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New Chamber President Trey Grayson

Trey Grayson named new president of NKY Chamber

Trey Grayson, a Northern Kentucky native who served two terms as Kentucky Secretary State before taking a leadership role at Harvard University, his alma mater, has been hired as President of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Grayson, 42, is scheduled to start July 1 as President of the region's largest and most influential business group. Since 2011, he has served as Director of the prestigious Harvard University Institute of Politics.

"The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has been the most important organization in the region," Grayson said. "It is an honor to lead an organization with a mission to strengthen business and improve our quality of life."

"This," Grayson said, "is the perfect job to come home to."

Grayson succeeds Brent Cooper, the President of C-Forward Information Technologies in Covington, who has served as Chamber President on an interim basis since February.

"It was an honor to serve as the Interim President, as well as a search committee member, but I'm looking forward to getting back to C-Forward," Cooper said. "Trey will bring a fresh outlook and new perspective, growing the Chamber's rich tradition of business support and advocacy while focusing a new energy on collaboration, entrepreneurship, and moving our region forward. He is everything we were looking for."

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Lewis County Republican, who represents Northern Kentucky in Congress, said the Chamber "could not have made a better choice" in Grayson.

"Trey is the perfect person to lead the Chamber of Commerce in advocating for Northern Kentucky businesses both in Frankfort and Washington," Congressman Massie said. "He and I have a great working relationship that will allow us to hit the ground running."

Grayson served two terms as Kentucky's Secretary of State from 2004 to 2011, earning a reputation as a national leader in business services and government innovation while maintaining a bipartisan approach in office.

"I am confident that I have the track record of consensus-building and organizational leadership necessary for the Chamber," Grayson said. "I have bipartisan respect in Frankfort, and I am known for consensus building and modernizing organizations.

"I look forward to working with businesses and leaders on both sides of the Ohio River," he said.

Chamber Chairwoman, Debbie Simpson, President of Multi-Craft, said, "Grayson brings exceptional experience and qualifications to help the Chamber achieve its major goals of business growth and development, advocacy, and workforce development".

"Trey will bring a collaborative, fresh approach that will lead us in working together as a region," Simpson said. "He has local, statewide, and national connections and relationships, and a track record of success everywhere he's been."

Incoming Chamber Chairman, Steve Harper, the Chairman and President of Harper Oil Products, said the Chamber conducted a national search for a new President. More than 100 people applied. Grayson was ultimately selected from a finalist pool of two men and one woman. All three lived outside of Northern Kentucky.

"Throughout this process, Trey Grayson was the name that kept rising to the top," Harper said

Karen Finan and Barry Elkus of Gilman Partners conducted the national search for the Chamber and assisted in negotiating Grayson's employment contract.

Grayson brings a background of business involvement and connections to the Chamber.

As a tax and business lawyer and as Secretary of State, he represented, and worked closely with, the many small businesses that make up the majority of the Chamber's membership.

While in Northern Kentucky, Grayson volunteered at the Chamber and advised LEGACY, the Chamber's Young Professionals organization.

Jim Votruba, Chairman of the CEO Roundtable in Northern Kentucky, served on the Chamber's Executive Search Committee and was also a liaison between the Chamber and the Roundtable during the search for a new president.

"Trey Grayson received very strong support from the CEO Roundtable," Votruba said. "Members were impressed with his depth and breadth related to not only Northern Kentucky, but the Commonwealth as well. Trey is in a strong position to lead not only on behalf of business but the entire region."

Grayson said he is eager to begin the job and connect with the Chamber's business and legislative priorities. He is especially impressed with the region's entrepreneurial startup culture through organizations such as UpTech, the region's business accelerator, and the Northern Kentucky University College of Informatics.

The technology startup culture, while strong in Boston, is relatively new to Northern Kentucky.

"If I said to my mom and dad that after four years of college I was going to join a startup, they would have worried," Grayson said. "Now, it's great to do that. It's where some of our brightest young minds are heading."

"I'm anxious to work with NKU, Gateway, Thomas More College, our public schools and the Diocese of Covington schools," he said. "Education is a key factor to remaining economically competitive. We don't just compete with Lexington and Louisville; we compete nationally. To compete nationally for jobs and investment, we must continually work on improving our educational attainment levels."

Grayson said he will strive to maintain strong relationships with the Chamber's Board of Directors and the Northern Kentucky Legislative Caucus. And he wants to "sit at the same table" with Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber President and CEO Brian Carley "to build a strong regional partnership."

"My goal is to position the Chamber as the place where businesses and organizations can get together to improve Northern Kentucky's economy and quality of life," he said.

Kentucky State Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, said during his time in Frankfort Grayson established bipartisan relationships that will serve him well in his new role at the Chamber.

"Trey certainly understands Frankfort, that's for sure," Keene said. "He knows how to make friends on both sides of the political fence, and that's important. This was a good choice for the Chamber. I look forward to his leadership."

Southbank Partners President Jack Moreland called Grayson "one of the brightest young men this community has ever produced".

"I'm really excited about Trey Grayson coming back to Northern Kentucky," said Moreland, whose organization fosters economic development and infrastructure improvements in the region's Ohio River cities. "He is a consensus builder and a forward thinker who has the respect of everyone that he deals with."

After graduating from Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood, Grayson attended Harvard University, graduating with honors in 1994. He holds a law degree and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the University of Kentucky.

Prior to entering politics, he worked as an attorney with Greenbaum Doll & McDonald and Keating Muething & Klekamp.

Grayson and his wife, Nancy, have maintained their home in Boone County. The couple's daughters - Alex and Kate - are looking forward to coming home and attending class at Ryle High School and Gray Middle School next year.

"On a very personal level, I'm really looking forward to coming home," Grayson said. "We've been away for three years. The girls have grown up a lot. It will be great to move back to our old house and reconnect with all our family and friends. It's very exciting for all of us." 

Official press release. Photo: Trey Grayson (Courtesy of Harvard University)

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