Chamber welcomes new President and CEO

September 27, 2012

TOPEKA, KAN. (September 26, 2012) - The Kansas Chamber of Commerce announced today the hiring of Mike O'Neal as its new President & CEO. O'Neal, a Hutchinson attorney, is retiring from public service after serving 28 years in the Kansas House of Representatives, the last 4 years as the Speaker of the House.

Kent Beisner, who has worked for the Chamber for a number of years and served in the CEO position for the past 3 years, will assume the position of Chief Operating Officer.

"The Chamber is excited that someone of O'Neal's business and leadership experience became available and was willing to take on the task of helping the Kansas Chamber build on the strong and successful pro-business agenda the Kansas Chamber has advanced. He was selected by unanimous vote of the Executive Committee, said Dave Murfin, Chairman of the Kansas Chamber Board of Directors. "We're very grateful for Kent Beisner's strong leadership in that position the past 3 years and look forward to his continued work on behalf of the Kansas Chamber in his new position", he added.

"The Kansas Chamber is proud of the success we have accomplished the past several years", said Kent Beisner. "We have a terrific and dedicated staff that works diligently for the business community. In my new role I will continue to work and advocate for the Kansas Chamber in a strong leadership position. The Chamber team will be able to continue its active role of moving the business agenda forward for our great state."

"The Chamber felt this was a natural fit. O'Neal was active for a number of years in his local Chamber and is a graduate of both the Leadership Hutchinson and Leadership Kansas programs. In 2009 he was awarded the Leadership Kansas Alumnus of the year award. While serving in the Kansas House, Mike has been a strong pro-business voice and advocate. His vision and the Kansas Chamber's vision have always been the same, to make Kansas the best place in America to run a business", said Ivan Crossland, incoming Kansas Chamber Board Chairman for 2013.

"O'Neal's knowledge of the legislative process, his valued relationships with the legislature and Administration and his passion to make his state successful and competitive were key reasons for the hire", said Mike Maddox, immediate past Kansas Chamber Board Chairman. "The Kansas Chamber, already a powerful and successful voice for the Kansas business community, became even stronger with this hire", he added.

Governor Sam Brownback applauded the move, stating "Mike O'Neal is a great Kansan who will do a fabulous job as the Kansas Chamber President."

At O'Neal's announcement in June that he planned to retire from the Kansas Legislature at the end of his current term in January he expressed an interest in being able to stay engaged and active in the business community and legislative process. He will assume his President & CEO duties with the Chamber in October and join the Chamber lobbying team's efforts when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

"After practicing law for over 35 years and in a firm with a statewide presence for nearly 25 years, I wasn't looking to leave the active practice of law, necessarily, but this opportunity to work with the Kansas Chamber is perfect for me. I have always admired the work of the Kansas Chamber and have tremendous respect for its Board and staff. The opportunity to join this strong and effective organization and continue working on pro-business initiatives with the Administration, with my former legislative colleagues and new legislative members is exciting and I look forward to the challenge", said O'Neal.