Category Archives: Chamber News

Chamber CEO: Support small businesses and #ShopABY


From the desk of the Chamber CEO

Supporting Small Businesses: The Backbone of Our Economy

In the tapestry of our communities, small businesses are the vibrant threads that weave together the entrepreneurial spirit and economic vitality. As noted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), these enterprises are not just mere contributors; they are the driving force behind job creation and economic activity in the United States, accounting for two-thirds of new job opportunities. This week we’ve been celebrating National Small Business Week, focusing a spotlight on the contributions of our small businesses and how local consumers can support these commercial neighbors.

For 114 years, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce has helped businesses connect, build, influence and lead. We support businesses of all sizes and are proud to champion our small businesses, who comprise a strong percentage of our membership. Small businesses are the cornerstone of economic activity locally and nationally, generating a remarkable 44 percent of U.S. economic output. Their significance extends beyond mere numbers; they cultivate consumer spending, fostering local prosperity and enhancing market competitiveness. Through their presence, small businesses catalyze innovation, fueling growth and progress across diverse sectors.

From the general stores of yesteryears to the burgeoning tech startups of today, small businesses have been intrinsic to the nation’s narrative of growth and innovation. Their resilience amidst economic adversities echoes the indomitable spirit of American entrepreneurship, propelling us forward through tumultuous times and driving sustained progress.

Supporting small businesses transcends economic rationale; it embodies an investment in the soul of our communities. Patronizing local establishments is more than a transaction; it’s a pledge to uphold the fabric of our neighborhoods, preserving their unique identity and fostering a sense of belonging.

Here are some ways our community can support the small businesses that every day support our community:

  1. #ShopABY: Embrace the ethos of locality by prioritizing purchases from neighborhood stores and establishments. By doing so, you not only bolster the local economy but also forge meaningful connections within the community. Visit for the region’s most comprehensive list of local.
  2. Spread the Word: Harness the power of word-of-mouth recommendations to amplify the reach of small businesses. Share your positive experiences with others, igniting a ripple effect of support and patronage.
  3. Engage Online: Leverage social media platforms to bolster the online presence of small businesses. From leaving glowing reviews to actively engaging with their content, your digital footprint can significantly enhance their visibility and customer base.
  4. Attend Events: Participate in local events and gatherings where small businesses showcase their offerings. Your presence not only provides direct support but also fosters a sense of camaraderie and community spirit.
  5. Offer Feedback: Constructive feedback serves as a cornerstone for improvement and growth. By voicing your experiences and suggestions, you empower small businesses to adapt and evolve, ensuring their long-term success.

National Small Business Week acknowledges the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners, and recognizes their hard work, ingenuity and dedication, including their contributions to the economy. But a week is hardly adequate. As citizens of Albany and the Albany Area, it’s our responsibility to support our local, small businesses every single day. Next time you’re making an online purchase or headed to the national retailer, pause and consider if you could #ShopABY and spend those same dollars locally; studies show that out of every $100 dollars spent locally, $68 is recirculated within our local economy. Our small business environment, while strong, would thrive with this level of intention and investment from our consumers.

Supporting small businesses transcends economic transactions; it embodies a commitment to nurturing the fabric of our community. By championing the endeavors of local entrepreneurs and fostering an environment of solidarity, we pave the way for a more prosperous and resilient future for all.

Bárbara Rivera Holmes is president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, which for 114 years has helped businesses connect, built, influence and lead, and which is leading a multi-year strategy to advance economic opportunities and a thriving community. Learn more at



Albany Area Chamber Celebrates 114 years

Jay Houston 

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce 









Albany Area Chamber Celebrates 114 Years 


Albany, Ga. — The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s 114th annual meeting brought together esteemed community and business leaders for an evening of celebration, recognition, and strategic visioning Thursday on the Bricks at Thronateeska Heritage Center in downtown Albany. 


Against the backdrop of downtown’s historic herringbone brick streets, a golden sunset lit up the event, presented by the city of Albany and The X for Boys, 2023 Board Chairman Perry Revell, CEO of AB&T, transferred the role to financial advisor Jeretha Peters, the 2024 chair of the Chamber’s board of directors. The organization also laid out its new strategic focus, sharing with shareholders how the Chamber will continue moving forward in the coming years through its #ImpactABY2026 initiative. 


