'Local' successor likely to Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Kallergis
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Whoever is picked to succeed outgoing Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Kallergis will be a well-known face on the Beach.
"Our feeling is we would prefer to stay local," said chamber Chairman Aaron Perry. "It's tough when you bring somebody in. They may be successful in their market" but not on Miami Beach.
Ms. Kallergis, who has held the post five years, this month announced she would take over for Stuart Blumberg, retiring president of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association.
Her salary was $150,000 but "I'm not saying that's what it's going to pay" in the future, Mr. Perry said.
Regardless of salary, the opening has generated healthy interest.
"We've already received a ton of interest and resumes," Mr. Perry added. He wouldn't discuss how many resumes the chamber has received, who they belong to or which are atop the stack. But the chamber has formed a search committee he chairs to help sift the pile.
Ms. Kallergis' last day is Nov. 25.
"Ideally, we'll be able to find somebody and have them in place the day Wendy steps down," said Mr. Perry, who will run the chamber's day-to-day if a permanent or interim president isn't immediately found. "But if we can't find that individual, I'm confident we'll be able to continue operations."
And while Ms. Kallergis said she'd help the board in its search, both she and Mr. Perry noted that whoever fills the seat will need to be able to act fast and be a good recruiter.
"A perfect fit is somebody [who] understands the importance of membership," Mr. Perry said. "That's the lifeline."
The chamber has about 1,100 members, most of who pay $500 a year, and an 80% member retention rate.
But besides hooking and keeping new members, Ms. Kallergis said the new president will have to be able to think on the fly to help members, as the chamber did when it launched the Miami Beach INcard with the Miami Beach Blue Ribbon Task Force on Tourism.
Since the first one was sent out in June, Ms. Kallergis said, the chamber has distributed more than 15,000 cards that offer discounts for everything on Miami Beach from meals at trendy restaurants to first dibs for performance tickets at The Fillmore at the Jackie Gleason Theater.
"The beauty of the Beach chamber is that you can be very innovative," she said.
The next president, she added, has to use that tool "to continue to make sure businesses are given the opportunity to bring in more business."