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NAPA – On Nov. 13 Lisa Batto was selected by the Napa Chamber of Commerce board of directors to replace Kate King as president and CEO. Ms. King, who with her husband is returning to Texas, retired the same day.

"We considered going through a formal RFP process," said Mike Silvas, president and CEO of Morgan Lane Real Estate and outgoing chairman of the Napa Chamber board, "but the chamber was running so smoothly, with so many initiatives already led by Lisa, that we had no reason to look farther.

"The staff was completely behind her; Kate hand-picked and trained her; and she's proven her leadership in the community. Who could be better?"

Ms. Batto, 44, is a six-year employee of the chamber, serving the last three as executive vice president. She's a graduate of the Western Association of Chamber Executives' Academy, a three-year accreditation program. Ms. Batto was the first to attend before being a CEO.

She is also the 2009 president-elect of the Superior Chamber Executives and was elected to the board of the Napa Kiwanis Club after only a two-year membership, a rare occurrence.

Business Journal: What do you see as the primary aim of the Napa chamber regarding the business community?  

Ms. Batto: The Napa Chamber is committed to building a strong local economy. We do this by providing opportunities for our members to connect; promoting our community to visitors and residents; supporting a sustainable future; representing our businesses' concerns about local, regional, state and federal issues to government; and engaging in political action.

Business Journal: What particular challenges are you eager to tackle?

Ms. Batto: It is always a challenge to keep your organization top of mind in the community and with member businesses. At the Napa Chamber, we have a dedicated staff that is always scanning the horizon for new opportunities to help our members stay strong by improving benefits of membership. We are fortunate to have a strong board of directors to plan for the future of our organization.

Business Journal: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of doing business in Napa?

Ms. Batto: Small and larger employers are having a difficult time finding and keeping a qualified work force. The Napa Chamber has partnered with Workforce Napa to help our business community remain strong during this time of economic uncertainty. We work to bring our members information about Workforce Napa programs, such as on-the-job training, which provides the opportunity for the employer to hire and train a worker on the job. The employer can be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the employee’s gross wages for up to three months to help defray the cost of training.

Business Journal: How will you bring your personal stamp to bear on the chamber during your tenure? Are there any changes you would like to effect?

 Ms. Batto: My goal is to continue the success of the Napa CShamber as a strong organization that contributes to the economic vitality of our community.

Prior to the chamber, I worked in a variety of jobs from administration to professional photographer. When I came to the chamber, I found a place where I could finally put to use all of my creative skills.