The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has selected James Cooper, the current leader of the Vallejo chamber, to serve as its next president and CEO.
A former real estate professional and U.S. Air Force veteran who also has career experience with the Novato, American Canyon and Benicia chambers of commerce, Cooper said he is "honored" to have the opportunity to move to the Pleasanton chamber and lead its efforts "with helping local businesses grow."
"My focus is for the chamber to be relevant to its members and the community. This only happens when we understand their concerns and collaborate on the solutions. For our voice to be heard, we must first be willing to listen," Cooper said in a statement released through the chamber on Thursday.
"The greatest joy I get from my role as chamber president is when I hear from a member that the chamber made a difference for them," he added. "We are a resource to be tapped, rich with information and connections benefiting businesses. Our job is to make sure members know we can help, and how."
Cooper, whose first day on the job in Pleasanton will be June 1, rose to the top of the chamber board's search process over the previous two months -- undertaken after President/CEO Steve Van Dorn announced his upcoming retirement in late February after nearly four years at the helm.
"We are confident that James will represent our business community with compassion and professionalism. His experiences not only make him well-positioned to lead our chamber, but also complement the economic initiatives our city has been focusing on," said Chamber Board Chair Kim Damiani of Summit Financial Group.
"James has an impressive professional background, and we are confident his approach will help the chamber fulfill its vision and mission over the years to come," Damiani added.
Cooper entered chamber of commerce administration later in his professional life, joining the Novato Chamber of Commerce as its membership manager in early 2011. The next year, he was hired as president and CEO of the American Canyon Chamber of Commerce, which he led for nearly four years.
He made the move one city south down Highway 29 to the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce to take over as its president and CEO in late 2016. During part of that time in the pandemic, Cooper concurrently assisted the Benicia Chamber of Commerce as interim executive director providing executive-level support during a time when the Benicia chamber had no staff.
Earlier in his working life, Cooper served in the U.S. Air Force in security policy and as a K-9 handler, and he later ran a dog training academy. He spent nearly 15 years in the real estate industry as a corporate marketing director, general manager and real estate salesperson. He was also a business services representative for the Workforce Investment Board of Solano County before working at the Novato chamber.
Cooper is a graduate of the Western Association of Chamber Executives and holds a Master of Business Administration with a global management emphasis and an undergraduate degree in business management.
A lifelong Californian, Cooper was born in Southern California but raised in the Bay Area. He is married with two daughters, one in college and the other a senior in high school. He and his wife own a small bed-and-breakfast on an island off the coast of Madagascar, his wife's home country.
Cooper cited his personal passions outside of the office as including music, movies, sports, traveling, and spending time with his family.