A search committee of the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce will begin interviewing candidates for a new president/CEO as early as next week.

The search committee includes the Chamber’s executive board — immediate past Chairman Bob Jones, current Chairman Joe Schneider, first vice chair Jon Bauer, second vice chair Rich Deppe, Tom Holdmeier and Mike Marquart.

Others on the committee are Julie Scannell, a past chairman, Al Behr, Washington Fair chairman, and Tourism Director Mary Beth Rettke.

Mark Wessels, current president/CEO, announced in July he planned to retire after the first of the year. Wessels also is serving on the search committee.

The committee met Thursday to review applications and narrow the field. They agreed to interview four candidates next week if schedules can be arranged, Wessels told The Missourian.

Committee members also agreed that applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled, he said. The deadline initially was posted as Oct. 1.

“We’ve received about 12 resumes to date,” said Wessels, adding the four prospective candidates either live in the general area or have ties to the area.

A second round of interviews may be needed, he said, and possible dates for those meetings have been tentatively set.

“The committee still hopes to have someone selected by the end of October so we can introduce our new president at the Nov. 1 breakfast meeting for members,” said Wessels, who has agreed to stay on as long as necessary during the transition.

Wessels, 65, has been with the Chamber nearly 10 years. He initially was hired as tourism director in April 2005, a position he held until being named Chamber president/CEO in March of 2008.

The president serves as the chief administrative and executive officer for not only the Chamber, but also the Washington Town and Country Fair, Washington License office and tourism department.

Among the qualifications listed in the job description are a bachelor’s degree; strong writing and communication skills; minimum of five years’ management experience; demonstrated success in nonprofit or professional business environment; willingness to travel and work an extended schedule; and minimum three to five years’ active involvement in the community or civic organization.

When Wessels was hired, there were a total of 21 applicants for the job and the committee narrowed the pool to six to be interviewed, but one person declined.

The Washington Chamber has 560-plus members and is the second-largest, budgeted Chamber in the St. Louis Metro area.

The full job description for the Chamber president position can be found at www.washmo.org.