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Night of Champions Awards

MONTGOMERY, AL – On April 23, 2024, the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (Alabama Chambers) held its Night of Champions presented by AMEA during their 2024 Executive Leadership Conference at the Marriott Shoals in Florence, AL.


Nan Baldwin, IOM, was recognized as the 2024 Alabama Chamber Professional of the Year. Baldwin serves as Vice President, Chamber Operations for the Birmingham Business Alliance and has served the chamber and economic development professions for over 20 years. “Nan Baldwin is indeed worthy of this honor.  She has worked in the chamber industry since 2009 and in the Economic Development industry since 2003. She has demonstrated professionalism and exemplary leadership to the Birmingham community and the Birmingham Business Alliance as the VP-Regional Development and currently as the VP-Chamber Operations.  She is passionate about her work, and she possesses a continuing desire to advance the chamber profession and industry,” stated her nominator.  The Alabama Chamber Professional of the Year has been awarded since 2015 and recognizes the professional career achievements of the recipient.


Michelle Epling, president, of the Madison Chamber of Commerce was named Alabama Chamber Champion. Created in 2020, the Alabama Chamber Champion award recognizes an emerging leader with five or fewer years of professional service to the chamber industry Her nominator stated of Mrs. Epling, “Michelle is one of the most passionate, energetic, thoughtful, and committed individuals I have ever known. Her extensive and successful background in sales and training have proven invaluable in her role.  She has brought an unmatched level of professionalism to the Chamber. Her unique gifts of communication and connection are evident in her interactions.  People are drawn to her outgoing personality, and she finds great satisfaction in serving others. She is truly a Servant Leader.”

The Alabama Accredited Chamber Commerce program (AACC) was established in 2016 as one of the most prestigious programs of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. The AACC program sets standards of excellence for chambers in the State of Alabama. Additionally, the program promotes public awareness of the chamber of commerce brand as a community development, business membership organization.  The peer review process benchmarks chambers in six areas: Organization, Mission Focus, Professional Administration, Financial Management, Communications, and Advocacy.

There are currently 29 chambers that hold the AACC designation. This year, 8 chambers renewed their designation including Calhoun County Chamber & Visitors Center, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, Mobile Chamber, Opelika Chamber, Southwest Mobile County Chamber of Commerce, and The Shelby County Chamber. Four chambers earned their designation for the first time including Athens-Limestone County Chamber of Commerce, Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Madison Chamber of Commerce, and Millbrook Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Alabama Accredited Chamber Executive program (AACE) was established in 2015 to recognize the professional competence of chamber of commerce executives in the State of Alabama.  The AACE designation is based on experience, service to Alabama Chambers, training, continuing education, and professional achievement. AACE designation is intended to strengthen the career development objectives of chamber professionals while also providing personal recognition for their career accomplishments.

To date 20 chamber professionals have earned the designation including five in 2024 to include: Greg Alexander, Coastal Alabama Business Chamber; Erin Grantham, Enterprise Chamber of Commerce; Penelope Hines, Monroeville/Monroe Chamber of Commerce; Penny Hughey, Coastal Alabama Business Chamber; and Travis Valentine, South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce.

“The Night of Champions presented by AMEA is a wonderful occasion to celebrate and honor our chamber professionals. Each day the hundreds of professionals serving our chambers across this state pour into their communities and our entire state is better for it. Any recognition we can give to them is well deserved,” added Meredith Drennen, IOM, AACE and the 2024 Alabama Chambers chairwoman.

Since its beginning in 1937 as the Alabama Association of Commercial Organizations, what is now known as the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (Alabama Chambers) has remained dedicated to its mission of building stronger chambers across our state while advocating that chambers of commerce are the premier local business advocates in the State of Alabama. Through The Partnership with the Business Council of Alabama, a non-partisan organization, the two organizations represent the interests and concerns of over 1 million working Alabamians every day.

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