
The release goes on to state, “As the Marketing Manager for Yolo Federal Credit Union, Blackman served on various local non-profit boards and committees throughout Yolo County including the United Way, Workforce Investment Board, Cool Davis, Yolo Youth Opportunity Council and others.”
Christina Blackman is currently serving on the Davis Senior High School PTA and the Community Choice Energy Committee. She resides in Davis with her husband Kevin, daughter Elizabeth and son Mason, and has another daughter, Jessica, who resides in the Bay Area.
“Throughout the selection process, Blackman ranked high for each member of the selection committee both for experience and her service to the Davis community. Christina brings with her a strong background and passion for economic and community development and will be instrumental in helping forward our prosperity plan” stated Vice Chair, Tamiko Gaines, HM. CLAUSE.
“I am honored to have been selected as Chief Executive for the Davis Chamber of Commerce,” stated Ms. Blackman who will take over on October 12. “I feel truly fortunate to be given the opportunity to work with such an amazing board and dedicated staff. With such a wonderful and diverse membership and the ongoing support of the City and UC Davis, I am excited to be a part of the chamber’s mission to promote, support and advocate the general economic vitality of its membership and the quality of life for the community.”
Mayor Dan Wolk, in a statement to the Vanguard, said, “We are very fortunate to have an engaged business community and an active Chamber of Commerce. As a lifelong Davis resident, Chris Blackman has a wonderful understanding of our city but she is also bringing with her more than 20 years of experience with a local business. I look forward to her leadership as Chamber CEO especially as we continue to explore the possibilities of innovation centers for Davis.”
Former Chamber CEO Kemble Pope added, “The selection of Christina Blackman as the new CEO of the Davis Chamber of Commerce is great news for both the Chamber’s membership and the entire Davis community. As a long time Board member of this Chamber and the Woodland Chamber, she knows what it takes to be successful in this role. Chris has built trust and support throughout the community for many years and she helped create the Chamber’s 2020 Plan, so I’m confident that she’ll hit the ground running.”
Outgoing CEO Matt Yancey did not immediately respond to the Vanguard’s request for a comment.
In the August 28, 2015 release, however, he said, “If my short time with the Davis Chamber has accomplished anything, I hope that it will be to dispel any misconceptions that Davis does not have a vibrant business community and a commitment to a strong local economy.”
“The warmth and enthusiasm with which I was welcomed by the community, my amazing staff, and the Chamber’s dedicated Board of Directors is a testament to Davis’ commitment to excellence. As exciting as it would be to continue on with the Davis Chamber, this new position aligns with a number of my longer term personal and professional goals. This is not a decision I’ve come to lightly,” said Mr. Yancey.
It was August 10, 2014, that the Chamber was excited to hire Matt Yancey as CEO to place outgoing CEO Kemble Pope. Mr. Yancey arrived with an extensive background in community and economic development, at both local and regional levels. For the past seven years, he had served as the Director of Business and Economic Development for the Sacramento Metro Chamber.
In the past year, according to the press release, “the Davis Chamber has opened the Yolo Hub Office of the Capital Region Small Business Development Center and established a partnership with MANEX to improve services available to local manufacturing companies.”
According to the release, the Chamber has also “ratified a teaming agreement with the regional partnership behind the Next Economy Capital Region Prosperity Plan. And, with funding from Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, the Davis Chamber has supported local groups in developing relationships with national angel investment networks that have contributed to ongoing discussions of establishing a Davis-based angel investment network.”
The changing of the guards comes at a critical moment, as the mayor indicated, with the city exploring the potential of innovation parks that would require voter approval.
—David M. Greenwald reporting