Amanda Payne Named Future President & CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance

The Waukesha County Business Alliance Board of Directors unanimously voted Amanda Payne as President & CEO of the Alliance, effective July 1, 2024. Amanda will succeed Suzanne Kelley when she retires from the Alliance on June 30, 2024 after 14 years of transformative leadership at the organization.  

Amanda’s succession represents a planned, seamless transition in leadership, ensuring continuity and continued success for the Alliance and its members. Her strategic vision and dedication to serving the business community position her as an ideal leader to guide the Alliance into its next chapter.

Under Suzanne’s leadership, the Alliance has experienced remarkable growth and success, leaving a lasting mark on the business community in Southeast Wisconsin. Suzanne joined the Alliance in September of 2009 when it was known as the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce. Within a year, she led the Chamber to merge with the Waukesha County Action Network to create the Alliance, which is focused on driving economic growth in Waukesha County and providing a strong voice for business. Under Suzanne’s guidance, the Alliance has undoubtedly thrived. In the last 14 years, the Alliance has launched multiple employer collaboratives, including the Manufacturing Alliance of Southeastern Wisconsin, the Waukesha County Construction Alliance and a nonprofit Alliance. The Alliance also worked hand-in-hand with Waukesha County and business and municipal leaders to launch the Waukesha County Center for Growth, the county’s economic development organization. The creation of the entity involved multiple stakeholders and key partners, who came together under Suzanne’s leadership. The Alliance has also become one of the leading organizations in the state when it comes to workforce, talent and business education partnerships. The Alliance membership continues to grow and now marks 1,200 members.

With a background in government affairs, Suzanne led the Alliance to increase its advocacy work and had an impact on several key issues such as Lake Michigan water for the City of Waukesha, completion of the West Waukesha bypass, funding to improve the safety of I-94 in Southeast Wisconsin, enhanced technical education funding, enactment of the state’s manufacturing and agricultural tax credits, expansion of the Alliance’s business education programming, elevated conversations around workforce housing, and support of innovative transportation solutions.

Named among the 2021 Women of Distinction by the Women and Girls Fund of Waukesha County and the 2013 Women of Influence by the Milwaukee Business Journal, Suzanne is active in several community organizations. She served as a 2015 Campaign Co-Chair for United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and served on the United Way Board of Directors. She also served on the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) Board of Directors and the Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executives (WCCE) Advisory Board.

Prior to joining the Alliance, Suzanne enjoyed a 23-year career in government relations for GE. As Regional Manager of Corporate Government Relations, she managed GE’s legislative and public affairs activities in a 12-state region and represented the company on a broad range of issues before state and local governments.

“It has been an absolute privilege to serve as the President & CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance,” said Suzanne. “I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together during my time here and am grateful for the support of our members, partners, and the community.”

Succeeding Suzanne as President & CEO is the Alliance’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy Amanda Payne. Amanda joined the Alliance in 2012 and has a strong background in manufacturing and public policy. She has been actively involved in leading the Alliance’s marketing, membership, sponsorship, manufacturing, talent and lobbying efforts. Amanda is known as a regional leader in advocating for the business community, fostering strong relationships with businesses, and driving business growth.

In her 10+ years at the Alliance, Amanda has played a key role in transforming the Alliance’s advocacy work, getting local business leaders engaged in the public policy process and ensuring the voice of business is heard on critical issues. She also led the Alliance through the process of becoming a registered lobbying entity to further grow its platform as a voice for the business community. Amanda currently leads the Manufacturing Alliance of Southeast Wisconsin and oversees the Alliance’s Economic Development Policy Committee, Infrastructure Policy Committee, and Policy Board.

Amanda is a Wisconsin native and received her bachelor’s degree from Butler University. She was recognized as a 40 Under 40 award winner by the Milwaukee Business Journal and “People to Know in Manufacturing.” She and her husband live in Waukesha with their three children.

“I am incredibly honored to serve as the next leader of the Waukesha County Business Alliance. For the last decade, I have been proud to work across nearly every aspect of the Alliance. I believe wholeheartedly in our mission. I am deeply passionate about Waukesha County, a place my family has called home for six generations. Most of all, I am inspired by our members and committed to building upon the Alliance’s 105-year legacy of driving economic growth,” said Amanda.

“Suzanne has been a driving force in making our region a place for businesses to thrive. It has been an honor to serve beside her on the board of directors,” states Mark Sobczak, Wisconsin Market Leader at Sikich and Waukesha County Business Alliance Board Chair. “Looking forward, we are excited to welcome Amanda into her new role. Her leadership, 10+ years of chamber experience and commitment to excellence make her the ideal candidate to lead the Alliance forward.”

“Suzanne stepped into her role with a vision to build the Alliance into the business engine for the County. She helped merge two organizations into a regional leader for businesses throughout southeast Wisconsin. If mom (the late Margaret Farrow, former Lt. Gov. and longtime community leader) were here today, she would agree that Suzanne was the change maker needed to create this organization. I want to thank her for all she has done to truly help Waukesha County lead the way,” states Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. “As Amanda prepares to step into this new role, I am confident she will be the guiding force the Alliance can follow to keep us at the forefront of business growth and advocacy.  I look forward to working with her in the years to come.”


About the Waukesha County Business Alliance
Waukesha County Business Alliance is a countywide chamber of commerce with over 1,200 member companies, representing 75,000+ employees. The mission of the Alliance is to drive economic growth in Waukesha County. We work to strengthen the economy in the county by advocating on behalf of the business community, developing organizations and their employees, building relationships built on integrity and trust, and growing the business community to keep our economy moving forward.

Share on Social Media

Recent News

Sign up for newsletter updates

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We would love to hear from your. Please reach out with any questions.