Balla shares praise for chamber growth
January 21, 2013
CRANBERRY TWP — Susan Balla doesn't have any regrets regarding her tenure as the executive director of THE CHAMBER of Commerce. After all, she presided over a massive merger that saw two substantial chambers of commerce come together to form what is now the third largest chamber in the Pittsburgh region. The group represents more than 1,100 businesses and 16 municipalities in three counties. Balla will retire Feb. 15 after more than three years at the helm of the group. She intends to travel more with her husband and spend more time with her three children and five grandchildren in the Pittsburgh region. Looking back, Balla deflected the praise and accolades showered on her by colleagues over the years. In an organization made up of so many people and components, being a part of THE CHAMBER is truly a team effort, she said. “It's about having a passion and commitment by board members, staff and our business members to take it to the next level, which is where we are today,” she said. Balla became the executive director of THE CHAMBER in October of 2009, only three months before the two chambers merged. It was a hectic period and remained so for quite some time, Balla said. But people eventually settled into their roles and began to flourish. But that doesn't mean the next director won't have some large shoes to fill. “We're always running here, always packing up and getting ready for the next event,” she said. “We have 245 events per year, so that's a lot to handle. It might take a while for the next person to get used to that beat.” Balla said she's proud of the legacy she'll leave behind in February. Under her guidance, THE CHAMBER started new programs to help women and veterans excel in business, among others. But she's most proud of an accomplishment that will stick with her for as long as THE CHAMBER is around. “The ability to take two separate cultures and merge them into one brand new culture, that took some vision and commitment from a lot of people,” she said. Before joining THE CHAMBER, Balla worked for 25 years as a business development officer for several financial institutions in the region.