Through the Years: Betty Buck

Betty Buck, President of Buck Distributing Co., Inc., became the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors’ first female chair in 2007. Then-president and CEO Kathy Snyder described her as a dynamic businesswoman with leadership experience and political insight that made her the perfect fit to lead the Maryland Chamber’s efforts.

Ten years later, we’re checking in with Buck, who now serves on the Maryland Chamber Foundation board.

MDCC: Tell us a bit about your background and what led to your involvement with the Maryland Chamber.

BB: Kathy and I worked together at the Prince George’s Chamber, and she understood my love of not just the county but the state. The Maryland Chamber needed more women’s involvement, and we needed to be heard, not just seen. She challenged me, knowing that I will always take on a challenge.

MDCC: You were also the first – and only – female chair of the National Beer Wholesalers Association. What does that mean to you?

BB: To be the first female chair of National Beer Wholesalers Association and then the Maryland Chamber was, for me, truly a moment in history. When you stand on a national stage and speak for 2,500 beer distributors, representing families that have been in business, some for 71-years – and a few even longer — it’s a big responsibility.

MDCC: What have you learned about leadership throughout your career, and how has it helped in your board service?

BB: I learned from watching my father, who was so hands-on that he even ordered the toilet paper. I didn’t want to be that kind of manager. When I took over the business, I put the right people in the job and got out of their way. I have the last word, but I try not to interfere. I took that style with me to every board I have been on. Sit, watch and learn first. You don’t have to redesign the watch if it simply needs to be cleaned and oiled.

MDCC: What advice would you give to other women who want to chair an organization?

BB: I always tell them to get on a committee or volunteer—get to know if it is something you believe in first.

MDCC: What advice would you give other career-motivated women?

BB: As a single mother, my kids had to share me with work, charities and working in the legislature. No one can do it alone. If you need help, ASK. Family is not made up of blood; I am adopted, as is my youngest son. Family is who matters and makes a difference in your life. Your friends are waiting to help!

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