Miami City Club Executive Named To Lead Beach Chamber
By Sherri C. Ranta
The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce has named Wendy Kallergis, a hospitality and restaurant expert, as its new president and CEO, effective in mid-September.
Ms. Kallergis will leave Miami City Club, an executive dining club atop Wachovia Financial Center, where she is general manager, to lead the 1,300-member chamber. She succeeds 17-year CEO Bruce Singer, whose retirement was effective Monday.
"Wendy is a high-energy executive with a solid understanding of how to create value for the members and inspire world-class, dynamic events," said chamber Chairman Alan Randolph, a senior vice president at Mellon Bank.
The chamber’s board met Tuesday with Ms. Kallergis. Ms. Kallergis was one of three finalists, the only one from South Florida.
Her experience as general manager of a membership-based club, management experience in the hospitality industry and knowledge of Greater Miami and Miami Beach were selling points, said Annette Taddeo, chairwoman of the chamber’s search committee and CEO of translation firm LanguageSpeak.
"She understands the community, she understands the Beach. She has the energy we felt we needed for the vibrancy of the Beach," Ms. Taddeo said.
Ms. Kallergis, a French-trained chef, moved to Miami in the mid-1980s, cooking at Pavillon restaurant, forerunner of InterContinental Miami. She held catering management positions at Mayfair House, the Grand Bay, the Biltmore and the Delano hotels.
A.T. Kearney Executive Search conducted the search and contacted Ms. Kallergis.
"The confidentiality was so good," she said. "I always look at everything as opportunity. I thought, well, maybe I’ll take a look at it.
"The chamber is really at an exciting stage now," she said. "The chamber is in an excellent place right now financially as well as its image."
The client-retention skills she honed as a chef and catering manager at several of Miami’s prestigious hotels, including the Delano, dovetail well with membership development and retention initiatives she led at the Miami City Club. She plans to put those skills to work at the chamber.
"The great thing is there are so many overlapping circles of business in Miami," Ms. Kallergis said Tuesday. "People conduct business on the Beach, and they live in Miami. Or they conduct business in Miami and live on Miami Beach."
Ms. Kallergis’ appointment represents another changing of the guard for chambers during the past three years in Miami-Dade County. Bill Cullom retired after 19 years as president and CEO of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce hired Lettie Bien to replace its longtime president and CEO, Ron Robison; and Bill Diggs became president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, replacing longtimer Dorothy Baker.
"It’s nice to see women and minorities being selected," which reflects diversity of the community, Ms. Taddeo said. "It’s not a good-old-boys club anymore."