Kelly Brough, the longtime head of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, announced Wednesday she’s leaving the position after 12 years.
President and CEO Brough oversaw the 3,000-member organization through the Great Recession recovery, and is in the midst of another caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down huge swaths of the economy in 2020.
“Truth be told, I have shared and implemented every idea (bad and good) I’ve had, and it’s time for somebody who can see challenges and opportunities with fresh eyes to lead the work,” Brough said in a statement.
Brough said she notified the Executive Committee of the Chamber’s Board last week and has agreed to stay on through Sept. 1.
In Brough's time at the chamber, its revenue doubled ($17 million in operations, $30 million in assets). She led initiatives on race and gender equity in 2018 focusing on jobs, affordable housing and entrepreneurship. She led numerous ballot efforts raising more than $40 million (open primaries, higher education, transportation, health care policy, energy production, tax policy and growth) and advocated for business-friendly legislation.
“I’ve worked with Kelly since I was on City Council and she was a member of the Hickenlooper Administration," Mayor Michael B. Hancock said via email. "We’ve tackled some of our region’s biggest issues together over that time. I look forward to seeing what challenge she takes on next to continue making a real and lasting difference.”
She worked for the City of Denver from 2003-09, including serving as then-Mayor John Hickenlooper's chief of staff.
Downtown Denver Partnership's President and CEO Tami Door, Brough's longtime friend, said "it has been a true benefit to work with someone who cares deeply about our community, as Kelly does, as is as committed to getting results.
"She is definitely a collaborative leader focused primarily on ensuring the best possible outcome," Door said in an interview Wednesday. "She does that trough consensus building. She develops and maintains relationships and truly listens to wide array of viewpoints."
While Brough didn’t elaborate on next steps for her, she alluded to areas that have been important to her in recent years: housing and education.
“These issues are fundamental to helping families succeed,” she said in the statement. “We have such serious challenges in these areas, so I am drawn to them.”
Brough thanked all the businesses and economic development-centered organizations she’s worked with since 2009. One of the hallmarks of her leadership was cooperation with other chambers, the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade and the Downtown Denver Partnership. That effort also included government officials, both locally and up through U.S. legislators from Colorado.
“I started at the Chamber in 2009 with the desire to work for an organization that aligned with my personal belief that there is nothing more powerful at advancing opportunities for families than a really good job,” Brough said in the statement. “That belief aligned perfectly with the work of the Chamber and its affiliates. Together with so many of you, we have accomplished so much and positioned this organization for the important work ahead.
“What you reminded me of again and again is that we are not only stronger together; we are smarter together.”