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25 Years of Leadership

Reston Chamber of Commerce celebrates 25th anniversary.

Past president Karen Cleveland first asked those who have been members of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce for more than 20 years to stand up. A few stood. She then asked those who had joined within the last two years to stand, and more than half of the filled out conference room at Hyatt Regency Reston stood.

"I think you made one of the best decisions you will make," she told the relatively new members of the Reston Chamber. The chamber celebrated its 25th birthday on Thursday, with a luncheon that also honored the 2007 Best of Reston Award recipients.

Cleveland, the keynote speaker, told stories of the chamber's birth and the challenges it faced over the years. However, she noted, the chamber is alive and well, with many new members joining each year. The Reston Chamber, according to Cleveland, began developing after Del. Ken Plum (D-36) asked people what the business community in Reston was doing to organize itself. The Reston Board of Commerce was initiated while businesses had options of joining the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "[Those two] chambers could not quite conceive what Reston community needed," said Cleveland, so the Reston Chamber of Commerce was born.

The celebration of the 25th anniversary included a video presentation on the services the chamber offers its members. In the presentation, chamber Chairman and President of Myers Public Relations Marion Myers said 90 percent of her business comes from her association with the Reston Chamber. Joe Ritchey, principal of Prospective, Inc., encouraged people to join a chamber, any chamber. "It gives me an opportunity to network with larger corporations," said Ritchey.

Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Reston Interfaith, said the chamber is not only good for networking, but that it also provides a strong voice in the community. "I have never seen an organization and individual members so committed to being a part of the community," said Wilson.

In her remarks at the celebration, Myers introduced Reston Chamber's new president Penny Pompei. Most recently Pompei was the CEO of the National Women's Business Center in Washington, D.C. The celebration also had a somber and emotional side to it, as Myers dedicated the anniversary to Barbara Aaron who recently died. Aaron was the chamber's chairman in 1992.