On its 90th anniversary yesterday, the Washington area's biggest business group took on a new name, elected a new board of directors and set its sights on new goals for the 1980s.

The Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade became the Greater Washington Board of Trade when members voted to approve the name change at the board's annual meeting at the Capital Hilton.

The new name, a new symbol, and a new motto, "Linking business and community in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and Surburban Maryland," are "indicative of businesses' desire to reach out to the public sector, to community groups and to people," said Ralph Frey, president-elect of the Board of Trade.

Frey, vice president and general manager of C & P Telephone Co., next year will succeed developer Oliver T. Carr as president.

In a speech tracing the Board of Trade back to its founding in 1889, Carr said the group's current goals include finding a source of funds to complete the Metro subway system, solving local sewer problems, removing the final obstacles to building a convention center, and changing the District's unemployment insurance and workers' compensation systems.

In a seminar on the decade ahead, Board of Trade members forecast a growing political role for the group through political action committees that were formed last year.

The separate Board of Trade-backed committees in The District, Virginia and Maryland made contributions to "free - enterprise - oriented" candidates, issued endorsements and urged members to work for favored candidates, their chairman explained.

In the future, leaders of the three committees said, the committees -- known as PACs -- will expand their efforts to recruiting candidates and providing a continuing political voice for business.

In its own elections -- in which there are no opposition candidates -- the Board of Trade members named these persons to serve three year terms beginning in January:

Sally A. Behn, executive vice president of Ferris & Co.; William Becker, partner in Becker & French; Kenneth M. Crosby, vice president of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith; William C. Detwiler, president of Garfinckel's; William Fitzgerald, president of Independence Federal Savings and Loan Association; Thomas Hays, chairman of the board of Hecht's; John T. Hazel, Jr., partner in Hazel, Beckhorn & Hanes; Donald Heim, president of Washington Gas Light Co.; George Hoyt, publisher of the Washington Star; Marsh S. Marshall, president of M. S. Ginn & Co.; Robert H. Smith, presidnet of Charles E. Smith Companies; and Larry C. Williams, senior partner of Williams & Lally.

The board presented its annual Golden Links award -- for efforts that "bring the community closer together" -- to Vincent Burke, chairman of the Board of Riggs National Bank and to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.