Chamber announces executive leadership transition

February 6, 2023

Chamber announces executive leadership transition

Chamber President/CEO Nick Ortiz accepts position with CalChamber; VP Hillary Haenes appointed Interim President/CEO

Contact: Justin Salters, justin@heysalty.com, call/text: 661-706-6427

Bakersfield, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2023) – The Greater Bakersfield Chamber today announced changes to its executive staff leadership. Chamber President and CEO Nick Ortiz has accepted a position with CalChamber as Vice President, Local Chamber Relations and President and CEO of the Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE). The Chamber’s Vice President of Member Engagement, Hillary Haenes, has been appointed Interim President and CEO while the Chamber conducts a national search for its next leader.

“Nick has been a dynamic leader and tireless advocate for our region during his time leading the Chamber,” said Ken Keller, President and CEO of Dignity Health Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. “It’s an understatement to say his departure will leave a void, but I speak on behalf of our entire board when I say we are excited to see him continue to advocate for local chambers and represent the needs of California’s job creators.”

Ortiz has helmed the Greater Bakersfield Chamber since April 2015. During his tenure, the Chamber has experienced membership and revenue growth and the execution of several key initiatives, including the Bakersfield-Kern Regional Branding Initiative, the campaign to pass Measure N, the City of Bakersfield’s Public Safety and Vital Services initiative, the launch of B3K Prosperity and, most recently, bringing the California Economic Summit to Bakersfield.

“Bakersfield is our hometown, and it will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Ortiz. “Joining our longtime partners – and fellow Kern County-native Jennifer Barrera – on staff with the CalChamber is a once-in-a-career opportunity to take what we’ve done so well in Bakersfield – advocacy, partnerships and growth – and leverage the resources of CalChamber to help scale local chambers across the state.”

“Nick’s leadership on issues of local, regional and statewide importance have not been unnoticed by the team and board at CalChamber,” said Jennifer Barrera, CalChamber President and CEO. “We’re excited to add his expertise and passion to our organization and look forward to strengthening our support for local Chambers like the Greater Bakersfield Chamber.”

The Chamber’s Executive Committee has appointed Hillary Haenes as Interim President and CEO while it conducts a national search for its next permanent President and CEO.

Haenes has been a member of the Chamber’s staff since 2014. During her tenure, she has contributed to steady growth in stakeholder and membership engagement and signature events, including the annual Beautiful Bakersfield Awards.

“I look forward to serving the Chamber and our members during this critical time, stewarding the organization until our next President and CEO is appointed,” said Haenes. “Our capable team remains ready for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead to continue making Bakersfield a better place to live, work and build a business.”

Ortiz’s final day on staff at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber will be February 24.



The Greater Bakersfield Chamber is the region’s leading business membership, networking and advocacy organization, representing the interests of more than 1,100 members and more than 70,000 local jobs. Focused on creating a thriving local economy and improving the quality of life for every resident of Greater Bakersfield; the organization promotes economic vitality, facilitates networking and business development opportunities, and advocates for public policies that support quality jobs and inclusive growth. The Chamber guides Bakersfield toward a better and brighter future. Founded in 1920, the Chamber is driven by the belief that our community thrives when businesses succeed.

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