“Serving as the chair of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is an honor, and I’m humbled to have been in this capacity twice. With purpose, our Chamber serves to champion the collective interests of our members and foster a thriving environment for business and community growth,” said Revell, who served as chairman in 2020. “In 2023, we upheld and propelled this purpose forward through our #ImpactABY initiative. Emphasizing substance over appearance and practicality over form, we’ve remained future-focused, confronting challenges and envisioning the future with a spirit of service, hard work and leadership. #ImpactABY2026 is a pivotal plan, the culmination of our Chamber’s focus, and its execution is essential for our lasting impact. Together, we are sculpting the future of our region.” 


“I am honored to lead the Chamber into the next chapter of growth and prosperity,” said Peters. “With the support of our dedicated members and community partners, I am confident that we will continue to make a positive impact in the Albany Area. 


“The event recognized two outstanding community servants: Cindy Wisham of the United Way of Southwest Georgia was named the Chamber’s 2023 Ambassador of the Year for her demonstration of exceptional commitment to promoting Chamber initiatives and embodying the spirit of community engagement; and the late Dr. Anthony Parker, long-time president of Albany Technical College, was posthumously awarded the Chamber’s Lifetime Service Award.

“Dr. Parker’s commitment to empowering individuals through education reflected a genuine passion for nurturing talent and fostering success, and his visionary leadership and unwavering advocacy have fostered meaningful collaborations with local businesses, highlighting the interconnectedness of education, personal growth, and economic prosperity,” said Peters. “His legacy of generosity, innovation, and unwavering dedication will continue to inspire generations to come.” 


Throughout the evening, Albany Area Chamber President & CEO Bárbara Rivera Holmes highlighted the Chamber’s achievements and unveiled the ambitious goals outlined in the organization’s #ImpactABY2026 initiative. She underscored the Chamber’s commitment to excellence by listening to its members and aligning purpose and pursuits into a future-focused vision.  


“For 114 years, the Albany Area Chamber has helped businesses connect, build, influence and lead through programming, resources, access and advocacy. At the core of what we do is build a thriving community,” Holmes said. “From working with decision makers to inform smart policy, to working with employers and educators to build a modern and adaptive work force to solving businesses’ biggest challenges – what we do designs the path and builds a community in which people want to live and businesses want to invest.” 


Holmes shared examples of the Chamber’ significant achievements of the Chamber its recently-culminated strategic plan, #ImpactABY2023. These accomplishments included the introduction of a new tiered benefits investment model aligning member benefits with business goals; establishment of the Albany Area Political Leadership Institute to cultivate future public servants; redirection of the Albany Area Chamber Foundation towards talent and innovation; revitalization of Chamber programs such as Propel, Political Leadership, Ambassadors, and the annual meeting for enhanced value and impact; statewide expansion of the Chamber’s renowned Biz magazine and the launch of The Ray, a distinctive field guide to Albany; adoption of a technology strategy for digital transformation; and proactive leadership in talent development and impactful advocacy, among others. 

In its new strategic plan, #ImpactABY2026, the Chamber outlines a comprehensive approach focusing on three core pillars: Talent, Economy and Community. These pillars are supported by strategic divisions, each with its own set of initiatives aimed at making a significant impact across various sectors.   


“The Albany Area Chamber leads with competency and character, delivering results that drive business, community and regional success,” Holmes said. “#ImpactABY2026 represents our commitment to inclusive, visionary and bold leadership that empowers businesses and the community to thrive.” 


The Government Affairs Committee remains dedicated to advocating for pro-business policies and fostering job creation by collaborating closely with governmental partners. Initiatives including the Albany Area Political Leadership Institute are instrumental in cultivating a pipeline of informed public servants.  


Meanwhile, the Investor Engagement Committee plays a vital role in strengthening the bonds within the business community, facilitating networking opportunities, and recognizing members’ contributions through various platforms.  


