Trey Grayson unsure of future plans, but doesn't totally rule out a return to politics

06/05/2017 12:36 PM

FORT MITCHELL – Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who announced on May 30 that he is stepping down from his position as president and CEO on the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, isn’t sure what his next step will be, but hasn’t totally ruled out a return to politics one day.

Grayson, who has served in the role since July 1, 2014, originally said that he would probably spend five years at the chamber. However, Grayson felt that the timing was right to step aside now after three years.

“I felt like it was a pretty good time. We had a lot of accomplishments over the last couple of years. We had some vacancies that we were working on filling which we’ve now filled,” Grayson said. “We start on September 1 with our fiscal year, and ideally, if we can get all of this done correctly, I’ll be along for a little bit longer on the transition. We could have somebody, if the search goes well, in place by the beginning of our next fiscal year.”

While Grayson is not sure what his next moves will be, he admits that it appears that he will have a lot of choices.

“What’s been rewarding and flattering since I made the announcement on Tuesday is that other people have reached out to me and have said, ‘If you really are serious and don’t have something specifically lined up, let’s talk,’ “ Grayson said. “I’ve been taking down notes but I really haven’t had time because I’m still trying to focus on the next couple of weeks helping do a lot of transition in these next couple of weeks. But I’m looking forward to spending some time and having a lot of breakfasts, lunches, and coffees all across the region and picking people’s brains and seeing what’s out there, and seeing what’s next.”

Grayson was elected as the youngest secretary of state in the nation in November 2003 at the age of 31, and served in that role until January 2011 when he resigned to become the Director of the Harvard Institute on Politics. In 2010, Grayson ran unsuccessfully against Rand Paul in the U.S. Senate GOP primary, losing by a 23-percent margin.

Although Grayson says that a return to politics is unlikely, at least in the near future, he doesn’t totally rule that possibility out one day.

“Sometime in the future, maybe. I enjoyed that opportunity. I got to win two races,” Grayson said. “If the opportunity presented itself, I might want to do that, but one of the things I’ve learned in my post-elected career, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of things in my community through volunteer work, or through my actual jobs without having been an elected official.”

Grayson will officially step down from his role on June 9 but will continue to serve the organization in an advisory capacity for the following couple of months until he decides his next move.

A nationwide search is underway for Grayson’s replacement.

In the meantime, Brent Cooper, president and CEO of C-Forward, an IT services company, will serve as interim president.

The chamber will conduct a national search to replace Grayson, which is expected to take several months. Cooper served as chamber chair in 2011-12 and as interim president of the organization when Steve Stevens resigned as president in 2014. Cooper has agreed to take a temporary leave of absence from C-Forward while he serves as interim president of the chamber.

“There will be a lot of competition for this role. This is a key role for the region,” Cooper said. “Because we have so much diversity in Northern Kentucky, there’s so many cities and counties involved, we need a chamber of commerce to be the convener and so that will attract a lot of really good candidates and we’re looking forward to talking with them.”

Cooper credits Grayson with helping draw additional businesses to the region during his tenure.

“He helped lead the way on the most successful advocacy effort that I can remember in Northern Kentucky business community history,” Cooper said. “We accomplished a lot of goals, a lot of which had been chamber priorities for a long time, finally became law, and Trey was a big part of leading that effort.”


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