Sunday, February 28, 2021
Feb. 28, 2021

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Vancouver Business Journal publisher named chamber CEO

By , Columbian Business Editor

John McDonagh, publisher and co-owner of the Vancouver Business Journal, has been appointed president and chief executive officer of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

McDonagh served as the interim president and CEO starting in December and only recently put his hat in the rink after earlier stating that he had no interest in the permanent job. He assumed the position April 1.

He replaces Kelly Love, who resigned in November to accept a community relations job at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center.

McDonagh worked nearly 26 years for The Columbian, including 13 as vice president for marketing and advertising, before leaving in 2001 to help launch the Portland Tribune. In 2004 he and his brother Steve McDonagh bought the weekly Vancouver Business Journal with a small group of investors.

McDonagh said he was approached last year to apply for the CEO job but told the chamber he wasn’t interested. The chamber’s board then asked if he would serve in an interim capacity. He said he only became interested in recent weeks after the board had interviewed three finalists. Among those finalists, “nobody bubbled to the top,” said Eric Olmsted, chairman of the chamber’s board.

McDonagh said his brother will assume more leadership at the newspaper while he pulls back to an “oversight” role. Because he functions neither as an editor or reporter, he said he sees no conflict between his roles as a business promotor and part-owner of a business newspaper.

At the chamber, McDonagh said he is inheriting an organization that’s in good health. He said his priority is continuing and expanding successful programs and “strengthening relationships with other chambers of commerce and business organizations and seeing if there isn’t a way to rally the business community.”

Olmsted said McDonagh’s long support for business and community activities, as well as his business and political background, made him an “ideal choice” for the job.

“John knows a lot of people and is well known by a lot of people,” Olmsted said. He said that as interim CEO, McDonagh “has done a phenomenal job and the staff is very excited. So many things fell into place all at once.”

The chamber represents more than 1,000 business members in Southwest Washington. It has nine employees. The chamber did not disclose McDonagh’s salary.

McDonagh has been an active community volunteer in organizations including the Clark County Fair Association, the Greater Clark County and Vancouver Rotary clubs, the Columbia River Economic Development Council, and the School of Piano Technology for the Blind.

The Vancouver Business Journal has produced the Boardroom Breakfast Series, the Business Growth Awards, Top Projects, Accomplished & Under 40 and North Bank Magazine.

He and his wife, Anne, have lived in Vancouver since 1975 and have three grown daughters.