Lancaster Chamber hires first female president, CEO 

Heather Valudes. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Lancaster Chamber Vice President Heather Valudes will succeed Thomas Baldrige, the chamber’s president of more than 22 years, when he retires next month. 

The Lancaster Chamber Board of Directors announced on Wednesday that Valudes has been named the chamber’s next president and CEO. 

Valudes joined the chamber in 2011 as its advocacy director with a focus on government affairs and community impact. Prior to joining the chamber, she was the government affairs coordinator at the building industry association. 

The appointment follows a four-month nationwide search conducted by Waverly Partners, the chamber wrote in a release. The chamber also created an eight-person search committee to aid with the effort, which included Michelle Rondinelli, the chamber’s past chair and president of Kitchen Kettle Foods and J. Seroky, president of High Concrete and the chamber’s current chair. 

“The search committee, with the help of Waverly Partners, was extremely diligent over these past few months in the search for the new CEO of the Chamber,” said Rondinelli. “We are thrilled to have Heather as the selected candidate for this position. With her deep knowledge of chamber operations, her passion for pro-business advocacy and community impact and a clear vision for the future, Heather will be a true asset to the chamber as the organization moves forward.” 

Valudes graduated from West Chester University in 2007 with a degree in political science and holds a Master’s in public administration from West Chester University. She was also named one of the Central Penn Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2019. 

“I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to lead the Lancaster Chamber,” said Valudes. “For 150 years, we have been supporting business and recognizing their role in cultivating a thriving community – and I am excited to honor that legacy as we look to the future. With the support of our members, our dedicated and thoughtful board and staff team, and collaborative community partners, the Lancaster Chamber will continue to be a convener, a champion for business, and an organization addressing the challenges and opportunities in our community.” 

Baldrige announced he would retire from the role in October. He said that Valudes deserves the role and that in her past ten years she has been exceptional. 

“…I am confident the best is yet to come as she transitions to leading the organization,” he said. “Heather’s appointment to this position, is made even more meaningful, when one recognizes that this is the first women president in our c150-year history. Her energy, strategic mindset and respect for Lancaster County business makes her the perfect choice to lead our vision of making Lancaster County a thriving community for all.” 

The announcement comes just a day after the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry announced its new president and CEO, Luke Bernstein, to succeed Gene Barr at the end of June.