Ken Oplinger, who has served as president and CEO of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry since October 2003, has announced he plans to leave the organization at the end of May to take over as the president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Oplinger’s final day will be May 29, which will allow him to lead the Chamber thorough the upcoming Blossomtime Grand Parade, the Junior Ski to Sea Race and the Junior Ski to Sea Parade.
In addition to his role at the Chamber, Oplinger has also served for six years on the Planning Commission in Blaine, and was elected to the Blaine City Council in 2011.
Oplinger will continue to host his Sunday morning KGMI radio show, “The Whatcom Report,” until his departure. The Chamber and KGMI are in discussions over the future of the show.
In an annoucement of his departure, the Chamber highlighted Oplinger’s contributions to the organization, including his role in the creation of new events such as the Annual Awards Banquet and the Spring Business Showcase.
During his time at the helm of the Chamber, Oplinger has supported a variety of initiatives to bolster cross-border commerce between Whatcom County and British Columbia. In the past couple of years, he has also been among the local advocates who favor the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point.
The Chamber has not yet indicated if plans are in place to find a successor as president and CEO.
“We have a great staff to carry on the important work of the Chamber as Ken moves to his new position,” said Peter Cutbill of Whidbey Island Bank, the treasurer of the Chamber’s board, in a press release. “Our board will develop a transition plan in the next few weeks to make sure our programs and events go on as planned. We want to express our appreciation for all that Ken has done over these many years and know that he will bring great benefit to his new community.”