The Military Affairs Committee continues to champion the interests of military personnel and their families, offering unwavering support to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and advocating for critical Congressional appropriations.  


The Talent Catalysts Committee is committed to building a robust workforce pipeline by forging connections between employers, educators, and students. Initiatives such as Albany’s new Chamber-affiliated young professionals organization underscore the Chamber’s dedication to nurturing the next generation of talent.  


Furthermore, the Albany Area Chamber Foundation, under the leadership of Board Chairman Matt Reed, serves houses programs including the Albany Innovation Roundtable, the Albany-Dougherty Talent Strategy 2.0, the FLEX ABY youth entrepreneurship program, Propel+, and Thrive, each designed to address specific and diverse workforce needs and drive community development. 

Looking ahead, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is poised to build upon its strategic accomplishments, focusing on talent development, impactful advocacy, and fostering a thriving community and economy in the Albany Area. 

The “Golden Hour” event featured a taste of Albany with a diverse array of food vendors Sonny’s BBQ, Sugar Mama’s, Southern Elegance Catering, La Luna Cantina, The Catch, and Newk’s Eatery – who provided delicious culinary delights for attendees to enjoy throughout the evening.  


The 114th annual meeting was sponsored by WebstaurantStore, Invision Technologies, Albany Area Primary Healthcare, Molson Coors, Flint River Entertainment Complex, Albany Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Next Era Energy, Flint Ag & Turf, Concrete Enterprises, Mitchell EMC, Pellicano Construction Co., Still Pond Vineyard & Winery, the Artesian Alliance and Marks Greenhouses Nursey & Landscape. These sponsors demonstrate their unwavering support for the Chamber’s mission of fostering economic prosperity and community vitality in the Albany Area. 



About Albany Area Chamber of Commerce 

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance business success and economic opportunities in Albany and the surrounding region. Learn more at 




Albany Area Chamber Concludes Successful 2024 DC Fly In

Jay Houston

(229) 434-8700

April 19, 2024 




A delegation of nearly 40 business and community leaders represented Albany and Dougherty County in the nation’s capital as part of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s signature federal legislative program, the Washington, D.C., Fly In.


Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Concludes Successful 2024 DC Fly In


Albany – A delegation of nearly 40 business and community leaders represented Albany and Dougherty County in the nation’s capital as part of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce’s signature federal legislative program, the Washington, D.C., Fly In, April 16-17. The two-day, policy-intensive event advances the interests of Albany and Southwest Georgia on the national stage and includes meetings with the Albany Area Congressional Delegation and U.S. Marine Corps leadership.

The 2024 program marked the event’s 20th anniversary and its largest delegation, supported by local leaders including Albany Area Chamber Chair Jeretha Peters, Albany Mayor Bo Dorough and Dougherty County Commission Chairman Lorenzo Heard. Col. Matthew McKinney, commanding offer of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLBA), and Maj. Gen. Keith Reventlow, commanding general of Albany-based Headquarters Marine Corps Logistics Command, participated in the strategic discussions with key decision-makers.

“Engagement with federal policymakers via the Albany Area Chamber’s DC Fly In underscores our commitment to advocating for the needs of Albany and the Albany Area and driving sustainable development for the region,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, the region’s leading business advocacy organization. “We are committed to ensuring that Albany’s priorities are heard loud and clear in the corridors of power and that our federal relationships yield investments and advancements for Albany and Southwest Georgia.”

The itinerary was packed with policy briefings, receptions and meetings, highlighting the significance of Albany’s presence in the nation’s capital. Notable events included briefings with senior level policy advisors from U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the Albany Federal Reception with representatives from the local and Congressional delegations and Pentagon-based Marine Corps leadership;  and meetings on Capitol Hill with Congressmen Sanford Bishop and Austin Scott, and U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff.

“The DC Fly In is a cornerstone of our community’s federal advocacy efforts,” said Dougherty County Chairman Lorenzo Heard, emphasizing the importance of the delegation’s united efforts in advancing Southwest Georgia’s interests. “By working together and articulating our priorities directly to federal leaders, we are paving the way for a brighter future for Albany and the surrounding communities.”

