Erin K. Flynn is the new president and CEO of the Business Council of Fairfield County, succeeding Chris Bruhl, who held that position for 30 years.
Bruhl, 72, is retiring at the end of January.
Flynn’s experience in economic and community development includes four years as urban development director at the Portland (Oregon) Development Commission; seven years as associate vice president, strategic partnerships at Portland State University; four years as board chair of the Oregon Innovation Council; and, most recently, founding board chair and interim executive director of the two-year-old Portland Innovation Quadrant.
The latter is a public-private partnership aimed at growing Portland and Oregon’s innovation economy. It is considered a key component of the City of Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan, designed to guide how and where land is developed and infrastructure projects are built to prepare for and respond to population and job growth.
Prior to Portland, Flynn spent a decade working as a national consultant and was vice president of FutureWorks, a consulting firm based in Boston. At FutureWorks she served clients throughout the nation with a particular focus on the role of business-civic leadership organizations in regional growth and development.
Although the news of Bruhl’s retirement and Flynn’s appointment appeared to be sudden, Darrell Harvey, search committee co-chair and and co-CEO, The Ashforth Co., said the process had actually begun last summer.
“We also mentioned (Bruhl’s retirement) at one of our events last fall,” Harvey said. “We just didn’t do a big announcement about it.”
Harvey said that Flynn’s name had coincidentally come up during the process by both an independent consultant and management consulting firm Korn Ferry. Her wide-ranging experience, as well as her familiarity with the Northeast, made her a top choice, he said.
“We feel very lucky to get her coming back here,” he said. “She has tremendously broad experience working within all of the priority areas that the Business Council focuses on.”
Harvey estimated that the Business Council’s initial round of interviews involved about 35 candidates from around the country.
“After completing a nationwide executive search, Erin’s leadership in public-private partnerships driving innovation and economic and workforce development made her an ideal choice to lead The Business Council of Fairfield County as it enters its sixth decade,” said James Fitzgerald, chairman of the organization’s board of directors.
“This is an exciting moment,” Bruhl said. “I am delighted that a proven, creative, collaborative leader has accepted the opportunity to take a great organization to an even higher level of excellence.”
“Every metro region is challenged to accelerate coordinated efforts to compete in the global economy,” Flynn remarked. “With its proximity to New York City, highly skilled workforce and quickly urbanizing landscape, I believe Fairfield County is extraordinarily well positioned for the decade ahead.”