To: Whoever wants to read this
Re: Pete Levi
From: Pam Whiting
Date: December 2009
What do you say about someone with whom you’ve shared a huge part of your life?
Pete Levi is retiring December 31 after serving as Chamber President for 19 years. I was privileged to work with him for nearly eleven.
I have to add that, if Pete is reading this, he’s groaning inwardly because he hates it when I (try to) make things personal. “It’s about The Chamber, not me,” he tells me every time I put a personal reference in a piece of copy – a reference like to his golf game or some award he’s gotten. Anytime I try to slip an “I” in there, he makes me change it to “we.”
So he’ll tell me I shouldn’t be writing this, but what’s he gonna do – fire me? (I certainly wouldn’t think so, not at this late date!)
Anyway, after nearly 11 years of working with Pete, here’s my assessment: politically astute, compassionate, very smart, devout, and deeply devoted to his family.
As for the legacy he leaves, if I was still working as a reporter, I’d focus on these two: regional collaboration and diversity.
Pete has worked diligently to bring people together above the state line. The Governors’ Summit on Regional Economic Development, the annual Leadership Exchanges that bring together business and civic leaders from both Kansas and Missouri, a dawning sense in the community that we must collaborate regionally are all a result of his tenure and vision.
Diversity within The Chamber is his second legacy, and when I use that word, I do so in the multiple contexts of race, gender, size of business, and geography. All are important aspects of our membership.
Compare the makeup of The Chamber Board and Chamber membership today with what it was 19 years ago and you see the difference. The many faces of our community are represented, small businesses and large, from Kansas and Missouri.
Today the Greater Kansas City Chamber is considered one of the top ten regional chambers in the country – thanks in very large part to Pete Levi. (He, of course, would make me edit out the last part of that last sentence.)
I’ve told him my length of service at The Chamber is a record for me – I have a tendency to get bored easily – but there’s always been something new to work on. Sometimes he’s put it on my plate. Other times he’s given us the go-ahead on a project we really want to do (like the current design of a new Web site).
I’ve learned a lot from him these past 11 years. Pete has served as mentor and guide, providing advice, counsel, and the occasional (needed) nudge or gentle slap-down. I’ll miss seeing him on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis.
Many thanks, Pete, if you’re still reading this. (I TOLD you the blog needed to be personal…this is an example.)