Ken Oplinger currently serves as the President/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region, where he has been since May 2013. He has been leading Chambers of Commerce in the Western US for over 26 years.
Ken is a graduate of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, where he received a BA in Political Science and Spanish. Ken is also a graduate of the Institute for Organizational Management at UCLA. He is a Past President of SUPERCHEX, the Chamber Executives organization representing Northern California Chamber Executives and served as the Chairman of the Board of WACE, the Western Association of Chamber Executives, in 2006. Ken is an Accredited Chamber Executive, having received his accreditation in February 2003 from WACE, and was reaccredited in 2008, 2013 and 2018. Ken’s leadership on the BESTT Coalition (Business for Economic Security, Tourism and Trade), a bi-national coalition of business and industry concerned about the affects of implementing the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) on the Canada/US Border, led to the creation of the Enhanced Drivers License program.
As the President of the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region, Ken serves as the Chief Executive Officer for a Chamber with a membership of some 800 businesses and non-profits, representing over 250,000 people and over 50,000 jobs. The Santa Barbara Region Chamber is a leader in creating a strong local economy, promoting the community, providing networking opportunities and representing the interests of business with government.
Originally from Tempe, Arizona, Ken, his wife Diana and their daughter, Rachel, have lived in the Oxnard Shores neighborhood for the past five years. Ken not only served as the President/CEO of the Bellingham/Whatcom (WA) Chamber of Commerce & Industry, but he also served on the Planning Commission for the City of Blaine, Washington for six years, three as the chair, and served as an elected member of the Blaine City Council until returning to California. He currently serves as the Chair of the Workforce Development Board of Santa Barbara County, and was recently selected as the first chair of the Citizens Oversight Committee for Santa Barbara's infrastructure sales tax. Ken has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Daryl McClelland Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County in December 2010, the Russell E. Pettit Excellence in Leadership Award from WACE for his lifetime contributions to the Chamber Industry, and was named Executive of the Year by WACE in 2014. Ken previously served as the President/CEO of the Visalia Chamber of Commerce and the Director of Governmental Affairs for the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.
In his spare time, Ken has been active in political campaigns throughout the west coast, and has worked to forge consensus on issues ranging from regional transportation spending to community development to capital projects for school districts to building stronger ties between the US and Canada. He also works with other Chambers of Commerce around the West Coast on long range planning for their organizations. He enjoys traveling, local community events, and is now officially the biggest fan of the Seattle Sounders in Southern California.