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Leadership | Bringing People Together

State business leaders recognize accomplishments of retiring Kentucky Chamber of Commerce CEO

By LaneReport.com staff

Dave Adkisson testifies at a legislative committee hearing about Right to Work legislation that the General Assembly passed in 2017.

As Kentucky Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Dave Adkisson prepares to retire at the end of October after a successful 14-year run as leader of the statewide business advocacy, The Lane Report reached out to some of the leaders who have worked with him during that period. Here are their reflections on Adkisson’s leadership and impact in his role.

William “Bill” J. Jones

Community Bank Division President

U.S. Bank , Paducah

“Thanks, Dave, for the outstanding leadership you have provided to all businesses across the commonwealth and the role model you have been. You have helped us understand to respect our differences and value the rich diversity our state has to offer. I personally am a better person and leader by having the opportunity to work alongside you on behalf of the Kentucky Chamber and know you are leaving this organization better because of your leadership. Best wishes.”

Kevin Canafax

Midwest Region Vice President of Public Affairs

Fidelity Investments, Covington

“When one reflects upon Kentucky’s greatest assets, its people, natural resources, horses and bourbon immediately come to mind. Another treasured Kentucky asset is Dave Adkisson. Dave, and his lovely wife Bonnie, have served the commonwealth magnanimously as the ‘First Business Couple’ of Kentucky. He, his board of directors and the talented chamber staff have worked closely with business, political, education and organization leaders to tackle the commonwealth’s most daunting issues. It was my great pleasure to work side-by-side with David as chamber chairman for 2015-16. In addition to being a generous, kind and thoughtful leader, Dave’s greatest gift is his ability to bring people together in pursuit of a common goal. Kentucky is a better place because of David Adkisson. God speed to you, Bonnie and your family.”

Wayne Martin

Former General Manager

WKYT-TV, Lexington

“I was fortunate to be a part of the search committee that selected Dave Adkisson as the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president and also serve as its chairman during his first full year. The chamber was at a critical point in time and Dave was the right person at the right time to lead us forward. His vision, insight and initiatives over the years have proven to be most valuable to our business community and our commonwealth overall. Thank you, Dave!”

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Malcolm Bryant, CCIM


Malcolm Bryant Corp., Owensboro

“About once in a lifetime we run across a person who radiates an inner light. They seem deeply good. They listen well and make us feel valued. That’s Dave and his entire family. From Owensboro to Birmingham to our commonwealth, he has embedded a deep sense of curiosity and optimism that has moved each of us and our state forward. We have a limitless gratitude to him and his family for his dedication to our state. And I know in this second “season” of his life we can all dream of what’s next for all of us. Thanks Dave and all of the Kentucky Chamber’s leadership who have supported him.”

Glenn D. Leveridge

Market President/Winchester

Central Bank & Trust Co., Winchester

“Dave most certainly added value to his many contributions to our state, focusing on education, economic development and inclusiveness. He formed many partnerships, performed with operational excellence, made significant investments on behalf of the Kentucky Chamber, demonstrated control of the dialogue and discussions, and most all, provided consistent, quality, professional service to our state membership.”

Charlie Beach III


Peoples Exchange Bank, Winchester

“Dave and I met many years ago through the Kentucky League of Cities while both of us were mayors. I was invited to the grand opening of the amazing RiverPark Center in Owensboro. From his vision for his hometown, a very thriving development has grown around this premier civic landmark. Sparked by the energy Dave provided, Owensboro continues to benefit from his leadership and legacy. With admiration, I have kept up with Dave as he navigated politics, served as president of the Birmingham, Ala., chamber and then was recruited home to Kentucky. Our commonwealth is far richer today from his service to our Kentucky Chamber as president and CEO. Well done, good friend!”

William M. “Bill” Lear Jr.

Chairman emeritus

Stoll Keenon Ogden, Lexington

“Congratulations on your retirement and a job well done! Your enduring legacy is that you have advanced the interests of Kentucky’s businesses, Kentucky’s economy and the people of our state immeasurably. You have made the Kentucky Chamber better, stronger and more effective than ever before in its history. We are all in your debt.”

Woodford Webb


The Webb Cos., Lexington

“Dave is a true champion of Kentucky’s business community. He leaves a tremendous legacy at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, capping off more than a decade of achievement and growth. I am especially appreciative of Dave’s efforts to support the Eastern Kentucky region over the last few years, as well as being so helpful during the year I served as chairman of the board of Commerce Lexington (2009). While his presence will be missed by all who had the privilege of working with him, we wish him nothing but continued success in all his future endeavors.” 

Billy Harper


Harper Industries, Paducah

“It was a cold day in Lexington when Dave was interviewed for the job of Kentucky Chamber chief executive. It was clear by the end of the interview he was the right person for the job. Hiring Dave has proven over time to be one of the best decisions the state chamber has ever made. Dave shows an uncanny ability to effectively work with business, civic and political leaders, reaching across the aisle to accomplish objectives. David excels at making a very difficult job look effortless, even though we all know it took a lot of diligence. David has been an outstanding leader and advocate for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. It has been a pleasure to not only have him as a friend but to admire the leader he has become. He will be greatly missed.”