Kenneth M. Williams announced yesterday his resignation as president and chief executive officer of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. Williams said he is leaving the business group to join Buc$ Federal Bank as vice president of commercial accounts.
Cara Calder, the chamber's executive vice president, has been named to fill in for Williams when he leaves Feb. 10. The board of directors has begun searching for a permanent replacement, according to a news release announcing the resignation.
Williams said in an interview that he had decided to make the move because the bank job offered an opportunity to use skills he had developed working for chambers of commerce. Williams said he will still be very active in chamber activities in his new job.
The bank, which has headquarters in Owings Mills, has a branch in Columbia and is planning to open a second branch in Columbia next fall.
"This really matches my skill set in an organization that is aggressive," Williams said.
Williams came to Howard County after working as president of the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce in New York state. He replaced Michael G. Riemer, who held the Howard job for 15 months before retiring.
Among Williams' goals for the organization when he arrived were to build membership, use technology more effectively to help small businesses and build a coalition between the business community and the education community.
He leaves the organization with some of his plans unfulfilled - membership has not grown much in the past two years. But other programs have thrived.
Williams is proudest of the Workforce Development and Educational Trust, a nonprofit organized last year to help raise money for chamber programs focused on education and work force training. Williams described the trust as a crown to the organization's educational efforts.
"It really focuses on one of the core business issues for the long term - a well-trained work force," he said. "The foundation has been laid, and it will mushroom."
Calder, who also has been with the chamber for two years, said she is developing a plan to make sure the chamber does not lose ground.
"Continuity in transition is critical in my mind," she said.