After 18 years of service, South Bend Regional Chamber Executive Vice President Paul Laskowski is retiring at the end of the year. Current Visit South Bend Mishawaka (VSBM) Executive Director Rob DeCleene has been named the new executive vice president of the Chamber, beginning January 1, 2018. In addition, Controller Mari Bishop has been promoted to director of operations, effective immediately.
Laskowski served as interim Chamber president on two separate occasions and was instrumental in developing and executing the Chamber’s Intercity Visit and Michiana Forty under 40 programs. He also led the organization’s accreditation process during his tenure, with the Chamber achieving 5-Star accreditation status, the highest a chamber can attain.
While at the Chamber, Laskowski served as past chair and a board member for the South Bend Alumni Association. He has also served on the boards for the United Way of St. Joseph County, Business Development Corporation and the Northern Indiana Workforce Investment Board.
“I’ve never had interest in expending effort on “wheel-spinning” or as my mentor in the chamber profession, Mark Eagan, often said, ‘no charades.’ Therefore, I am happy to have been one of the original planners of the Young Professionals Network South Bend and the Chamber Business Expo After Hours, and to see them both thriving after 12 and 15 years respectively,” said Laskowski.
“I’m most proud of and pleased with the various staff members I’ve hired or otherwise worked with who are totally committed to helping others on a daily basis. Ultimately, that’s the Chamber’s mission,” said Laskowski.
Taking on the role of executive vice president will be Rob DeCleene, who also serves as executive director of Chamber affiliate Visit South Bend Mishawaka, a position he will retain.
DeCleene has been with the Chamber for 7-1/2 years, and in that time, doubled the VSBM staff, implemented the tourism marketing grant program and enacted a $250,000 annual tourism cooperative marketing campaign. DeCleene is also a certified destination management executive (CDME).
DeCleene currently serves as president of the Studebaker National Museum Board of Trustees, is a board member of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association, is vice chair of the Downtown South Bend, Inc. board and member of the Indiana Tourism Association board.
“I’m excited for the opportunity as a South Bend native. I’m looking forward to expanding my involvement with the Chamber’s efforts to advance the economy of the South Bend Region, and the affirmation this represents for the importance of tourism in the region,” said DeCleene.
In other staff updates, Mari Bishop, who has been with the Chamber for 33 years, has been promoted from controller to director of operations. In this new position, she serves as the organization’s chief financial officer, managing all financial activities and responsible for the daily operations of the Chamber, including oversight of human resources and membership.
“We are so grateful for the intelligence, depth of knowledge and common-sense approach Paul Laskowski brought to the organization for nearly two decades. His commitment to excellence uplifted the Chamber to make it become a stand-out organization in the industry,” said Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the Chamber. “At the same time, we are looking forward to Rob DeCleene’s expanded role with the organization, providing a fresh perspective but one based on community knowledge and experience. The coalesced nature of the Chamber means we are able to take advantage of the synergies and talents brought to the table by our affiliated programs, as demonstrated by the successful work of Rob DeCleene,” said Rea.