A changing of the guard is coming at the Association of Washington Business. Longtime president Don Brunell is retiring in January after guiding the state’s largest business advocacy group for 28 years, and vice president Kristofer Johnson has been named as his successor.
Brunell has been the leading advocate for Washington business in Olympia for years, and he had announced his intention to retire several months ago. The 8,100-member AWB made public the plan by its succession committee on Tuesday.
In a news release, AWB quoted businessman Mel Russell of Vancouver, who chairs AWB’s board and also led the committee’s nationwide search, as saying:
“After an extensive nationwide search, we are proud to announce the selection of Kris Johnson to lead AWB. He brings a strong blend of chamber and legislative experience here in Washington state. Kris is someone who understands the challenges and opportunities for AWB in the coming years.”
“We are, at the same time, grateful for the work of outgoing president Don Brunell, whose work and long-time dedication provides a solid foundation on which to continue the growth and development of AWB. His experience at AWB and as a chamber leader will serve the association’s membership well in advancing the chamber’s priorities,” he said.
“Kris also understands the value and importance of a strong advocacy program, ensuring the right policies are in place to attract and retain private employers in our state who can create jobs and grow their businesses,” added Russell.
Johnson, who serves as vice president for operations at AWB, joined the organization in 2009 after leading the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce in Minnesota. The AWB news release said that he previously had led the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce in Kennewick where he “built and managed a comprehensive government affairs program that secured millions in state funding for transportation, higher education and other regional priorities.’’
Brunell said “Kris was in the eye of the storm on many critical issues impacting the Hanford cleanup and redevelopment of the Tri-Cities after the federal government switched from a defense mission to a clean-up mission at the Hanford Reservation.”
Johnson’s official AWB bio is here.