Chamber’s Vanden Heuvel selected for national fellowship
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Eric Vanden Heuvel, vice president of talent and education at the Greater Green Bay Chamber, has been on the job just 15 months, but he must be doing something right.
Vanden Heuvel was recently selected as one of 21 chamber executives for the 2021 Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Inclusive Economic Growth Fellowship.
“I was honored and surprised when I found out I was selected,” he said. “I’ve only been with the chamber a short time, and many of the people in the cohort have been in the chamber world longer than I have. So, I was pleasantly surprised by that.”
The year-long fellowship consists of monthly, full-group meetings, along with smaller group discussions, with about 2-3 meetings each month, Vanden Heuvel said.
“Obviously, continuous growth and development is important and the one thing I’ve learned about chambers around the country and about economic development is that they are all different,” he said. “Really what they have in common is they have little in common. And so, it’s a great opportunity for me to not only share what we are doing here in Green Bay with other people, but to be able to take some of that learning and grow myself and also to be able to grow our chamber for the betterment of our business community.”
Vanden Hevuel said he will work with leadership throughout the country to address different aspects of inclusive economic growth – from education and talent to economic development and entrepreneurship.
Leaders selected to participate in the fellowship represent urban and rural communities from 18 states.
“We are excited to work with this impressive group of chamber leaders,” ACCE President and CEO Sheree Anne Kelly said. “This fellowship will support their efforts to engage business leaders and community stakeholders to shape recovery efforts, build resilient local economies and create opportunities for everyone in the community to thrive.”
Vanden Heuvel said he will engage in facilitated discussions, interact with national experts and build peer-to-peer networks to further develop and execute specific economic recovery objectives.
“Really, it’s about learning, networking and developmenting leadership, specifically chamber leadership skills with other people who are in similar positions to mine from around the country,” he said. “So, it is kind of compare and contrast chambers, finding out best practices and just kind of growing in chamber leadership.”
Vanden Heuvel said the group began meeting virtually in mid-August.
“We had our first virtual meeting, which basically consisted of a meet-and-greet with people from around the country,” he said. “And just learning a little more about the fellowship.”
Vanden Heuvel said the ACCE hopes to hold an in-person meeting at some point during the program.
“They said they hope to be able to get us together in person, maybe as a culminating event at the end of the fellowship, but they obviously didn’t make any promises with COVID-19,” he said.
Vanden Heuvel said he applied for the fellowship after he received encouragement from his boss, Laurie Radke, president and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Chamber.
“Our CEO was planning to do it before the pandemic, and then the pandemic hit and then she wasn’t able to take advantage of it,” he said. “She just felt she just had too much on her plate. So she encouraged me to apply.”
Radke said she is thrilled Vanden Hevuel was chosen.
“We know that talent and education are critical pieces of economic growth,” Radke said. “Eric will not only learn from others, but will have the ability to share some of our own best practices.”
As the vice president of talent and education, Vanden Heuvel oversees a series of programs that include the youth apprenticeship program, Leadership Green Bay, Current Young Professionals and more.
“It is about helping with the development of people in our community,” he said. “And then second, it’s identifying common problems that exist for chamber members and leaders in our community and then trying to help solve those problems collectively.”