Just eight months after taking over as head of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, Mark Berson has left his post.
Announcing the news last week, Rod Howard, the Chamber’s Chairman said: “Mark Berson and the chamber have parted ways effective immediately. We wish Mark all the best in his future endeavors. The Chamber will refocus our efforts towards filling the CEO position and is forming an executive search committee now.”
No reason was given for the unexpected departure, although the Chamber’s former chair, Jonathan DeYoe, speaking to the Daily Californian, said Berson was not the right fit and lacked experience with Berkeley’s diverse culture. “The chamber is looking for a lot from a CEO. It’s a tough city, and it wasn’t a perfect fit for him. It wasn’t a perfect fit for us,” he said.
The Chamber has had serious difficulty finding and retaining CEOs in the past. Berson was its fourth head in just over two years.
Berson took up the CEO post in January after moving to Berkeley from Alabama where he was the president and CEO of the Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. He vowed to increase the Chamber’s membership, which stood at 330 at the time, and now numbers 350. Berson told Berkeleyside it should be at least double that figure.
Meanwhile Buy Local Berkeley, launched three years ago as a collaborative of merchant associations and small business owners based in the city, has 418 members. It recently appointed Kemi Amin as its interim director.
Nobody from the Chamber had returned calls from Berkeleyside as we went to press.