San Jose Chamber of Commerce CEO quits to take East Bay teaching job

Derrick Seaver was named SJ Chamber top boss just over two years ago

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The top executive at the San Jose Chamber of Commerce has resigned as CEO, forcing the business group to find its third leader in three years.

Derrick Seaver has decided to leave his position as CEO of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce to teach at a Christian school in the East Bay, the chamber announced Tuesday night.

Seaver has been the CEO of the Chamber for just over two years. In April 2021, he assumed leadership of the San Jose Chamber.

In October 2020, Seaver’s predecessor, Matt Mahood, resigned from the business organization in the aftermath of a racist political advertising campaign.

“When I took the job two years ago, the San Jose Chamber was in a tough spot, both publicly and internally,” Seaver told this news organization in an interview. “It was a very difficult time.”

Because of the controversy surrounding the advertising campaign, the San Jose Chamber withdrew from its political advocacy efforts, which had become a hallmark of the chamber during Mahood’s tenure.

The political ad that eventually forced Mahood out of his CEO position was a post that depicted Black men engulfed in tear gas or billowing smoke, with the message “Do you really want to sign on to this?”

The Silicon Valley Organization, as it was then known, called an emergency meeting, which resulted in Mahood being placed on paid leave. Mahood abruptly resigned as CEO a few days after the political ad surfaced.

Under Seaver’s leadership, the chamber returned to its roots as a business advocate, particularly for small businesses. During Seaver’s tenure, the name was also changed back to the San Jose Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to becoming CEO, Seaver was involved with the chamber. He also worked as Susan Ellenberg’s chief of staff in Santa Clara County.

“We thank Derrick Seaver for his two-and-a-half years of service as president and CEO,” said Dee Ann Harn, chair of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.

The outgoing CEO is scheduled to leave the San Jose Chamber on August 31. Seaver has agreed to teach at Walnut Creek’s Berean Christian High School.

“He (Seaver) was instrumental in helping to turn our internal process around, create a healthier financial situation, and reprioritize programming and member services,” Harn explained.

Tony Mirenda, a former senior executive with Blach Construction, has been named interim CEO of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce while board members embark on what could be a months-long search for the business organization’s new top boss.

“Our chamber remains committed to working with our local business community to advance its success,” said Harn.

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