Charisse Bodisch is a Senior Vice President of Economic Development for the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Charisse is an experienced Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) specializing in the recruitment and expansion of companies to the Greater Austin, Texas Region. Charisse has over 27 years of experience in economic development and is able to provide all economic development services including assistance with site selection and guidance with potential incentives through local and state entities.

Prior to assuming this role, Charisse was a Vice President with the Austin Chamber, executive director and chief executive officer of the Allen Economic Development Corporation and also held a position as the vice president of marketing for the McKinney Economic Development Corporation.

Charisse holds a Bachelor degree from Kilgore College.

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Becca Hardin is the President at the Bay County Economic Development Alliance(EDA). Becca joined the Bay EDA in October, of 2014, as Senior Vice President and was named Interim President in November when it was announced that then Executive Director, Neal Wade, had accepted an opportunity with the University of Alabama.

Becca moved to Bay County from Columbus, Georgia where she gained over 14 years of experience in economic development, with 13 of those years as Executive Vice President of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Becca has a B.S. degree from Troy University with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations.

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Chris Camacho is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council where he manages the organizations domestic and international strategies to build a more diverse economy in Metropolitan Phoenix.

Prior to becoming President, Chris was the executive Vice President of business development where he oversaw business development efforts with particular expertise in renewable energy, emerging technology, tax policy and international economic development. Chris managed the domestic and international strategies in attracting new industry to the market.

Chris has held leadership roles in several strategic councils within the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Chris also served as president of the Arizona Association of Economic Development (AAED) and has been named Economic Developer of the Year. He is involved in community non-profits including Chicanos Por La Casa, and sits on the boards for the Arizona Business Education Coalition, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Valley of the Sun United Way and the International Economic Development Council.

Chris received his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University and his Masters in Public Administration, Public Policy, and Tax Analysis. Chris also obtained his Economic Development Certification from the University of Oklahoma.

Laura is the Director of Economic Development for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. Laura assists with prospects, research and business recruitment and retention.

Since joining the Metro Denver EDC, Laura has worked on a variety of office and industrial projects including Vestas, DaVita, Lockheed Martin, Fidelity, Ardent Mills and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company. Prior to joining the Metro Denver EDC, Laura was an Economic Development Specialist for the City of Lakewood for six years. While at Lakewood, Laura coordinated the creation of two urban renewal districts and the relocation of more than 50 businesses that were displaced by the $750 million Belmar redevelopment. Laura brings more than 30 years’ experience in economic development, community organization, and marketing to the Metro Denver EDC.

Laura received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville.

Holly Schroeder currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation (SCVEDC). Holly is responsible for overseeing all operations of the SCVEDC which provides an integrated approach to attracting, retaining and expanding a diversity of business and industry in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Prior to her current position, Holly was the Chief Executive Officer at Building Industry Association – Los Angeles/Ventura. Holly was responsible for all aspects of daily operations of the non-profit association in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Holly has been named as Santa Clarita Valley’s 51 Most Influential People for two years straight. Holly was also awarded the D. Gregg Brown Memorial President’s Award and the Executive Officer of the Year award by the Building Industry Association of Southern California. Holly has published articles in a wide variety of publications and is very active volunteering in her community.

Holly received her Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and French from St. Olaf College and her Masters of Science in interdisciplinary studies: applied information management from the University of Oregon.

Steven Johnson was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Missouri Partnership in April, 2015. Steve directs the Partnership’s marketing and business recruitment teams, working in close cooperation with the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the Hawthorne Foundation.

Prior to working with the Missouri Partnership, Steven led regional economic development initiatives in communities throughout the Midwest and Southeast. Most recently, he joined the St. Louis Regional Chamber in 2004 where he served as the Executive Vice President of Economic Development and Market Strategies. Steven previously served in leadership positions with the Kansas City Area Development Council, as well as chambers of commerce in Mobile, Alabama, and Jefferson City, Missouri, his hometown.

Steven received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harding University in Arkansas.

