Evolution: Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Doug Evans

Doug Evans with Jessica Simpson
Doug Evans with Jessica Simpson
Courtesy Doug Evans

Douglas Evans has a new and exciting position as president and CEO at the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce. Evans is a dynamic force, personality, business leader and charismatic public speaker, as well as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

He will be merging his wide range and varied professional experiences with his normal enthusiasm and passion to his position with the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce. His impressive career and zeal for life reminds of something Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends.”

So, this exciting new chapter caps a brilliant career with a varied, yet familiar through line of personality, brains, talent, passion and a genuine interest in life and all of those around him. Past professional roles include president of Broadway China Ventures at Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment; chief development, marketing and communications officer at the Pérez Art Museum Miami; chief executive officer at the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund; as well as chief executive officer at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Connecticut.

The obvious thread here are roles such as president, CEO, executive officer and chief. In our interview, I asked Evans …

How or what prepared you to be a leader of this magnitude, and what advice would you give to young people in business?

It’s all about being in the moment and telling yourself, “How hard can it be?” In every situation in my career when presented with an opportunity, not a challenge or problem, I approach it with that statement and attitude. It’s also about admitting when you don’t know something and finding out the answer from someone who does, or collaboration.

Another aspect of your personality is your dynamic public speaking skills which I recently witnessed at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast this past month. What is the secret to your ability to leave an audience utterly spellbound?

It’s pretty simple, well to me it is. Know your audience before you walk in and be conversant about your subject and presentation. I’m always prepared to speak to a group at a moment’s notice and throughout my career, it has happened many, many times. And if you ever have a chance to do media training, especially early in your career, it’s the best investment you will ever make!

You also broke through barriers as an out and proud gay man 30 years ago, when doing so could have been detrimental to your career. How did you break through barriers and not just survive in those days but thrive and become a leader? And what advice would you give LGBTQ+ people to assist in their careers and passion?

I never thought of myself as being an out gay man, but just me, just who I am and my convictions. Quite frankly, if you don’t like me, too bad. In my business dealings, I never put forward my personal life. I have always known how to separate the two. I always assumed that if the people I had the chance to meet would take me at face value, and for my expertise in what I was doing, then they would be pleasantly surprised. I connect with new people based on the situation and find a way to connect. I almost always find a way to do this. I’ve had to deal with some tough characters, and if they ever tried to veer into an inappropriate space, I steered it right back. I learned to always be the best version of myself, and the rest is history!

Finally, what is your vision and direction for the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce?

This is perhaps one of the most dynamic times, not only in Palm Beach, but the entire metropolitan area. The number of different people and amount of resources that come to our area, which totaled $30 billion alone in the past two years, means we need to create a mosaic of opportunities and solutions for all comers. If we approach the way we do business at the chamber for our members, then they and we will be successful.

For more information about the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, visit palmbeachchamber.com

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