James Rooney, who has led the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority for more than a decade and before that played a role in assembling the Big Dig financing plan, is leaving the authority to succeed Paul Guzzi as president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
Rooney plans to start July 1, according to the chamber, which has long represented business industry interests on Beacon Hill while also playing a role in facilitating public policy conversations. Guzzi has led the chamber of commerce for 19 years and Rooney has worked as executive director of the authority since 2003.
"Jim Rooney was the most strategic thinker of all the candidates and presented the clearest, most ambitious, thoughtful, and sophisticated plan for the chamber."Karen Kaplan, CEO of Hill Holliday
Rooney lives in Dorchester and grew up in South Boston. Before working at the convention center authority, he was chief of staff to the late Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, deputy general manager of the MBTA and a senior official at the former Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
Rooney's departure will open a major post at the independent authority, which oversees the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and the Hynes Convention Center.
The Legislature in 2014 authorized a $1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in the city's seaport area, but Gov. Charlie Baker has not signaled yet whether he plans to advance that project. Baker is reviewing state capital spending.
The search for Guzzi's successor was conducted by Korn Ferry, the same company that the University of Massachusetts has hired to help select a successor to UMass President Robert Caret. According to the chamber, Rooney was selected by a search committee and unanimously approved by the chamber's board.
Hill Holliday CEO Karen Kaplan led the search with Dr. Navjot Singh, managing partner of McKinsey & Co. in Boston and incoming chairman of the chamber's board.
"Jim Rooney was the most strategic thinker of all the candidates and presented the clearest, most ambitious, thoughtful, and sophisticated plan for the chamber," Kaplan said in a statement. "With a proven track record and an openness to change, the selection committee unanimously agreed that he is the best candidate to deliver that vision."
In statements, Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh applauded Rooney's selection as well as current Boston Chamber Chairman John Fish, who is leading Boston 2024's efforts to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston.