KEN OPLINGER: Director, Santa Barbara Office

Ken Oplinger has been leading Chambers of Commerce in the Western US for over 26 years, most recently as the President/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region.


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 and 2013. 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.


Originally from Tempe, Arizona, Ken, his wife Diana and their daughter, Rachel, live in Oxnard Shores. Ken not only served as the President/CEO of the Bellingham/Whatcom 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 on the Blaine City Council until returning to California. He currently serves as the Chair of the Workforce Development Board of Santa Barbara County and the Economic Vitality Team of Santa Barbara County. 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.