As a Military Community of Excellence, the Albany leaders’ discussions at the Pentagon with Marine Corps’ brass reinforces the community’s commitment to supporting installation readiness and resiliency and quality of life for the Albany Area’s military families and veterans. The Pentagon meeting fosters national-level relationships and strategic action between Marines, the Albany Area Chamber and the community in supporting the warfighter and the objectives of the Corps’ Force Design and Climate Action strategies. Those plans, along with Installation & Logistics 2030, define the forward action of the Marine Corps to advance its readiness and resiliency amid contested global logistics.

“We are partners, allies and comrades,” said Holmes of the Chamber, Albany and the United States Marine Corps. “We are proud of the local partnerships that play a role in the increasing innovation and relevance of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and Marine Corps Logistics Command. What we do in Albany directly supports national defense.”

As part of its defense advocacy strategy, the Chamber supports more than $150 million in mission-critical, Congressionally-directed investments at the installation to advance 5G-enabled smart logistics and data-centric processes and manufacturing efficiencies. As the nerve center of Marine Corps logistics and the DOD’s energy security initiative, Marine Corps Logistics Command ad MCLBA, respectively, play a critical role in ensuring that the nation’s expeditionary force is ready.

“The opportunity to directly engage with federal leaders and advocate for the needs of our community is invaluable,” said Albany Mayor Bo Dorough.

The local delegation will conduct post-event meetings to discuss actionable next steps for addressing community items. The Chamber-led meeting aims to further engage stakeholders in the ongoing advocacy efforts and ensure that the momentum generated during the Fly In translates into tangible benefits for Albany and Southwest Georgia.

The Chamber’s 2024 government affairs program is supported by the city of Albany, Dougherty County, Phoebe Putney Health System, AB&T, the Dougherty County School System, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, McLendon Acres, Albany Area Primary Health Care, the Commodore Conyers College and Career Academy, Albany State University, Albany Technical College, Molson Coors, OmniTrax, the Albany Museum of Art, Turner Job Corps, Horizons Community Solution, LRA Constructors, AT&T, Georgia CEO and Adams Exterminators.

The Albany Area Chamber is represented in Washington, D.C., by Cornerstone Government Affairs.


About Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance business success and economic opportunities in Albany and the surrounding region. Learn more at

March 19, 2024 Business After Hours

MIX IT UP at our next month’s Business After Hours event!

Join us for an exciting evening at Pro Outdoors on March 19 from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM! Pro Outdoors is located at 2719 Phillips Drive, Albany.

Whether you’re a Chamber member or not, Business After Hours welcomes everyone to enjoy the festivities for FREE. Feel free to bring a friend or a colleague along to share in the fun.

Registration is not required, but is requested. Register at

Albany hosts 35th annual Georgia Quail Hunt



February 8, 2024


Jay Houston

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce




Georgia Chamber hosts business prospects for 35th annual

‘Georgia Quail Hunt’ in Albany


Albany, Ga. – This week, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Georgia Quail Hunt in Albany, as business leaders representing state recruitment and expansion prospects joined local and state economic developers and officials, including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, to learn about the competitive advantages of doing business in Georgia.

Celebrating its 35th year, the Georgia Quail Hunt stands as the foremost economic development recruitment event in the state. Since 1994, business participants in the Georgia Quail Hunt have contributed billions of dollars to the state’s economy and generated more than 10,000 jobs through corporate establishments or expansions.

“Georgia has solidified its position as the leading state for business, and this occasion provides us with a platform to highlight Georgia’s people and its business-friendly atmosphere,” said Daryl Ingram, the 2024 Georgia Quail Hunt Chairman and Chief External Officer/Senior Vice President of Electric Cities of Georgia. “The economic prosperity we’ve achieved is largely the result of a synergistic partnership between public and private entities, joining forces to create opportunities for thriving businesses and, in turn, fostering prosperous communities. This event exemplifies the collaborative spirit that businesses can anticipate when choosing to establish or expand their operations in Georgia.”

