Chamber Adds Government Relations Staff, Appoints New Chair

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

Columbus, OH – The Columbus Chamber today announced the hiring of Kristen Easterday as director of local government relations, and the appointment of Barbara Benham, senior vice president and director of government relations for Huntington Bancshares, Inc., as chair of its government affairs steering committee.

“The addition of Easterday, who will focus specifically on local government relations, takes the Chamber’s commitment to public policy one step further by dedicating resources to cultivate local relationships and stay on top of legislative issues affecting our members,” said Michael Dalby, president and CEO of the Chamber. “We’re also proud to appoint Benham, a driving force in the region’s government relations industry, to a key position on the government affairs steering committee. Her knowledge and experience will help to educate members on issues impacting their businesses.”

In her position, Easterday will advocate for business-centered economic growth policies to members of local governments and will assist Michael Hartley, vice president of government relations, with informing Chamber members of public policy issues. Easterday previously served as the executive director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Office of Farmland Preservation, and as the finance coordinator for Michelle M. Mills for Columbus City Council. She completed her undergraduate studies at Ohio University and earned a master’s degree in public administration at The George Washington University.

As the new chair for the Chamber’s government affairs steering committee, Benham will collaborate with the 40-member committee to evaluate and provide recommendations regarding public policy issues affecting business owners in the region. Benham also will be involved in the Chamber’s annual Government Day event, which connects business leaders and policymakers to discuss issues that are important to the economic growth and development of the Columbus Region.

The Chamber’s government relations initiatives are designed to support businesses and the development of the Columbus Region. In the past, the organization’s efforts have helped the region to secure millions of dollars from the federal government to improve the infrastructure at Rickenbacker, an important area for the growing logistics sector; save thousands of jobs at the Defense Supply Center Columbus; and positively affect state regulations. The Chamber facilitates dialogue between business and government leaders and connects local businesses with resources to improve their ability to do business.

The Columbus Chamber helps businesses thrive. It leads business growth, retention and expansion initiatives in the Columbus Region, enhances the business environment and delivers programs and services that enable its members to be more successful. To learn more about the Columbus Chamber, visit