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WOMEN TO WATCH

BETSY GARDNER ECKBERT and KATIE KELLER:

Making Waves in Winter Park by Kate Slentz

WHEN BETSY GARDNER ECKBERT

thought what a great opportunity to spread

WAS HIRED AS PRESIDENT AND

the word of all the great things the cham-

CEO OF THE WINTER PARK CHAM-

ber does,” she adds.

BER OF COMMERCE, she was given a

And that was Betsy’s first order of busi-

strategic plan that called for changes. Six

ness — to identify and understand the

months later, she and her team, nearly

chamber’s mission. “We want to bring

half of which are millennials, are putting

people together around the ideas that mat-

practices in place to position the chamber

ter to Winter Park and the people who live

as a master marketing vector for mem-

here but with a much more regional

bers, an international attraction for visi-

focus,” she explains.

tors and commerce, and a supporter of

Those goals align with Betsy’s back-

entrepreneurialism within Winter Park.

ground in sales, marketing, business

“This is a pillar of our community so

development and international business

we should be seeking to do good for the

as well as her love of Winter Park as a

greater good, but we have to approach

native. We first wrote about Betsy, daugh-

what we do through the lens of commerce

ter of the late Orange County Clerk of the

first,” Betsy explains, who is working

Betsy Gardner Eckbert and Katie Keller

closely with Director of Marketing and Communications Katie Keller to measure

Courts Lydia Gardner, in 2015 when she launched Long Wave London Apparel Limited, a high-end children’s swimwear

and test the needs and wants of members

line, with two partners she met while liv-

and the community at large.

ing in London.

“One of my favorite things that we’re

ing forward to was coming in here and

“That whole thing got so far so fast;

doing is after every event and pretty much

shaking things up a little bit — bringing my

none of us thought that was ever going to

everything we do we’re sending out a sur-

perspective,” Katie explains. “I’m relation-

happen and that’s a great problem to have.

vey,” Katie says. “So we’re really looking

ship based but I also did the business side

Harrods had the collection and within a

for feedback. We’re doing a bunch of inno-

of things so I’m really — like Betsy — data

month they wanted to reorder. Through

vative things but we want to know what

driven. And I like to make choices based on

that, we developed this core user base in

people want.”

tangible evidence — numbers and facts. I

the Arab world and we just kept going into

This passion for data and analytics

saw an opportunity to come in, gather the

more and more countries. And then I was

comes from her studies at the University

opinion of the community and help work

on an international flight 16 hours in

of Florida where she received her bache-

towards those goals.”

length with great regularity and it was too

lor’s in public relations and master’s in

That includes sharing the chamber’s

much time away from my children. So I

business administration. “When I gradu-

story — what it offers members and the

sold my shares in the company and I was

ated with my master’s I decided to come

Winter Park community. “There were a

doing a lot of consulting work, and then

back home to Winter Park, where I grew

lot of events I had participated in that I

Patrick Chapin [former Winter Park

up, and look for a job,” she explains. She

didn’t know were produced by the cham-

Chamber president] turned in his notice,”

had already accepted another offer when

ber. I won a Christmas art contest when I

Betsy explains.

she was invited to interview at the chamber.

was in eighth grade and had no idea that

While she has lots of ideas and ambi-

“One of the things that I was really look-

the chamber of commerce put it on and I

tions, Betsy is presently focused on three

16

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Profile for Orange Appeal

Orange Appeal July/August 2017  

Central Florida lifestyle publication connecting women

Orange Appeal July/August 2017  

Central Florida lifestyle publication connecting women