Christopher Chung joined the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) as chief executive officer. As a public-private partnership, the EDPNC performs a number of economic development functions on behalf of the State of North Carolina, including new business recruitment, existing business support, international trade and export assistance, small business start-up counseling, and tourism, sports, and film promotion. Chris has a staff of more than 60 professionals and an annual operating budget of $19 million and is focused on advancing the economic interests of North Carolina’s 100 counties and 10 million residents.

Prior to joining EDPNC, in 2007 Chris served the Missouri Partnership as the public-private, non-profit corporation’s first chief executive officer. In addition to leading the organization through its initial start-up phase, Chris directed the Partnership’s efforts to market Missouri for new business investment and recruit new corporate operations. During his tenure, the Missouri Partnership helped to recruit major facility investments by IBM, CertainTeed, Yanfeng Automotive Systems, Blue Buffalo Pet Foods, KWS Saat AG, and Aviation Technical Services. Chris also previously served as Manager of the State of Ohio’s Office of Business Development, managing an $80 million annual incentives budget and leading Ohio’s front-line sales force dedicated to attracting new business investment and job creation to the state. Prior to that, Chris held various positions in corporate site selection and special projects management, assisting companies considering Ohio for new facilities.

Chris was dubbed a “rising star” last year by Development Counsellors International, which named him among the industry’s “Top 40 Under 40.” In addition, Chris serves as a board of director for the International Economic Development Council and the North Carolina Economic Developers Association.

Chris holds a degree in economics and Japanese from The Ohio State University, where he also completed significant post-graduate course work towards a Master of Arts in public policy and Management from the OSU John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

Brien Thorstenberg is the Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Brien leads the effort for an 11 county region comprised of 29 regional partners in Northeast Oklahoma and works in close collaboration with the Workforce and Education Department of the Tulsa Regional Chamber to meet the workforce needs of the region’s targeted industries.

Prior to joining Tulsa Chamber, Brien was the Vice President of Economic Development where he was responsible for the successful management of all primary job creation and capital investment projects. Brien was the project lead on the successful recruitment of the Macy’s Order Fulfillment Center to Tulsa County. This project (the largest in the Tulsa Region since 2004) with a $170 million capital investment employed 1500 people in a $1.3 million state of the art fulfillment center.

Brien is involved in a number of statewide, regional and local economic development organizations: Oklahoma Governors Economic Development Marketing Team, Oklahoma Economic Development Council, Oklahoma Department of Commerce Foreign Direct Investment Team, Tulsa Futures Regional Partnership and Southeast Oklahoma Regional Economic Development.

Brien received his Bachelor of Science degree in management and economics from Oklahoma State University and his Masters of Business Administration in management from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Jeff Edwards is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUTAH) and has held this position for the past 10 years. Prior to joining EDCUTAH, Jeff was the Vice President of Client Services at the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.

Jeff was awarded CEO of the Year for a Non-Profit Company by the Utah Business Magazine. Jeff received his Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry from the University of Utah, where he also earned a Utah Secondary Teaching Certificate in Science.


Joe Max Higgins, Jr. is currently the Chief Executive Officer at the Golden Triangle Development Link. Joe is responsible for consolidated efforts of The Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development for Columbus-Lowndes County and directs the Economic Development Efforts for Oktibbeha and Clay Counties in Mississippi. Joe’s main responsibilities include organization of public/private partnerships that strategically position the community to take advantage of growth opportunities, financial management of an annual budget of 2.3 million dollars and the management of a staff of ten. During Joe’s tenure in Lowndes County, his efforts have resulted in the commitment and or creation of over 5,600 direct manufacturing jobs and over $4.4 billion in capital investment.

Prior to assuming this role, Joe was the Owner of the Higgins Group, where he operated a consulting company specializing in environmental, planning, community and economic development services. He also served as the Director of Economic Development and Chief Executive Officer of the Paragould Greene County Chamber of Commerce.

Joe was awarded the 40 Under 40 Arkansas Business, the National Rural Economic Developer Association Leadership Award (Economic Developer of the Year) and is very involved with professional organizations in his field.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography/urban and regional planning from Arkansas State University. Joe also attended the Community Development Institute at the University of Central Arkansas and the Institute for Organizational Management at the University of Notre Dame.