Making a difference Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2010
Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year Award

Although Sean Rugless has only been president of the African American Chamber — Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky for two years, he has already had a tremendous impact on the community.

The chamber, which was formed in 1996 by a group of African-American business owners and citizens, aims to establish, cultivate and strengthen consumer and business relationships; provide access to major corporate markets for its members to help increase business opportunities; and assist in developing strategic partnerships and alliances for the purpose of strengthening and growing the business community. The group’s vision and commitment have resulted in significant regional contributions and a consistent voice for minority business inclusion for all sectors of the regional economy.

Under the direction of Rugless, the chamber’s staff and board are building on the region’s rich history and revitalizing its approach to better prepare businesses for opportunities in an ever-changing regional environment. Its charge is to develop new market opportunities, improve access to capital and accelerate economic growth for established and emerging African-American businesses.

The chamber has grown to be one of the largest African-American chambers in Ohio and is as committed to inclusion as it is to business development, and it is as focused on advocacy as it is on building capacity.

With Rugless at the helm, the chamber, its board, team and members are able to leverage regional partnerships and collaboration with organizations and supplier diversity and inclusion experts to empower African-American-owned businesses to succeed.

Rugless, who formerly served as president of the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network, sees his position as a way to positively impact the region, leveraging professional and corporate capabilities in a way that supports the tenets of diversity in the region. In his role, he seeks balance between his passion for strategy and business building with his commitment to the community.

In addition to his work at the chamber, Rugless was recently named board chair of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. He had served on the board for more than two years and previously served as chair of SORTA’s Planning & Development and Issues Committee.

How to reach: African American Chamber — Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, (513) 751-9900 or