Phil Bussey, a veteran manager of corporate communications for large firms, has been named the new President of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. He steps down as senior vice president for corporate affairs of Puget Sound Energy on May 15 to take the new post. Here's Bussey's letter to friends:
Since the rumors about me have been swirling for weeks I thought I would put them to rest once and for all. Today I accepted the position of President & CEO of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. My last day at PSE will be May 15th.
I have to tell you that this has not been an easy decision. I have been blessed to work with such a great team at PSE that it made it very difficult to consider leaving, but I have to tell you that I am at peace with the decision and I know this is the appropriate next step for me.
I want to personally thank you for your friendship and support of me during the five and a half years I've been with PSE. It is a great company with an exciting future. I feel the same way about the Seattle Chamber and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and helping it achieve its full potential.
The Chamber has been conducting a high-level search since Steve Leahy stepped down a few months ago. According to observers, the goal was to find a new leader with strength in lobbying Olympia and good relations with Seattle City Hall; another goal was to position the Chamber to be a leader in helping define the region's new economy. Bussey is definitely an A-List choice, well regarded in the region and deeply familiar with the halls of government. He has worked as head of the Washington Roundtable, a collection of CEOs pushing a pro-business agenda, and directed corporate communications for PSE, Rockwell, Westinghouse, and ALCOA.
Among the other candidates said to be on the list of finalists were Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis, Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago, and Bill McSherry, director of economic development at Puget Sound Regional Council.
The Chamber has suffered some in recent years by the split between the new economy businesses on the Eastside and the mainstay sectors centered on Seattle. Its recent effort to forge agreement on the deep-bore tunnel solution to the Viaduct showed a new side: working well with a progressive coalition that partnered with labor and the environmental groups. Some feel, with government in disarray, that civic leadership in the coming years is more likely to come from the business community, redefined in terms of its political breadth and its embrace of the drivers of a new economy. Bussey would appear to be such a potential leader.