William C. Harris, the new president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, finds himself in a situation many of his predecessors would not have dreamed of: He assumes the leadership of the region's largest business association during a recession.

And he couldn't be more aware of it.

"The primary focus of the Board of Trade is going to be on improving our local economy," said Harris, president of the greater Washington region of Crestar Bank.

"My two biggest priorities are economic growth and regional cooperation, and I think the two go hand in hand."

Toward that end, Harris's top priority now is planning an "economic summit," for the end of February or beginning of March. He wants to bring together representatives from local governments, civic leaders and business leaders from the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia to talk about improving the economy, as well as transportation, housing, education, the Chesapeake Bay and other issues.

"We need to have a better understanding of how important we are to one another," Harris said of the three jurisdictions.

Following are other new officers of the trade board:

Gerald M. Lowrie, a senior vice president at American Telephone & Telegraph Co., president-elect of the trade board; Togo D. West Jr., senior vice president at Northrop Corp., secretary; Ellen V. Sigal, chief executive of Sigal/Zuckerman Co., assistant secretary; L. Ralph Hicks Jr., chairman, president and chief executive of Sovran Bank, treasurer; Thomas D. Ferguson, president of The Washington Post, assistant treasurer; Joseph T. Boyle, a partner-in-charge at KPMG Peat Marwick, assistant treasurer; Robert J. Elliott, a partner at Hogan & Hartson, general counsel; and John R. Tydings, executive vice president, a trade board staff position