The Albany Area is recognized as one of the world’s premiere destinations for quail hunting, with the industry producing an estimated annual economic impact of more than $145 million. The ongoing recruitment event this week utilizes diverse hunting preserves across Southwest Georgia, centered in Albany. Industry locations in Albany-Dougherty County facilitated through the hunt include Outdoor Network, PowerSports Plus and WebstaurantStore.

“Through the Georgia Quail Hunt we have the opportunity to host business prospects and key decision-makers for a three-day period. This allows them to personally witness the exceptional quality of life and the abundant business prospects available in Albany and Southwest Georgia,” said Jana Dyke, the president and CEO of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission. “The event offers distinctive chances for fostering relationships, a crucial element in the successful project recruitment observed throughout the hunt’s 35-year history.”

Georgia’s strengths in site location encompass a favorable tax environment, a skilled talent pool with accessible training and a robust transportation infrastructure. These attributes, among others, have earned Georgia the prestigious title of the “No. 1 state for business” for an unprecedented 10 consecutive years, as acknowledged by Area Development magazine.

Event organizers say the hunt has been successful in promoting these assets and recruiting businesses to the state.

“For more than 30 years, the Georgia Quail Hunt has helped facilitate the creation of thousands of jobs and billions in investment in Georgia’s economy,” said Chris Clark, president & CEO of the Georgia Chamber. “Hosting the event in Albany provides an incredible opportunity to showcase Southwest Georgia as a premier destination for business, giving guests a first-hand look at the region’s high quality of life and exposing them to local and state leaders who are eager to help them take their business tto the next level. I would like to personally thank the Locate South Georgia, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and all the local volunteers for the incredible partnership and hospitality.”

The Georgia Quail Hunt is sponsored by the Georgia Allies, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Locate South Georgia, along with corporate sponsors Bergara, BPI Outdoors, Glock, Kia Georgia, Molson Coors, PowerSports Plus, Remington Firearms, Taurus Holdings and Trulock Choke Tubes.


About the Georgia Chamber of Commerce

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce is the state’s largest business advocacy organization that focuses on state and federal issues. The Chamber has worked to keep, grow and create jobs to make Georgia a better state for business. The advocacy, policy and thought leadership help ensure Georgia’s economic competitiveness, attract new investments as well as promote growth and prosperity for all businesses.

Chamber’s Albany-Dougherty Day 2024 celebrates community, leadership, partnerships


A delegation of community leaders along with Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp celebrated Albany-Dougherty Day at the Capitol on January 29-30. Albany-Dougherty Day is the Albany Area Chamber’s signature state legislative event.


January 29-30, 2024

Albany-Dougherty Day 2024: Celebrating Community Leadership, Unity, and Legislative Engagement

Atlanta — Albany-Dougherty Day 2024, hosted in Atlanta Monday and Tuesday by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, culminated as a resounding success, showcasing the collective strength and unity of the Albany community. This signature state legislative event drew a local delegation of nearly 50 private, public and elected partners for a  two-day event program that includes a legislative reception and meetings with legislators at the Georgia State Capitol.

“The success of Albany-Dougherty Day 2024 is a testament to the collaborative spirit and dedication of our community, and to our persistence in ensuring we are seen and heard at the Georgia State Capitol,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. “This annual event highlights the importance of engaging with our elected officials, reinforces the strength of our local and state partnerships and reflects Albany’s position as a key economic hub supporting Georgia’s unmatched competitiveness.”

The public-private collaboration was underscored by participation from Albany Mayor Bo Dorough, Dougherty County Commission Chairman Lorenzo Heard, Albany Area Chamber Chair Jeretha Peters and members of their respective bodies. Sen. Freddie Powell Sims and Reps. Gerald Geene, Bill Yearta, Mike Cheokas – members of the Albany Area state legislative delegation – participated in the programs, as did leadership from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.

The program commenced Monday with the Albany-Dougherty Day Legislative Reception at the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, home of the Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals. The center’s second-floor terrace, which overlooks Georgia’s Gold Dome, played host to a sunset reception during which local participants mingled with esteemed guests including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp; Lt. Gov. Burt Jones; Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr; Commissioner John King of the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and Fire Safety; Commissioner Tyler Harper of the Georgia Department of Agriculture; Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger; and Judge Ken Hodges of the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The attendance of the state’s highest-ranking elected officials and additional leadership from the House of Representatives, Georgia Senate, state agencies and the judiciary emphasized Albany’s role as a key fixture in the state’s political and economic landscape.

