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Campus Director Leslie Weber Inducted As Chair of Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce

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Leslie Weber was inducted in June as chair of the board of directors of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. Weber is director of the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus and director of government and community affairs for Johns Hopkins in Montgomery County. She long has been involved with the Chamber: She has held leadership positions on the board and received the Chairman’s Award in 2016.

“I am honored to serve as the incoming board chair of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce,” Weber said. “The Chamber plays a vital role in Montgomery County, supporting job creation and ensuring our legislative priorities are heard in Annapolis and Rockville. I am energized and ready to support local businesses and jobs for Montgomery County residents so that our entire community may grow and prosper.”

Weber began her remarks with expressions of appreciation to awardees at the dinner, the board and staff of the Chamber, her colleagues and family.   The remainder of her remarks are reprinted below, as prepared for delivery, at the Chamber’s 59th annual dinner celebration:

When Mike [Weber’s husband] and I moved to Bethesda in 1996, I worked in DC and later in College Park.  One of the things that interested me about working at Suburban Hospital, was the opportunity to get more involved professionally in the community where we were making our home.  My family’s support has made it possible for me to do that and to be here tonight.   

[My son] is not here tonight because he is interning at E3 in Los Angeles.  You gamers out there know what I’m talking about.  I couldn’t believe it either that a teenage boy would rather be at an electronic gaming extravaganza than enjoying dinner with all of us tonight, but there you have it!

Like many parents, Mike and I had several discussions over the years about screen time.   Somewhere along the way, the kids convinced us that the lessons learned in gaming can be applied to life…AND business. 

Lesson One, Timing is Everything

Many of us have read Marshall Goldsmith’s book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” and he has this observation:   

“If you can’t identify what matters to you, you won’t know when it’s being threatened. And in my experience, people only change their ways when what they truly value is threatened.”

Do you know what matters? Are we at a point in our civic and community life when the things we truly value are threatened? If so, then the time is now to shake off any complacency about your own easy commute, your own good school, your own high-paying job because the same is NOT true for everyone in our community.  

What can you do? Certainly, you can vote. You can speak up. You can be a role model and you can work with the Chamber to advance our collective interests, especially in supporting the creation of more high-paying jobs inMontgomery County. The time is now.

Lesson Two, Obstacles Mean Progression

In a video game, obstacles appear continually. And the only way to progress in the game, is to either work around them or overcome them with your superior skills.

We have to do the same in our civic and professional lives. Stop expecting the status quo – or even a return to the “way things were.”

Instead, learn to adapt to make positive changes. The Chamber is here to help you shape your market, to advocate for strategic investments, and to improve the economic competitiveness of our region. 

We will know we have made progress together when higher net growth of businesses has resulted in more high-paying jobs in Montgomery County.

Lesson Three, Teamwork is Crucial

The first chamber was formed in 1699 in Marseille, France, to provide the merchants, traders, craftsmen and industrialists a public forum to discuss issues facing them as a business community.  

Three hundred plus years later and chambers around the world, including here in Montgomery County, are still convening to share best practices and to make our collective concerns known.

No matter what happens in the primary on June 26, we will need to continue to work together to help educate new office holders about the realities of doing business in the 21st century and to be proactive partners in our collective future.

As my friend Jane Fairweather observed in her speech to the Bethesda Chamber last week, politicians will be well-served to remember that a thriving business community lifts all boats.  Companies – and not just individual residents working in Fairfax, DC and even Frederick – pay the bills for good roads, good schools, bus routes, parks and clean water.   

All of you joined the Chamber because you realize that there are things you and your business can’t accomplish alone.  I’m excited about the opportunity in the year ahead to lead this team as we work together to grow our companies, produce great products and services and provide great jobs inMontgomery County.  

Lesson Four, Connections are Valuable.

In addition to advocacy, networking is at the heart of what we do in the Chamber.  Keep coming to events like this one and smaller programs.  I appreciate how attentive all of you are right now, but I really love it when the room is buzzing with the conversation that shows that business deals are underway and commerce is happening.

Draw upon the expertise of both the Chamber staff and your fellow members.   Both will help your enterprises thrive and to continue to offer good jobs in Montgomery County.

Lesson Five, Multitask or Perish.

In her speech in December to the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber, my colleague Barbara Crews spoke of her own deepening involvement in the community through her children’s schools and civic organizations, all while balancing home and work.  

You know, your kids think they invented multitasking, but Montgomery County business leaders have been doing it for generations. 

  • Large companies like Marriott expanded their business lines while their founders raised families and led their faith communities
  • Small companies, like United Solutions, watch the horizons for new technologies to teach their clients, while their founders embark on “lifelong learning” and demonstrate that immigrants can get the job done. (That one is for all of you who are here tonight instead of the opening of Hamilton at the Kennedy Center!)

Just like in the video games we play, if we don’t multi-task, we will perish. You can’t win the game by pressing pause.  

This community won’t win in the 21st Century by keeping new residents out. We need to continue our welcoming traditions and then multi-task our way to addressing congestion, school capacity, housing and the demand for green space.

The Chamber and the business community are eager to participate in solving our community’s challenges with the respect and that is owed to the people who create jobs in Montgomery County.

The last lesson from gaming is about resilience. If You Die in a Video Game, You Have Another Life.

We won’t always succeed in our individual or collective endeavors, but that is not a license to give up.   Take a rest and then keep going. 

Six months ago, my father died and then my mother moved in with us, so I’ve had some time to think about the lessons they taught me. 

When I was growing up, our economic life was precarious. My parents worked, but they were not well-paid.  Many of you know me as a proud graduate of the University of Michigan and of Georgetown, but before that I was the smart FARMS kid in our local public high school.  

Despite our challenges at home, both my parents tapped into their own resilience not to retreat but to engage in our community life. They volunteered at the PTA, coached sports teams, served our congregations and my father was even a volunteer first-responder.

It’s such an honor to work with all of you who do the same. Despite setbacks, you continue to stay in the game to ensure your own businesses and our entire community can grow and prosper.

Thank you and let’s have a great year in Montgomery County.

CATEGORY: In The Community