Daniel H. Sohn is going west. Sohn was hired this month to lead a regional chamber of commerce in southern California.
If all goes according to plan, Sohn will become president & chief executive officer of a new entity as three chambers of commerce are in the process of merging. In December of 2020 in El Centro, Imperial and Westmorland Chambers of Commerce voted to form the Imperial Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Sohn is tasked to bring them together.
“I’m extremely humbled by the faith the IVRCC Board of Directors has placed in me to be their next president and CEO,” Sohn said. “I am ready to put on my learning hat, listening ears, and ready to roll up my sleeves to get to work.”
Sohn, 30, departs Florida where he was a regular and influential player on the political scene. He began his career as a legislative aide in Tallahassee and more recently was elected to a council seat in the tiny Palm Beach town of Haverhill.
“Daniel has highly developed interpersonal skills, approaches his work with enthusiasm, and is a generous and effective leader,” said Patricia Edmonson, the former vice-chair of the Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District Board.
Sohn worked as Edmonson’s chief-of-staff in 2016 and was highly skilled at navigating between local, state, and federal agencies, she said. Edmonson called Sohn “the consummate ambassador from my office to my constituents.”
”He is the ‘Happy Warrior’ that can pull a team together, persuade with sincerity, and turn the most daunting challenges into exciting opportunities,” she said.
Sohn identifies as bisexual. He married his partner Kaitik Chan last February at a historic wedding inside the Florida capitol. Two months later, he lost his re-election to the Haverhill town council by one vote to a gay man who was running against him.
“Everything I have done, every experience I’ve had, and every role I have held is now knowledge I’ll summon in my new role,” Sohn said.
Bari Smith, an executive board member of the chamber, said the hiring of Sohn was the final, pivotal step in the merger.
“Daniel has tremendous experience, passion and skill sets to offer our business community,” said Smith, in a press release. “As an Executive Board, we look forward to his leadership, legislative experience and positive personality being a catalyst for business growth, advocacy and success in the new Regional Chamber of Commerce.”
Located in southeastern California, the Imperial Valley is bordered by Joshua Tree National Park and Interstate 10 to the north, the Colorado River to the east, the Salton Sea to the west and the U.S.-Mexico border to the south.
In 2019, the Census Bureau estimated Imperial County to have a population of 181,215. It is one of the larger — in terms of land — of California’s 58 counties. Sohn said he is ready to debunk the myth that California is overregulated and anti-business.
“Imperial County is the county that drives the state's agricultural revenue,” Sohn said. “I’m not so sure that regulations have been all that bad here since government regulations have ensured the protection of the agricultural area allowing Imperial County to be the producer of half the nation's winter vegetables.”