“Ensuring our state officials are aware of the policy positions of the Albany Area Chamber and how they impact our member organizations and the region’s economic competitiveness is a core function of the Chamber’s advocacy program,” said Bridges Sinyard, vice president of Adams Exterminators and chair of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Division. “Equally important is building and strengthening our relationships with state leadership. Albany-Dougherty Day is a conduit for that.”

Tuesday’s legislative program in the Capitol was marked by a series of engaging discussions with agency leadership and elected officials, providing valuable insights into what’s ahead during the 2024 legislative session. The sessions laid the groundwork for participants to engage in a unique experience with Georgia decision makers playing roles in the issues that matter most to the Chamber and the delegation, including smart fiscal policy, education and talent, defense and military, economic development and health care.

Participants had the opportunity to hear from House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration; Sen. Chuck Payne, chairman of the Senate’s committee on veterans, military and homeland security; Chairman Matt Bonner from the House’s committee on defense and veterans; Commissioner Greg Dozier of the Technical College System of Georgia; and Kristi Birgman, deputy commissioner for global commerce with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

The mid-morning session included a commendation presentation with Kemp and a floor visit to the Georgia Senate, from whose well Holmes brought remarks on behalf of the community and addressed the senatorial body.

The scheduled events of the day came to a close with a “State of Health Policy” panel composed of Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Russel Carlson, Deputy Commissioner Grant Thomas and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dean Burke; Chairman Butch Parrish of the House Special Committee on Healthcare; Chairman Ben Watson of the Senate Health Committee; Caylee Noggle, CEO of the Georgia Hospital Association (GH.A); Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Scott Steiner, chair-elect of GHA.

Amidst the various sessions, Albany-Dougherty leaders actively advocated for legislative priorities crucial to the region’s growth. Notably, discussions emphasized the need for increased state funding to support local initiatives including the establishment of a VECTR (Veterans Education Career Transition Resource) center at Albany Technical College. The proposed $17.4 million center aims to enhance veteran employment opportunities in the area, aligning with broader local and state efforts to support and empower active military, veterans and military families. VECTR Albany is a key priority of Albany Technical College and the Albany Area Chamber.

The Chamber’s government affairs program is sponsored by AB&T, Phoebe Putney Health System, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, the City of Albany, Dougherty County, Dougherty County School System, Albany Area Primary Healthcare, Albany State University, Albany Technical College, Mclendon Acres, OmniTRAX Industrial Development, AT&T, Horizon Community Solutions, LRA Constructors, Molson Coors, Adams Exterminators and Georgia CEO.  Representatives from sponsoring organizations participated in the program.


About the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

The Albany Area Chamber, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance business success and economic opportunities in Albany and the Albany Area. Learn more at

2023-2024 Political Leadership Institute

 ALBANY, GA – January 23, 2024 – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the 2023-2024 Albany Area Political Leadership Institute (PLI), a nonpartisan program dedicated to preparing participants for leadership roles on local boards and in elected office. 

The program, now in its second year, welcomed a diverse group of participants who completed a rigorous application process and were hand-selected for their commitment to public service and community engagement. The program’s January 17 graduation ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of the 2023-2024 PLI cohort, consisting of individuals from throughout Albany and the surrounding area. Participants included Renea Miller, Christopher Harvey, Tameeka Daniels, Martez Favis, Dr. Jennifer Williams, Angela Michele Patterson, Kenyetta Simons, Caleb Clugston, and George Houston. 

PLI’s goal is simple and local: To build well-equipped candidates for elected office and appointed boards. Throughout the three-session program, held from November 2023 to January 2024, participants delved into essential topics such as “Government 101,” “Issues of Importance,” and “Appointed Boards and Elected Office.” The curriculum, developed by business leaders in Albany, aims to equip participants with foundational knowledge and skills needed for effective public service leadership. Each program session was followed by networking opportunities with community and business leaders, connecting class participants to those serving the community in a variety of ways. 

