Another Rising Star success: Hope Kennedy

CEO Hope Kennedy and her chamber, the North Tampa Bay Chamber, aren’t afraid to tackle controversial issues that they believe could have a positive impact on Florida businesses. She recently appeared on panel urging the passage of the Equality Act.

Kennedy worked at the Pensacola Chamber before relocating to the Tampa Bay area. She was a member of the Rising Star Class of 2010. I asked her what she learned here that has helped her as the North Tampa Bay Chamber CEO.

“I say I grew up in Chamber in Pensacola when I was there for five years,” said Kennedy. “I learned how to navigate all of the different opinions and the different thought processes.”

She learned that chambers have to be involved in the political process. “That’s what chambers do,” said Kennedy. “We have to be the voice of business and as that leader, it’s imperative that we take a stand.”

Kennedy continued, “I learned a lot while I was there. We had a lot of issues during the time that I was there. We had just had Hurricane Ivan, then we had the recession, then we had the oil spill and then it was just going downhill from there. So I learned a lot about just navigating different personalities and agendas. That’s been able to bring me here and we’ve been able to come together as a region on a lot of issues and topics.”

She shared that her two decades in chamber industry have led her to pare down what a chamber does into three words.

“We’re a connector, a convener and a catalyst,” said Kennedy. “And we don’t have to know everything, but we need to know what’s important and what’s coming down the pike so that we can help educate our members that have joined our organization.”