A Dynamic Duo Steps DownSep 17, 2020 10:49AM ● By Deborah Burstyn
Marcie Hochhauser and Jay Hoyer are married, but not to each other. They’ve shared a rare and successful professional partnership rooted in respect, hard work, and lots of laughs. “She’s been here much longer than I have, and she’s much older,” jests Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau President/CEO Jay Hoyer. Marcie Hochhauser, Executive Vice President, laughs. His joke is partly true. Marcie has been with the Chamber for 40 years and Jay for 30 years—uniting the Walnut Creek business community and moving the city forward.
“It’s very unusual in Chamber history to have a long-term working relationship like this. A lot of it is about vision and creativity,” says Jay. “We are very much in sync that way. We tend to have large visions of things we want to accomplish and work together on how to achieve those goals.”
While many were taken by surprise when the pair suddenly announced plans to retire this fall, given their history, it makes sense they would move on together. “Our relationship is built on mutual respect and admiration. Jay is so impressive; he has such great ideas,” says Marcie.
As a team, Marcie and Jay have made things happen, spearheading an impressive roster of Chamber-sponsored programs and events—the Art & Wine Festival, Leadership Contra Costa, and the East Bay Women’s Conference to name only a few. With an eye to the future, they worked with the hotel community and city officials to create the Walnut Creek Convention & Visitors Bureau and reinvigorated Shadelands Business Park with a team of property owners. “We have always looked ahead to what we can and should do next,” Marcie says.
When the Bay Area shut down six months ago due to COVID-19, like so many other organizations, business practices changed dramatically at the Chamber—social distancing, working from home, and small bubbles became the new normal while large events, in-person networking, and business gatherings faded further and further away.
“This crisis has speeded up change that was already coming in the business marketplace," says Jay. "It’s an opportunity to reimagine the organization and what it should be as we move into an uncertain future. We’ve created one of the best Chamber environments imaginable, I’m humbled that even during this pandemic, we’re seeing a 97% renewal rate on membership dues.”
Jay says an executive search committee, led by Chamber Chairman of the Board Matt Guichard, has formed to fill his position, a process he will not participate in. Marcie, on the other hand, will continue to lead the East Bay Women’s Conference committee in planning a virtual event for early March.
“We look at this leadership change as an opportunity, says Guichard, “let’s keep our programs intact but bring in someone with fresh vision and ideas to move us into the future. We’re going to build on the wonderful Chamber built by Marcie and Jay.”