LEWISTON — Matt Leonard will close a long career with the Navy in a ceremony in San Diego on May 6. Five days later, he’ll take over as the new president and CEO of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber board announced Monday that Leonard, a Portland native, will replace longtime head Chip Morrison when he retires.

“In a couple weeks, I’ll celebrate the end of one chapter and get out there on the road and begin another one,” said Leonard, 39. “I couldn’t be more excited for that. It’s the same sense of excitement when I left for boot camp 21 years ago. I feel that excitement coming home.”

Board Chairman Clif Greim said Leonard visited the area three times during the six-month search process that drew 54 applicants from around the country.

He impressed the board with his ideas and “endless energy,” Greim said. “While it’s hard to put a gauge on the energy meter that Chip has represented over the years, if there was a candidate that had something similar to that, it would be (Leonard).”

Leonard has already vowed to meet all 1,400 members in his first year.

“I did the math: It comes down to a six-day work week, about 4.9 members per day,” Leonard said. “You’ve got to get out there and you’ve got to walk the streets and you’ve got to meet and talk with people. I’m 100 percent committed to that. It’s a big goal but I’m going to try my best to do it.”

Leonard has been stationed in Japan, San Diego, Brunswick and the Pentagon over his naval career and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has several degrees, including a bachelor of science in business studies from Southern New Hampshire University.

He said he and wife, Rebekah, an opera singer, were looking for a place to raise their family, and he was looking for the job that would follow his Navy service when he found the chamber search committee’s ad on LinkedIn and thought it sounded perfect.

“It’s not just a job, it’s an opportunity to serve,” Leonard said. “To do more than come in and punch a clock from 9 to 5. To serve a community and be part of something more than just yourself.”

They hope to buy a home soon. In some ways, it’s a matter of getting reacquainted; his mom was born in Lewiston. He learned to ski at Lost Valley in Auburn.

Leonard said he’d like the chamber to play a role in regional development and business recruiting. It’s already doing great things, he said. It’s just a matter of doing a little more.

“It speaks volumes when a company is looking to move somewhere when a chamber can engage them and say we want you here, we’re a strong community and we’re ready to receive them,” Leonard said.

He’s braced, too, for comparisons. Morrison has led the chamber for nearly 20 years.

“Chip is a legend. It’s a lot to aspire to,” Leonard said. “But I tell people, if you look at sports, Drew Bledsoe retired from the Patriots and we got Tom Brady; he’s done all right. Joe Montana retired, we got Steve Young.

“There’s a lot of anxiety in transition, you never know fully who you’re going to get,” he said. “I fully expect to be judged for a period of time. I just hope I can earn the trust of the community and I hope I can make an impact, and that can speak for itself.”

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