Published in Economic Development

Gaasch to retire after 23 years as Grand Haven chamber of commerce president

BY Wednesday, February 08, 2023 10:52am

GRAND HAVEN — Joy Gaasch, president of the chamber of commerce in Grand Haven, plans to retire later this year after 23 years in the position.

Gaasch by Sept. 30 will leave the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, where she’s served as president since May 2000. She previously was president of the Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce for five years.


“This was a decision that was not an easy one to make as my passion is the economic and civic vitality of Northwest Ottawa County, but I know this is the right time,” Gaasch, 76, said today in an announcement.

“I am passionate and optimistic about the future of The Chamber and this wonderful community, and I know I will find my voice as I settle into some new adventure,” she said. “It’s time that someone else comes in and takes over an amazing organization and continues all of the good work that the staff and the board has provided me the opportunity to be involved in.”

The Chamber by early summer hopes to complete a search and hire a new president who would work alongside Gaasch for an interim period until her retirement, she said.

This will ensure a smooth leadership transition and continuity and allow the new president to “have the tools and connections so they can hit the ground running,” Gaasch said in an interview.

“In a community this size, it’s important that when someone comes into a job that you get connected as quickly as possible, and the best way to get connected is to know somebody and work with somebody who is already connected. That transition is really important to help folks know where they can go to get support, to get information, to get things done,” Gaasch told MiBiz. “It really can help that transition be a really smooth, seamless transition.”

During her time at the Chamber, Gaasch has served on several boards that include Ottawa County’s Workforce Development Board, Leadership West Michigan, West Michigan Strategic Alliance, the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival and the former North Ottawa Community Health System that’s now part of Trinity Health. She presently serves on the Trinity Health Muskegon board of directors.

“During her time as president, Joy has led us through the good times and the hard times with energy, enthusiasm, optimism and confidence in our Northwest Ottawa County business community. She has been a connector, cheerleader, and good friend to businesses and organizations both large and small,” Sharon Behm, chairperson of the Chamber’s board, said in a statement.

Gaash is the second chamber of commerce leader in the lakeshore market to retire within the last year. Jane Clark retired last summer after 18 years as president of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce in Holland. Jodi Owczarski succeeded her as president.

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