Chamber announces new leadership, naming Swain as new president and CEO

Published 3:17 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announced the promotion of long time staff member Pam Swain as the chamber’s new president  and CEO after last week’s board meeting vote. Swain has been the chamber’s senior vice president for 21 years and, according to the board, was the natural choice for the position.  

Swain started with the chamber in October 2002, and has had the opportunity to watch the chamber grow and change throughout her tenure. Not only that, she has watched Oxford and Lafayette County grow by leaps and bounds, and says she loves being a part of this strong, successful community.  

Swain’s vision for the future of the chamber and engagement in the community is what seemed to make her the best person for the job. She has spent over two decades creating and cultivating relationships with the professionals and businesses of this community, which in turn is what makes the chamber so successful.  

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Jason Plunk, chamber chairman of the board and owner of Bullseye 95.5, said of the hiring of Swain: “We looked at hiring someone from outside who would take a year or two to grow the Chamber… or we could let Pam grow it from Day 1. It was a unanimous yay vote in favor of Pam from our board of directors.”  

Swain’s list of accomplishments during her tenure at the chamber include nearly doubling the membership from 400 to 750 members, taking the annual budget from $250,000 to over half a million in annual revenue raised, and tripling the amount of programs the chamber offers for members to plug in to.  

The most notable programming additions Swain has added to the chamber’s annual program of work include the LOU Ambassadors program, the Young Professionals of Oxford organization and the highly acclaimed Red Carpet Gala event. She has also grown the Double  Decker Spring Run from around 300 racers to close to 2,000.  

“Not many people know that the local chamber of commerce is a nonprofit and we are supported by only dues and sponsorships of events,” said Tony Deal, chamber chairman-elect and owner of Deals Auto Repair. “Having over half a million dollar budget in  a town our size speaks volumes to her leadership and connections to this community.”

City of Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said, “Pam Swain has been the face of the chamber for many years. Pam’s passion and enthusiasm for promoting Oxford’s business community is unmatched.” 

“Having worked alongside Pam [as a volunteer] for the last 10 years, I knew that nobody knew more about her dedication to the chamber than I did, and I knew she was the right person  for the job,” Plunk added. “In my mind, her dedication to the chamber all these years was the only interview we needed. We knew she was right for the job. Her [Swain] list of resume qualifications would fill a book and way more than could be mentioned in one interview. I would truly have trouble narrowing her list of  accomplishments down to a top 10.” 

Tannehill agreed. “Oxford’s thriving economy is the result of businesses and business owners who genuinely care about their community and look for ways to leave it better than they found it,” she said. “I’d put Pam at the top of the list of those who are constantly looking for ways to improve on the quality of life we all enjoy. I am so grateful for her service to the LOU community.”  

In looking at the future for the organization, Swain’s plans include continued growth in membership, with a goal of 800 members by next May, and an ultimate goal of 1,000 members throughout the next few years. She said she also wants the chamber to continue to be a relevant to its members, give the members even more networking and marketing opportunities, and get even more visibility for the chamber and its members. Within the next six months, Swain plans to launch a new member-to-member app, a new brand and logo for the chamber and a continuation of growing the events for the members. 

Swain shared that it has been a busy year leading up to this change. “Our total number  of events, including committee meetings, networking meetings and other meetings is well into over 3,000 in the past year,” she said. “With that many events, we estimate an impact in total attendees to close to 20,000 people.”  

With those numbers as a challenge, Swain intends to impact and gain more members through the work the chamber and its wonderful staff does. She said she is “blessed to work with such a dedicated team of people who share this vision of working so hard together each day” and her challenge is to continue to adapt and change with the times, as well as give each member what they need to grow.

Swain’s community involvement includes being a member of the Baptist Hospital Community Advisory Board, the United Way Board of Directors (where she was honored as Board  Member of the Year in 2019), serves on the Oxford Tourism Council Board, is a Leadership  Mississippi graduate, and is a member 0f the Mississippi Economic Development Council, the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and the Southern Public Relations Federation. 

As a parent of three boys in the Lafayette County schools, she knows the importance of a  great education system in a community. She has been honored by the Lafayette County School District as Parent of the Year five times in the past eight years, was president of the Lafayette  Endowment Fund for Education (LEFE) for eight years, chaired the Lafayette County School District Specialty License Plate Initiative in 2015 and also chaired the 93 percent yes voted Lafayette School  Bond Referendum Chair in 2018. 

Swain is married to Cory Swain and they have three boys, JP, 17, David, 14, and Jonesy, 11. 

The Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce is considered the most dynamic business organization in the community where businesses and professionals come together to work to improve the business climate and quality of life for this area. With more than 750 members, the  chamber strives to undertake programs and projects that seek a positive business climate conducive to growth of the private enterprise system, raising per capita income and providing strong financial, physical and human resources for the citizens of Oxford and Lafayette County. For more information on the Oxford Chamber go to