Graduates of the 2022-2023 program successfully obtained local appointments, and 2023-2024 graduates are well on their way to expand their public service. 

“Participating in the 2023-2024 Political Leadership Institute has been an enlightening journey for me,” said class participant George Houston, organizational development coach at Phoebe 

Putney Memorial Hospital, president of the Lee County Exchange Club and member of the Board of Elections and Registrations for Lee County. “I entered the program with a commitment to community service. Through this experience, I gained wonderful insights into the intricacies of local governance. The program’s comprehensive curriculum and networking opportunities have left me feeling even more encouraged that normal individuals can indeed make a significant difference in shaping the future of the Albany Area. I am grateful for this empowering experience and look forward to applying what I’ve learned in my continued service to the community.” 

Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, expressed the chamber’s commitment to developing local talent for public service leadership. 

“The Political Leadership Institute serves as an innovative platform to nurture public servants and political newcomers, providing them with essential insights into issues and expectations as they consider elected office candidacy or public board positions,” she said. “The Albany Area Chamber aims to engage more people in public service, to prepare business-minded leaders who have an interest in exploring leadership opportunities on appointed boards or elected office, and to help them discover how their experience, skills and talent could address critical policy issues.” 

Bridges Sinyard, vice president of Adams Exterminators and chairman of the Albany Area Chamber’s Government Affairs Division, emphasized the program’s impact on bridging the gap for political newcomers and those interested in public service. 

This program educates and equips future community leaders on the unique demands of governmental leadership,” he said, “helping potential candidates and board members become more attuned to community needs and prepared to meet those needs through strategic action. 

Applications for the 2024-2025 class will open late summer/early fall. Interested individuals should follow the Chamber at and on social media. 

Exciting News: Jeretha Peters Named Chair of Albany Area Chamber of Commerce

 Albany – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to welcome Jeretha Peters as the 2024 chair of its Board of Directors. With a distinguished background as the Branch Manager and First Vice President of Investments at Wells Fargo Advisors, Peters brings a wealth of experience and commitment to the business community. 

As we stand at the beginning of a new year, many of us are inspired by the idea of change and the prospect of doing things differently to bring about better results, ” she said. “It is with immense gratitude and honor that I assume the role of chair of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. 

“Margaret Mead once said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.’ These words resonate deeply, not only with me, but within the spirit of the Albany Area Chamber as a collective of dedicated individuals and businesses on a journey to impact Albany positively,” Peters said. “We are not just an organization; we are catalysts for change, working to create a community that benefits us all – changing our world for the better. I am both excited and honored to serve our community through the Albany Area Chamber and invite you to join us as we navigate this journey to create a more thriving and prosperous community.” 

Peters is a longstanding member of the Albany Area Chamber and has served in various capacities. She served as chair-elect in 2023 and held a three-year role as chair of the Chamber’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, where she spearheaded the area’s first business-led initiative focused on fostering a welcoming environment for all. 

“We look forward to this year under Jeretha’s leadership and her focus of fostering innovation, transforming challenges into opportunities and collaborating with those who share a vision for Albany’s future,” said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president & CEO of the Albany Area Chamber and its 51c3 affiliate, the Albany Area Chamber Foundation. “We believe that together with our members and partners we can turn collective resolve into tangible actions that positively impact our community.” 

Ben Maillette, plant manager of Albany’s Molson Coors brewery, is the 2024 chair-elect and will assume the role of chairman in 2025. Peters was preceded in leadership by Perry Revell, CEO of AB&T; the late Chandu Kuntawala; and Don Gray, facilities manager for the city of Albany. Jeff Wright, managing partner at Draffin & Tucker, serves as the Chamber’s treasurer. 

Peters will address the membership at the Chamber’s 114th annual meeting on April 25. 


The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1910, is leading a multi-year strategic effort to advance economic opportunities. With a diverse business community in our corner, the Albany Area Chamber works diligently to serve area businesses, develop strategies that help our community prosper and design the path of Albany’s future. Learn more at