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June 14, 2007

Paul Speranza of Wegmans is elected chair of the U.S. Chamber

Paul Speranza, vice chairman, general counsel and secretary for Wegmans Food Markets Inc. and vice chairman of finance on The Business Council's Board of Directors, has been elected chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As chairman of the U.S. Chamber's Board, Speranza will address, work with and call to action state and local chambers, associations, business groups and other civic and charitable organizations to "advance pro-growth policies and programs," according to a release from the U.S. Chamber.

Kenneth Adams, president and CEO of The Business Council, hailed the news.

"Through his role in The Business Council, Paul Speranza has brought to New York State's business community the same creativity, commitment, and energy that have helped make Wegmans one of the world's most admired companies," Adams said. "Wegmans is a corporate role model for many New York employers, and as a leader of that company and of The Business Council, Paul Speranza exemplifies visionary business and civic leadership."

Speranza was named to the U.S. Chamber's Board in 1998, where he represented The Business Council. He was appointed chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Taxation Committee in 1998, and served as the U.S. Chamber's vice chairman and regional vice chairman of the eastern region. Speranza also served as the chairman of the Employee Benefits Committee for seven years.

The U.S. Chamber represents three million companies and 3,000 state and local chambers. Its mission is to represent the interests of business and free enterprise before the president, Congress, the courts, regulatory agencies and governments worldwide.

"Paul is a leader of leaders and brings high-level experience, energy, passion, and creativity to this position, and he knows how to get things done," said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. "He will be an extremely effective advocate for the Chamber."

"He is particularly interested in education and workforce development, especially for the economically disadvantaged, and in the quality, affordability, and accessibility of health care," the U.S. Chamber's release said. Speranza identified three goals for his tenure as chairman, the U.S. Chamber said. Speranza intends to help the chamber improve education and workforce development, focusing on the economically disadvantaged. He also would like to improve the quality, access and affordability of health care as well as focus U.S. Chamber initiatives to align them with those of state and local chambers.

Wegmans is a 70-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland. The company employs 35,000 workers and generates more than $4 billion in annual sales. This family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. Speranza, in leading Wegmans' legal department for more than 30 years takes particular pride in the fact that recently Ethisphere Magazine named Wegmans one of the most ethical companies in the world based on its implementation of its code of ethics, how it handles litigation, its compliance with laws and regulations and its leadership, among other criteria. In 2007, the Food Network, in its first-ever awards show, gave Wegmans the award for the "grocery chain that has changed the way we shop." Also this year, BusinessWeek named Wegmans number five on its customer service champion list. For the last 10 years, Wegmans has been on FORTUNE magazine's list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For." In each of the last three years, Wegmans has been ranked number one in the over 10,000 employee category and either one, two or three overall.

Speranza joined Wegmans in 1976, where he chairs a number of committees, and is responsible for legal, government relations, tax and labor relations, among other management duties. Speranza is a member of the board of The Business Council of New York State, where he also serves as vice chairman-finance, and is a member of the Executive and Policy Committee. In addition, he represents The Business Council on the U.S. Chamber board. He serves on the board of directors and the Executive Committee of the Rochester Business Alliance (the Rochester chamber of commerce) and also chairs its Business Advocacy/Community Issues Committee. Speranza is a member of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Taxpayer Advisory Council. He is active in numerous business, civic, and professional organizations and is a frequent speaker on business, legal, and civic topics.

Speranza is a graduate of Eastridge High School (1965), Syracuse University (B.S., 1969), the University of San Francisco (J.D., 1971), and New York University (LL.M. in Taxation, 1972), which is consistently ranked as the number one graduate tax program in the United States. He is a member of the bars of California, New York, Pennsylvania, the Tax Court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.