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San Jose Chamber of Commerce CEO quits to take East Bay teaching job

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SAN JOSE — The top boss at the San Jose Chamber of Commerce has quit his post as chief executive officer in a move that forces the business group to find its third leader in three years.

Derrick Seaver has decided to depart his job as CEO of the San Jose Chamber to take a teaching job with a Christian school in the East Bay, the chamber confirmed Tuesday night.

Seaver has had the Chamber CEO job for just over two years. He took the reins at the San Jose Chamber in April 2021.

In October 2020, Seaver’s predecessor, Matt Mahood, resigned from the business organization in the wake of a political advertising campaign that was blasted for its racist overtones.

“When I took the job two years ago, the San Jose Chamber was in a tough spot, both publicly and internally,” Seaver said in an interview with this news organization. “It was a very difficult time.”

Due to the controversy over the advertising campaign, the San Jose Chamber stepped away from its political advocacy efforts that had become a chamber hallmark during the Mahood tenure.

The political ad that ultimately forced Mahood out of his CEO job was a post that showed Black men engulfed in tear gas or billowing smoke with a message that posed the question “Do you really want to sign on to this?”

Then known as The Silicon Valley Organization, the group convened an emergency meeting that resulted in Mahood being placed on paid leave. A few days after the political ad surfaced, Mahood abruptly resigned as CEO.

Under Seaver’s leadership, the chamber got back to its roots as an advocate for businesses, especially small businesses. The name also was changed back to the San Jose Chamber of Commerce during Seaver’s tenure.

Seaver had been involved with the chamber prior to taking the role of CEO. He also served as chief of staff for Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg.

“We thank Derrick Seaver for his two-and-a-half years of service as president and CEO,” said Dee Ann Harn, chair of the San Jose Chamber’s board of directors.

The outgoing CEO is expected to formally depart his San Jose Chamber job on Aug. 31. Seaver has agreed to take a teaching post at Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek.

“He (Seaver) was instrumental in helping turn our internal process around, create a healthier financial situation and reprioritize programming and member services,” Harn said.

Tony Mirenda, a senior executive with Blach Construction, has been named interim CEO of the San Jose Chamber while board members embark on what could be a months-long quest to find a new top boss for the business organization.

“Our chamber remains committed to working with our local business community to advance its success,” Harn said.

 

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