Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Klingel will step down after 13 years at the helm of one of the stateâ€™s biggest and most active business advocacy groups.
Klingel announced the move in a letter to chamber members on Friday, citing his ongoing treatment for cancer. He plans to continue as the groupâ€™s CEO through March, when an interim president will take over, and then will serve as a part-time adviser through June.
â€śThis has been an extremely difficult decision for me as it has been my privilege to lead this organization and work with all of you,â€ť he wrote. â€śIt became clear, however, that despite my best attempts and your good wishes, this cancer is not going away anytime soon.â€ť
The illness has left Klingel without the energy to manage his job and spend time with his family, he said.
With more than 1,000 members across the 13-county metro area, including affiliates in Bloomington and northeast Minneapolis, the chamber is one of the largest in Minnesota.
Laura McCarten, who chairs its board, said the organization expects to select an interim president in the next week and approve a plan to find a permanent leader. She declined to name the interim leader, but said the board is confident in the transition plan it mapped out ahead of Fridayâ€™s announcement.
â€śWe really tried to think this through and figure out what is needed to serve the organization and make a wise transition for Todd and for an interim president coming in,â€ť McCarten said. The board will also form a committee to recruit and vet prospective replacements.
There is no timetable yet for settling on a permanent president.
Klingel took over the chamber in 2003 after a stint as executive vice president at the Minneapolis Downtown Council. He has worked closely with the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and other groups to spearhead regional economic development initiatives.
In addition, he helped shape the chamber into a major advocate for transportation investment. The group has also zeroed in on workforce development through partnerships with the Minneapolis Public Schools and Achieve Minneapolis.
â€śWithout Todd, the [chamber] would not be the recognized leader that it is in policy issues, member services and initiatives such as workforce development and education,â€ť McCarten said. â€śI donâ€™t have enough time to say all the things Todd has led us so well on.â€ť
Klingel in his letter praised chamber staffers, who he says are equipped to streamline the switch to new leadership. They proved their muster during his â€śmajor hospitalizationsâ€ť last year, he said.
During his time at the Minneapolis Downtown Council, Klingel was part of the team that helped launch the Holidazzle holiday parades that first lit up Nicollet Mall in 1992. He also spearheaded efforts to make the Minneapolis Aquatennial festival part of the councilâ€™s annual programming.
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