Changes at the Greater Memphis Chamber keep coming.
Shelby County Attorney Kelly Rayne is joining the chamber to serve as vice president of public policy, where she will focus on policy issues as they relate to the Memphis business community. Rayne will begin her new role Jan. 13.
“Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work on transformative projects that make Memphis and Shelby County a great place to live, work and play,” Rayne said in a statement. “Now, as part of the chamber team, I will be able to continue that work and further develop my relationships to benefit the Memphis business community.”
Rayne could not be reached for comment before press time.
Rayne joins the chamber as it prepares to select a new president following the upcoming departure of John Moore and as the business group prepares to launch an ambitious civic and business campaign.
Leading that effort will be a group called the “Chairman’s Circle,” which will consist of local business executives willing to each donate $25,000 every year, around $2.5 million annually, to pursue transformative projects.
“Kelly has the knowledge and the know-how to get things done,” said incoming chamber chairwoman Leigh Shockey.
Rayne has deep experience in local economic development efforts, including serving as interim economic development director for Memphis and Shelby County and as legal counsel to the Industrial Development Board, the entity that operated the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program before the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County was created.
“The chamber team has worked with (Rayne) for a number of years in economic development and public policy matters,” Moore said. “Her depth of experience and exceptional abilities will be valuable assets for the Greater Memphis community.”
Dexter Muller, senior vice president for community development at the chamber, said Rayne’s primary role will be to focus on legislative and policy matters that could affect local businesses.
“I don’t think there’s an appreciation for how business can be affected by state and federal legislation or local ordinances,” Muller said. “It’s about the voice for our members and the business community and communicating their needs to various levels of government.”
With Rayne’s arrival, chamber vice president of community relations Andre Dean will be named vice president of community development. Dean has essentially been wearing two hates at the chamber, doing public policy work along with his focus on infrastructure, logistics and manufacturing.
“What this does is it gives us the opportunity to put strong resources in both areas,” said Muller. “Hiring (Rayne) gives us the additional resources to staff those areas the way they should be staffed.”
Rayne began her career in the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office in 1994. In 1996, she joined the Shelby County Attorney’s office, where she served as executive assistant attorney. Rayne then served as legislative adviser and special counsel to former Shelby County mayors Jim Rout and A C Wharton Jr.
Rayne also served as public policy adviser to Wharton and as deputy chief administrative officer for the City of Memphis after Wharton became Memphis mayor. In September 2010, Rayne was appointed by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell to serve as county attorney.
“Kelly has been a dedicated public servant,” Luttrell said. “She has assisted with many complex legal issues during her three years of service as Shelby County attorney. She has been one of the brightest and hardest-working county attorneys that has ever held that post. We will miss her talents and strong work ethic. Kelly will be a great asset in her new role at the Greater Memphis Chamber.”