Kelley takes helm at Waukesha County Chamber


Suzanne Kelley, new president of the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce, has some smart and very successful shoes to fill.

Kelley officially began her work as head of the organization earlier this week, succeeding Patti Wallner, who retired.

"This position with the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce presents a truly unique opportunity to use to the fullest potential a lifetime of small and large business experiences for the growing, active and diverse Waukesha County business community," Kelley said. "Businesses are facing a myriad of daunting obstacles, and I believe the chamber can be an invaluable tool for dealing with such challenges by further focusing on its core areas: network, promote, develop and advocate."

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Kelley, a lifelong Waukesha County resident, accepted the role of chamber president in August.

"The chamber has gone through an impressive evolution during the seven-year tenure of outgoing president Patti Wallner," Kelley said. "I accept the charge of carrying on the high standards Patti has set and further enhancing the value the Chamber delivers to the business community."

Kelley spent the past 23 years as the government affairs manager for General Electric’s Midwest region. The members of the chamber’s search committee were Fred Stier, Clare O’Sheel, Mike Gryczka, Brian Nemoir, Emily Hepburn, Mike Pjevach, and Terry Jannsen.

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Kelley is this week’s Bubbler Executive of the Week.

Name:  Suzanne Kelley

Title:  President

Organization: Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce

Address:  2717 N. Grandview Blvd., Suite 204; Waukesha, WI 53188

Web site:

Industry: Nonprofit business service organization

Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism, University of Florida-Gainesville; master’s degree in communications, Marquette University

Family:  Husband, John Kelley, and two children – Melissa (15) and Michael (13)

Hobbies and interests: Tennis, biking, hiking, boating, reading and travel

Favorite book and/or movie:  Book, “Platero & I” by Juan Ramon Jimenez and movie, "Cabaret."

Favorite musician/band: Eagles

Favorite place to visit/vacation: Walchsee, Austria

Words to live by: "Treat others as you wish to be treated, and don’t sweat the small stuff."

What is your core philosophy for doing business? "Always look for ways to add value for your customers.  Banish busy work!"

Who is your role model and why? "My parents. They emigrated to the U.S. from Germany and built a successful business through amazing determination and hard work.  They taught me to always pursue goals with energy and enthusiasm."

What was the funniest thing that has ever happened to you? "Almost gave birth to our second child on Capitol Drive. Made it to St. Joe’s just in time. When the doctor walked in after the fact, my husband handed him our keys and asked if he could make himself useful by parking our car, which still stood at the entrance of the hospital."

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