The Prince William Chamber of Commerce Announces New President/CEO

MANASSAS, VA — The Prince William Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Robert (Bob) Sweeney has been selected as the Chamber’s new President & CEO. Sweeney is a successful businessman, entrepreneur, educational leader, and seasoned non-profit executive. Over the course of his career, he has built nonprofit organizations from the ground up, partnered with regional economic development professionals to help attract specific targeted projects, and is a skilled negotiator and analyst with sponsorship, member development, event management and policy creation experience. He has thrived in the business arena in the Greater Washington area. He has more than twenty years of corporate leadership experience and has a solid track record of pro-business advocacy and management for several high-profile nonprofit organizations.

On October 20, 2022, the Chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve Sweeney for the position after a transition committee made up of members of the Chamber’s board conducted an extensive nationwide search. Gayle Whitlock and Kathie Johnson, both past-chairs of the Chamber served as co-chairs of the executive search committee. The Chamber retained Anissa Starnes with YGM Total Resource Campaigns, LLC, to provide management and oversight for the national search. YGM specializes in executive searches for chambers of commerce. Sweeney will officially begin work on November 10, 2022.

Sweeney currently serves as the Director of Corporate Partnerships with the Kogod School of Business at American University. He previously served as an Executive in Residence and Strategic Advisor to the Dean at the School of Business.

Sweeney was instrumental in the Amazon HQ2 initiative as he produced the regional overview and coordinated the State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia through the bid data assimilation process which led the local economic development teams to submit fifteen sites in the Greater Washington region for Amazon’s new headquarters, ultimately landing in Arlington County, Virginia. He also served as Managing Director for Global Cities Initiative and was President & Founding CEO of DC2024, Greater Washington’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games where he led a 4-year effort and helped raise over $5 Million through business and philanthropic support.

Sweeney was also the first-ever President & CEO of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance. He built a prominent board of directors, developed the Alliance mission, created the Sports Collaborative, a 501(C)3 to nurture and grow fledgling youth investment organizations in the sports arena, and molded the Sports Alliance to be a critical organization in Washington’s business community.  Earlier in his career he also served as Vice President for the Greater Washington Board of Trade and was employed with Arlington County in their Economic Development department.

Co-Chair of the search committee, Gayle Whitlock, said, “We received a large number of qualified candidates in the nationwide search. Among those candidates, Bob Sweeney was the ideal choice. He brings decades of diverse experience in working with organizations dedicated to moving communities and individuals forward. With his exceptional background and experience, he is uniquely positioned to represent every business in the Prince William region.”

Rick Nishanian, Chair of the Board of Directors stated, “We are pleased to have someone of Bob’s caliber to lead our Chamber into the future. We welcome Bob to the Prince William region and feel that his leadership and passion for our area and our business community along with his high level of energy will complement the Chamber’s program of work and take us to the next level. Bob is an experienced collaborator, nonprofit professional, consummate networker, and a proven leader.” 

As the Chamber’s President & CEO, Sweeney will oversee the staff and will report to the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. The President & CEO is responsible for providing overall leadership and management to the membership, board, staff, and volunteers in executing the respective missions of the Chamber organizations, along with financial management, marketing, membership development and fundraising, and overall office operations. The President & CEO implements the annual business plan to meet the objectives of the approved Strategic Plan.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Prince William Chamber,” said Sweeney. “I feel as if my entire career trajectory has led me to this position. It has long been a goal of mine to lead a local chamber of commerce and what better place to do it than in Prince William County. The Chamber’s work is vital to the region’s business community and economic development, and I look forward to working with the Chamber’s board, members, volunteers, and staff to grow the organization and to promote the community and ensure the livelihood of local businesses in the region. It is a critical time right now for businesses of all sizes, and the Chamber is the lead resource for those businesses, and I look forward to getting to work alongside the Board and great staff at the Chamber.”

Sweeney is a graduate of West Virginia University with degrees in history and philosophy. When he is not working, he enjoys relaxing at the lake, hiking, playing golf and volunteering for Scouts BSA. He serves on multiple boards including the boards of Louisa Forward Foundation and Center for International Sports Leadership.

Sweeney will succeed Debbie Jones, who announced her retirement in April of this year. Jones has been with the Chamber for more than 32 years. She has served as the President & CEO of the Chamber since July of 2014. She has led the business member organization through a period of significant transition, growth, and success. Jones will work with Sweeney for several weeks to ensure a smooth transition in the position before Jones retires on December 31, 2022.

About the Prince William Chamber of Commerce

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce is a 501(C)6 organization (  through which the voluntary labor of our community works effectively to make the Northern Virginia region a better place to live, work and play. The Chamber is organized for the purpose of advancing the positive business growth and development of Prince William County, the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. It encourages the growth of existing industries and businesses, while giving all proper assistance to any new businesses looking to locate in Prince William County. The Chamber strives to support all activities believed to be beneficial to connecting its’ members to the business community, and in general seeks to enhance the standard of living for area citizens, looking to accomplish the greatest good for the economy. The Chamber currently has more than 1,150 member businesses and organizations who employ more than 70,000 people in our community.

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If you would like more information, please contact Rick Nishanian, Board Chair at

Photo, Headshot of Robert Sweeney, President and CEO, Prince William Chamber of Commerce