Rick C. Wade is senior vice president of Strategic Alliances and Outreach at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Wade develops and implements programs and initiatives to help the Chamber create new business relationships and partnerships across diverse audiences. He also provides counsel on policy issues and leads special projects. His wealth of knowledge and experience in both the public and private sectors enable him to give a megaphone to the voice of business across the country and share the positive impacts of the free enterprise system. Among Wade’s many responsibilities, he is leading the Chamber’s historic Equality of Opportunity initiative aimed to develop sustainable public policy and business solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in education, employment, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, health and wealth.
Before joining the Chamber, Wade was principal of The Wade Group, a strategic communications and global business development firm, and was a partner at Harves Investment Group, a consultancy that facilitated foreign direct investment into the United States.
A member of the Democratic National Committee, Wade as an Adviser to President Barack Obama and National Director of Africa-American Vote at the 2008 Obama for America campaign. He was a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke where he was a liaison to the White House, businesses, trade associations, civic organizations, and local governments. He was a member of the White House task forces on Puerto Rico, Small Business Contracting, Automobile Recovery, Military Families, and Historically Black Colleges & Universities. He also served on the Interagency Business Council and former Vice President Joe Biden’s Task Force on Middle Class America and worked with the White House on implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Wade also worked with Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to foster regional economic development in distressed areas, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on expanding broadband to rural and urban America, the Minority Business Development Agency to create jobs through the growth of minority-owned businesses, and the Census Bureau on executing the 2010 decennial census.
In addition, Wade was instrumental in expanding opportunities for U.S. companies to sell their products in the global market. He represented the U.S. at international trade forums including the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum, and the Conference on the Caribbean and Central America. He served as special envoy to the Caribbean, oversaw private sector initiatives in Haiti following the 2010 devastating earthquake, and led trade missions around the world.
He was an executive at Hoffman-La Roche and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. He also had experience at the South Carolina House of Representatives, the Cabinet of the Governor, and the Office of the President at the University of South Carolina.
Wade received his B.S. from the University of South Carolina and an M.P.A. from Harvard University. He was awarded honorary doctorates from Benedict College and South Carolina State University and has received numerous awards for exemplary leadership and public service.