Life Member Awards

Historically called “Honorary Member,” this pinnacle award is bestowed by ACCE on those who retire after stellar careers in chamber leadership. The present “Life Member” name recognizes both the lifetime of success in the chamber profession as well as the member-for-life status granted to each honoree.

Life Member designees are honored during the ACCE annual convention's awards ceremony.

Criteria for Consideration: 

1.  Successful Chamber

    • Shown measurable success in building their communities and organizations

2.  Mentorship

    • Willingly mentored their own staff members and others who sought guidance to grow in the profession

3.  Prominent Role in Leading/Advancing the Profession

    • Made a significant contribution to the profession:  ACCE participation and leadership, U.S. Chamber institutes and programs, State Regional Association Officer, etc.

Factors Influencing Selection:

  • CCE
  • 5-Star Accreditation
  • Chairmanship of state/regional chamber execs’ association
  • ACCE Board Service
  • IOM Board of Governors Service
  • “Seconding” or supporting letters/testimony/recommendations

Requirements & Eligiblity:

The Candidate’s chamber (current employer or chamber to which a retired candidate is most closely affiliated), must be a member in Good Standing of ACCE

  • CEOs
    1. All retired CEOs with 12 or more years of service, who have been out of the profession for at least one year, may be nominated for Life Member consideration, regardless of current employment status. If less than 12 years as CEO, candidate must have been out of the chamber (or related) profession for at least 18 months prior to nomination.
    2. A currently serving CEO of a chamber or chamber-like organization may be nominated for Life Membership if he/she has served 12 or more years as CEO.  Those nominated for life membership while still serving as CEO of a chamber must be approved by the selection committee two consecutive years. 
  • Non-CEOs
    1. Staff members of chambers may be eligible for Life Member nomination following full retirement from the profession after at least 20 years of service.

NOTE:  No more than two currently serving CEOs may receive Life Member designation in the same year.

Nomination Process:

  • A nomination letter that includes appropriate information about the nominee must be submitted prior to the published deadline. In addition to evidence of excellence in regards to the criteria, the nomination must include current contact information for the person being nominated.
  • Late submissions, as well as those nominated in a prior award cycle, will be re-submitted for consideration in the subsequent year(s).  Re-nomination is not required. 
  • Notice of acceptance (winning), rejection (unlikely to receive Life Member status at any time), and tabling (under consideration in the future) will not be provided to nominators prior to the announcement of Life Member awards. For this reason, it is recommended that nominators do not alert candidates at the time of nomination.
  • Life Member designees and the primary nominating party will be notified at least six weeks prior to the date of the awards ceremony.


2014 Life Members Announced!

James B. Anderson, CCE

Jim Anderson is president of the 2012 Chamber of the Year award-winning Springfield, Mo., Area Chamber of Commerce. After leading the chamber for 26 years, he will retire this summer. Before joining the Springfield Chamber, he served nine years as president of the Jefferson City Area, Mo., Chamber of Commerce. 

Anderson has been a visible and active figure not only in Springfield, but also statewide. In 2001, Gov. Bob Holden appointed Anderson to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. Among his duties was serving as a member and past chairman of the Missouri Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol Employees’ Retirement System. Anderson was appointed by Gov. Mel Carnahan to the Missouri Business Council in 1993 and to the Total Transportation Commission in 1996. In 2007, Anderson began a one-year term as chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, and then the following year he served a one-year term as Commission’s vice chairman. 

Anderson has been a committed volunteer in the chamber world, serving as chairman of ACCE from 1994-95, and is a past president (1982-83) of the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Missouri (CCEM). He is also served on the board of trustees of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management, and was past chairman of the board of regents of the Southern Methodist University Institute for Organization Management. 

Over the years, Anderson has earned many honors, including ACCE’s Chairman’s Award in 1992, the Top Level Award in 1989 from CCEM. In 2005, he was honored with both the Springfieldian Award and the Missourian Award, and in 2013, he received the Career Service in Economic Development Award at the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development.

