Jim Dantona, a public sector leader with decades of experience in economic development, community building and political advocacy, will take the reins as Chamber president and CEO starting Jan. 2.

Dantona was selected through an extensive search process overseen by a CEO Search Committee and the Chamber Board of Directors.

“I am truly honored to join such an accomplished organization,” Dantona said. “I look forward to supporting and building on the solid foundations of this remarkable community, one my wife and I fell in love with many years ago.”

Dantona has worked as chief of staff for Los Angeles City Council member Nury Martinez since 2013, managing a district of about 275,000 residents and a diverse economy that includes Van Nuys Airport. He works closely with area chambers, business associations and other constituents on issues including business expansion, land use, water and housing affordability.

“We’re excited to welcome a CEO with such depth of experience in the political and economic development realm,” said Cheryl Cuming, chair of the search committee. “Jim is an energetic and engaging advocate who has earned a reputation as the ‘go-to guy,’ the one who brings people together to get things done.”

Dantona’s accomplishments include working with residents and community leaders to make strides on complex issues such as homelessness, a historic “zero waste” policy diverting trash to recycling and creating opportunities for new types of more affordable housing.

He’s also served at the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, as director of legislative affairs for an automated parking company and planning director for two Los Angeles City Council members. He holds a bachelor’s in government from Cal State Sacramento.

An additional factor in his selection, Cuming noted, is his familiarity with communities across San Luis Obispo County, having regularly visited family here for the past 20 years.

“Jim’s knowledge and admiration for the area make him a good fit personally as well as professionally,” Cuming said. “While he works in downtown LA, he and his wife Jennifer chose to live in a smaller community and are looking forward to the similar, close-knit atmosphere here.”

Dantona succeeds Ermina Karim, who stepped down in June after 10 years at the Chamber and seven as president/CEO. Leadership SLO Executive Director Sandi Sigurdson has served as interim CEO. Dantona’s official introduction to the community will come at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner Jan. 19.

“We’re thrilled that Jim’s arrival comes just as the Chamber will be releasing our updated economic vision, Imagine San Luis Obispo, in early 2019,” said Geri LaChance, Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and CEO of SESLOC Federal Credit Union. “We believe he is the right person to shepherd this collaborative vision of SLO’s future into reality.”