Joe Reardon, the former mayor and CEO of the Unified Goverment of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., will take the top job at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in the first quarter of 2016.
Reardon, who for the last year has been president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, will succeed Jim Heeter as the metropolitan chamber’s president and CEO, as The Star reported Tuesday. The chamber and KCATA confirmed the change Wednesday.
Heeter announced earlier this year that he intended to retire Dec. 31, but he has agreed to stay on until Reardon is able to make the transition.
“We at the KC Chamber are very excited to have Joe Reardon as our new CEO,” said chamber chairman Terry Bassham, who headed the search committee. “Joe’s proven leadership, strategic skills and commitment to regional Kansas City will help guide the chamber’s continued and future success.”
Bassham, CEO of Kansas City Power & Light, said hiring the chamber’s new CEO was one of the most important tasks for his term of service, and he thanked Heeter for his assistance during the search. Bassham said members of the chamber’s executive and search committees were “very impressed with the deep pool of diverse and experienced talent that applied for the position.”
“I couldn’t be happier with the selection of Joe Reardon to lead the chamber,” Heeter said. “His established record as a leader combined with his regional perspective will make him an outstanding servant leader for the chamber and our greater Kansas City community.”
Reardon said his former positions have helped solidify his belief that the metro area “stands at a truly significant moment in time as our reputation as a place for innovation and business creativity has reached new heights.” He said he intends to work on “maintaining a coordinated vision and strategy that grows all of Kansas City” and makes the area more competitive with other regions.
KCATA board chairman Robbie Makinen, who will succeed Reardon at the ATA as interim president and CEO, said the chamber made “an excellent choice” in selecting Reardon.
Reardon led the Unified Government from 2005 to 2013, a time when the county gained Google Fiber, Sporting Park soccer stadium and the expansion of Cerner Corp. He is a graduate of Rockhurst University and the University of Kansas Law School. He previously practiced law with the Kansas-side firm McAnany Van Cleave & Phillips PA.
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders appointed Makinen to the ATA board in 2007, and he has been chairman since 2010.
In recent years, he has pushed to make the ATA more of a force in both transportation and development across the metro area. He has worked to correct the widely held misconception that the ATA was merely an agency of Kansas City government. In fact, he says, it is a bistate authority, created by Congress, that provides bus service for Kansas City and manages the bus services in Johnson County and Independence.
Makinen said the ATA has broad powers that he would like to be put to better use as far as running transit systems and developing property. Conceivably, he said, the ATA could even run Kansas City International Airport, if that was the wish of the community.
Makinen now is director of intergovernmental affairs and economic development for Jackson County and was the county’s economic development director before that. Sam Desue will continue as the ATA’s chief of operations.