KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) The Kearney chamber of commerce Thursday named Derek Rusher as its new president. He replaces Max Kathol, who left the chamber in July 2017.
Rusher is president and CEO of Impact Art, a Kearney business that mentors artists and creates public art and murals in central Nebraska. He worked the past 10 years as a teacher at Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center’s West Kearney High School and previously taught in Kearney Public Schools and Wray School District RD-2 in Colorado.
“Derek is passionate about Kearney and Buffalo County businesses, and he brings the enthusiasm, knowledge and leadership needed to keep the chamber at the forefront of everything happening in our community,” said Todd Gottula, chamber board chairman. “He is impressive in many areas and has some exciting ideas to help our members grow and find new levels of success.”
Rusher’s career includes work as director of school programs for a Nebraska consulting company that offers team-building workshops, performance coaching and leadership development for organizations. He has also owned and operated entertainment and landscaping companies in Kearney.
In 2012 he was named employee of the year by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
“Leading the Kearney chamber is a very important responsibility, and I’m excited to represent our exceptional community and carry on the tradition of so many great leaders who came before me,” Rusher said. “Kearney is built on partnerships, and I’m focused on embracing and continuing to build on those relationships to strengthen the chamber.”
Rusher is a Leadership Kearney graduate and former member of the LK board. His community involvement also includes membership and volunteer work with Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska, Kearney Area Children’s Museum, Rowe Sanctuary, Knights of Columbus, Salvation Army, Rotary Club and many years coaching youth basketball.
“I believe these experiences will allow me to build a strong, positive culture at the chamber and be an effective leader and representative for our membership,” Rusher said. “The chamber is the front door to Kearney, and our members are the face of Kearney.
“The chamber will always listen to your needs, and I’m excited to hear ideas from members on what they think should be our focus.”
Rusher “has a deliberate vision” for the chamber and Kearney business community, said Jeff Hinrichs, past chair of the chamber board.
“Derek is a visionary with proven skills in strategic planning, writing business plans and leading a team,” Hinrichs said. “He is well-acquainted with leaders in Kearney, understands the business climate in our community and across Nebraska, and those strong relationships will enable him to move the chamber forward very effectively.”
Rusher has a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree from Hastings College and soon will receive his Master of Arts in Education from University of Nebraska at Kearney. Rusher and his wife, Meggie, have four children.
The Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce currently has more than 850 members and is one of the largest chambers in the state.