By MaryBeth Matzek
Although Laurie Radke is president and CEO of the Greater Green Bay Chamber, she feels it’s her responsibility to serve others, whether its local businesses, communities or her staff.
“I have a great sense of appreciation to those who invest (in the chamber) whether it’s their dollars or their time as volunteers. I want to be a good steward of their investments and make sure I’m always doing what I can to move the chamber forward,” says Radke, who joined the chamber in September 2011 after serving as dean of academic training at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
Under Radke’s guidance, the chamber launched the Greater Green Bay Economic Development Plan, a first for the region. She and the chamber brought together nearly 400 community leaders to build a plan to propel the greater Green Bay community into the future as a viable region in the name of talent attraction and retention as well as overarching economic development.
Radke says the plan doesn’t just sit on a shelf but is constantly referred to and acted on. Last fall, the chamber gathered community and business leaders for an update on the plan and its next steps. The plan is more than just looking at how to create more jobs, she says. It also focuses on other areas of importance, including diversity and infrastructure needs.
“It was remarkable to sit back and see all of these individuals get up and talk about the work they’re doing as part of their strategic teams,” Radke says. “They may run a business, be part of an education institution or run a city or village, but they are taking time away from that to help us advance this strategic plan forward.”
Radke says it is important for leaders to recognize what they can take on and what they don’t have time for. “You need to figure out who you are and what you can give. Sometimes, it’s OK to say no,” she says. “It’s all about owning who you are.”
In her own leadership journey, Radke finds enlightenment through journaling and taking self-assessments. “That has allowed me to constantly reflect that we (the chamber) are remaining relevant in our communities and connecting with our partners and members on what else we can do,” she says.
Lori Kaye Lodes, the chamber’s vice president of marketing and communications, and who nominated Radke for the award, says Radke’s involvement in other community initiatives, including Achieve Brown County and Wello, is just another example of her servant leadership.
“Laurie is humble, doing the work she does because she is very passionate about economic and workforce development and not in pursuit of accolades,” she says. “Her reach extends beyond the 1,200 chamber member businesses and their 90,000 employees. It impacts the entire greater Green Bay area, as business builds community.”
Click here to watch Laurie Radke’s acceptance speech.