Don Laird, who served as Columbia Chamber of Commerce President from 1988 to 2013, has been awarded the Life Member Award by Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives recognizing both a lifetime of success in the chamber profession and the ACCE member-for-life status.
Nominees must exemplify four principal characteristics: excellence throughout their chamber careers, measurable success in building their communities and organizations, significant contribution to the profession, and mentorship of their own staffs and others seeking growth in the profession. Laird meets and exceeds each of these expectations.
As president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, he brought national notoriety to the Mid-Missouri region. He pioneered many innovative programs and events which made the Columbia Chamber a role model for other Chambers in not just Missouri, but the U.S as well. His leadership was the foundation that led to the Chamber becoming a 5-Five Star Accredited Chamber in 2016.
“It has been my privilege to be the President of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce for the last twenty-four years of my Chamber career,” Laird said. “The committed volunteer leadership of the Columbia Chamber along with a fantastic staff has made this a great lifetime achievement honor.”
Laird’s leadership and dedication to making the Chamber and city of Columbia a great place to live, learn, work and play are impeccable. During his tenure, he made sure to set a standard that easily allowed the city and the Chamber to succeed. That has translated to long-term prosperity.
“Don really paved the road for the organization to have a clear direction for the Chamber’s future,” Columbia Chamber of Commerce President, Matt McCormick said. “What he accomplished in his tenure can still be seen today as positively contributing to the business community in the region.”
On top of his career in Columbia, Laird was active in the U.S. Chamber Institute for Organization Management on the board of Trustees, owned a small business and served 26 years as a U.S. Army officer on active duty and reserve duty, with service in Vietnam. His accolades also include being the president of the Kansas and later the Missouri chamber executive organizations served on the ACCE Board of Directors and was awarded the Top Level Award by the Missouri Chamber Executives.
Upon retirement, Don has continued to stay active in the community becoming a mentor in the local veteran’s court, serving on the local community foundation, a research foundation affiliated with the Truman VA Hospital, the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau board, his homeowners association, the Boy Scout Board and a local bank board.
The Columbia Chamber of Commerce was established in 1905 and is a voluntary, member-supported organization of business, industrial and professional people who are dedicated to developing, promoting and maintaining a sound and healthy economic climate for Columbia. The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is recognized as a 5-Star Accredited Chamber by the United States Chamber of Commerce which places it as one of the top operating chambers of commerce in the country.