Richard B. Kennedy, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce for the last eight years, will retire at the end of 2013, the chamber announced today.
Kennedy, who said he will turn 70 before he leaves the job, cited a desire to slow down in order to have more free time for family, leisure and other pursuits. "I have been fortunate enough to have had essentially two careers, the last eight serving Worcester's business community," he said. "I remain committed to the chamber and its mission, and believe that it will continue to play an important role in the local economy."
Kennedy has guided the chamber during a period of declining membership. In 2003, the year before he took office, the chamber had an estimated 3,900 members. By last spring, that number had fallen to about 2,500.
Richard P. Burke, president of senior care services at Fallon Community Health Plan and chairman of the chamber board of directors, commended Kennedy in the chamber's statement. "Dick carried the chamber through a difficult transition and challenging economic times," he said. "His ability to bring together public, private, and other sectors for the overall good of the region speaks of his commitment and dedication to the mission and purpose of the chamber."
Kennedy was a top executive at Norton Co. and later Saint-Gobain after the French multinational company bought Norton in the early 1990s. He left the company in 1999 as vice president of world marketing for Saint-Gobain's Abrasives Group.
(NOTE: In the video clip at left, Kennedy talks about the organization's accomplishments during his tenure.)