The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce has appointed a new president, Laurel Rosen, after former president/chief executive officer (CEO) Jim Lynch — who had been president for just ten months — was fired August 31st.
Rosen — who has served as vice chair of the chamber for the last few years — will start her new position Monday, November 5th.
“I think she’ll be a terrific CEO,” said chamber board chairman Tom Larmore, who has been serving as interim CEO. “We could not possibly have found someone better suited for the job. Everyone is delighted.”
Rosen, who has worked as director of sales and marketing for The Lobster restaurant in Santa Monica for the past eight years and has also served as catering director and food and beverage director for various restaurants and hotels after establishing her own catering business, has been a member of the chamber for over seven years.
She has served on the board of directors and its executive committee and homeless committee and has also led the “Taste of Santa Monica” event since it started seven years ago.
“She’s very knowledgeable about the chamber and about the staff and the way it operates,” says Larmore. “And her experience is in event planning, which is, of course, a major part of what we do. She’ll just do a wonderful job.”
Rosen, who has also served on the board of the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, currently chairs the “I Know Santa Monica” branding committee and represents Santa Monica around the world as a part of “Team Santa Monica” to encourage tourism.
Rosen has also been active with local nonprofit organizations, including OPCC’s Turning Point program and the annual Bowl-a-thon to raise funds for homeless services.
When the chamber initially started looking for a new CEO after Lynch was fired, Rosen says she had no idea she would become his replacement.
“She was actually initially interviewing other people [for the job],” says Larmore. “When we started the process, she wasn’t really thinking of the job for herself.”
Rosen adds, “We had been interviewing and many, many, many people from the community called and were encouraging me to apply. They’d say, ‘Laurel, you’re perfect for the position; you’re the one who should be taking this position’ and I thought about it and realized they were right.”
So she applied.
“It made perfect sense,” Rosen says. “I think this is a great transition. While I enjoyed my work at The Lobster and all of the people there, I was ready for a new challenge and this position seemed ideal because it combines my experience in marketing and event planning with an opportunity to expand my involvement in the community.
“My work in the local business arena, combined with active participation with various non-profits, will, I believe, give me a solid foundation for leading the chamber with it’s almost 1,000 members, including many nonprofit organizations.”
“She’s well known and respected all over town,” Larmore says. “She’s well known to all of the tourism industry, she’s well known to city officials and very well liked — from City Council members to city staff. From that point of view, it’s an ideal fit.”
Rosen says her first priority is to help build the city’s business strength, but also to help the community understand the importance of tourism in Santa Monica — and she can’t wait to get started.
“I’m very excited,” she says. “I’m looking forward to this year. I think that this year is really going to prove to be a year of great relationships between the chamber and the city. I think everyone is encouraged by moving forward here.”