Anderson is a 1971 graduate of Missouri State University.  He is also a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. In 2002, Drury University awarded him the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. The year before, he was named by Missouri State University as one of three “Outstanding Alumni.”  


Richard G. Hadley, CCE

Rich Hadley is president emeritus of Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), the region’s chamber of commerce and economic development council, after having served as the president and CEO for 21 years.

His first foray into the chamber world was as assistant manager of the chamber in Fergus Falls, Minn., from 1975-77.  From there, he served as CEO of chambers in Kalispell, Mont. (1977-80); Boulder, Colo. (1980-86), and Saint Paul, Minn. (1986-93).

Rich’s 39 years in the profession left indelible marks in each organization he served. At the Fergus Falls Chamber, he brought five independent resort associations into one successful resort association. At the Kalispell Chamber, he led the drive for a new airport. In Boulder, he developed the Boulder County Economic Development Council. During his tenure at the St. Paul Chamber, he developed a nationally recognized education partnership with local school districts and minority organizations.

Under his leadership, the Spokane Chamber built a regional public policy and advocacy program, and integrated the chamber and economic development council, leading to the formation of Greater Spokane Incorporated in 2007. The chamber defended Fairchild Air Force Base through two Base Realignment & Closure processes, and led the 10-year drive to establish a medical school in Spokane.

Rich’s other professional and community roles include past chair of the Chamber of Commerce Executive Associations in Montana, Colorado, Minnesota and Washington. He was chairman of the Institute of Organizational Management of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and of ACCE (2001). He currently serves on the boards of the Association of Washington Business, University District Development Association, Priority Spokane, Spokane STEM, and the Washington Aerospace Partnership.

Rich is a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in public administration and international affairs. He completed Naval Flight School and served as a Naval Air Intelligence Officer during the Vietnam War. At the end of the war, he was one of only a few intelligence officers to debrief the Navy pilots who had been imprisoned for seven years in the “Hanoi Hilton.”


Paul H. Harvel, CCE

Paul Harvel began his chamber career in 1967, when he joined the staff of the Little Rock (Ark.) Regional Chamber of Commerce, working in economic development and special projects.  He was instrumental in the development of Pinnacle Mountain State Park, located near the Little Rock city limits. He also visualized and led the effort to create Pulaski County Technical College, which now has an enrollment of 12,000, four regional locations and a new culinary school.

After six years at the Little Rock Chamber, he accepted his first CEO position in El Dorado, Ark., followed by the Enid, Okla., Midland and Amarillo, Texas chambers. Then he returned to Little Rock in 1985 to head the chamber that first hired him.

The Little Rock Chamber’s total assets rose from $70,000 to over $10 million during his 21-year tenure. He conceptualized and built the Little Rock Regional Chamber’s new home and economic development center.  The $8.5 million building was completed in 2001 and paid for in 3-1/2 years.  It stands today as one of the nation’s premier chamber and marketing facilities.

Harvel succeeded as both a team player and leader, as exhibited in his role during a 15-year effort developing the Riverfront in Little Rock with a new convention center, multi-purpose arena and the Clinton Presidential Library. Over the period, $2 billion in private and public projects established a major area for economic development and visitors’ attractions.

Leadership programs were a large part of his chamber career, starting Leadership Enid, Leadership Little Rock in 1985, one of the first programs in the state, and Leadership Arkansas in 2006.

Following the Little Rock Chamber, Harvel became president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber where he started Leadership Arkansas and in two years saw total income rise from $800,000 to $1.8 million; membership grew from 650 to 1,400.

Harvel closed his chamber career in 2013 at the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, after 47 years of management and 51 different chairmen.  Throughout his career he has been an active member of ACCE, served on the board three different times, and gives credit to ACCE for his professional development.  He currently works for Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross.

Harvel often quips that he got more out of the U.S. Chamber than any other chamber executive when he married Barbara 34 years ago when she was running the U.S. Chamber Institute program.

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