The Victoria Chamber of Commerce announced Monday three finalists contending to be its next president and CEO.

Two of the finalists, Jeff Lyon and Courtney Middleton-Sides, are longtime Victorians with roots in the local business community.

Until last month, Lyon served as the vice president of marketing for the Victoria Economic Development Corp. Middleton-Sides currently serves as the senior director for corporate and foundation relations at the University of Houston-Victoria.

The third finalist, Landis Adams of Brazoria County, has worked with various chambers across the state.

Adams most recently has worked with the Brazoria County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Before that, he worked as the city of Keene’s Economic Development Director. He said his outside experience would lend a new perspective to the Victoria Chamber.

“My passion is in the chamber business,” Adams said. “The most important contribution I think I can bring is my outside ideas and resources I’ve attained.”

Additionally, Adams said he believes it’s important for the Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s next CEO to be able to relate with business owners so they can better connect members to resources. As leader of Platinum Marketing, Adams said he can do just that.

“I’ve owned my own business for the last 22 years,” Adams said. “I’d want to make sure that if a member calls they know they can get a whole lot more out of their membership than just a ribbon-cutting.”

For Lyon, the drive to fill the shoes of former chamber CEO Randy Vivian comes from the desire to continue serving the area’s business community, he said.

“I believe that I can assist the chamber in moving forward in trying to reach a stronger top-of-mind awareness,” Lyon said.

In particular, Lyon said he would want to strengthen the partnership between the Chamber of Commerce and various local agencies, including the city of Victoria, the county and the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Middleton-Sides similarly said that she wants to use her past interactions with the chamber to strengthen the position.

“I’ve been involved with the chamber for the last 30 years as chair of different committees so I’ve got a historical view,” Middleton-Sides said. “I would really like to spend the first 90 days visiting with chamber members and volunteers.”

As chamber CEO, she also said she would like to boost the chamber’s online presence and would want to leverage the legislative knowledge she’d gained working for State Rep. Geanie Morrison.

Jesse D. Pisors, chamber board chairman, made the announcement Monday and encouraged people to contact him with any questions. Pisors also is the vice president for Advancement and External Relations at the University of Houston-Victoria.

To learn more about each of the candidates, Pisors said he encourages the public to attend an open forum at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the UHV University North Multipurpose Room. Each candidate will give a presentation, and the public will then be invited to ask questions of the candidates. Evaluation forms will be provided for those who attend.

Morgan O'Hanlon is the business and agriculture reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6328, mohanlon@vicad.com or on Twitter @mcohanlon.

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Morgan covers business for the Victoria Advocate. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas and received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

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