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An Interview with San Francisco’s First Female Chamber of Commerce President

Being a woman in any leadership position can have its challenges—but being the first woman to ever step foot into a leadership role at an organization is an entirely different ballgame.

Tallia Hart is the new President and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the first female president ever in the organization’s 167-year history. Prior to her current role, Tallia was President & CEO of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, the largest Chamber in Orange County, and moved the Irvine Chamber into the forefront of Western Chambers in terms of profitability and engagement. Now, Tallia lives in San Francisco with her husband Mark, daughter Lola and their two bulldogs.

We sat down with Tallia to learn more about her groundbreaking new role at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and see how she Breaks the Mold by staying strong—and delivering.

What was your “aha moment” with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce? How did you know this was something you should devote yourself to?

The passion, energy, and vibrancy of San Francisco attracted me to this role. In what other city can you break barriers and have it looked at optimistically?

What is the hardest part of being a leader at work?

People are not comfortable with change—it takes time to make adjustments that really impact culture long-term.

What’s your method for work-life balance?

Do what’s important to you. Some days it could be sitting in big meetings, and some days it can be your family. You are the only one who can define and create balance. And, always answer your emails!

How do you #BreakTheMold and stray away from the conventional?

I think I’ve Broken the Mold a bit by being the first female leader of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce in 167 years. I’m incredibly proud to be the first woman in this role.

"I recognize the importance of having diverse perspectives at the table in order for an organization to innovate and grow."

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

I trained for the Olympics in gymnastics with famed Bela Karolyi!

What piece of advice do you have for women just starting out in their career?

Find mentors early, and always listen. Also, gravitate towards people who are two things: honest and loyal. If two people can be honest with each other about everything, that's probably the biggest key to success.

What quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and #BreakTheMold?

I have two quotes that I always look to for inspiration: “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” — Colin Powell, and “A good leader doesn't get stuck behind a desk.” — Richard Branson.

What’s next for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce?

You will see new energy and a reflection of our business community through our programs and seminars. We will be open and inclusive to promoting every sector of business throughout the City. It’s time to bring the Chamber into the 21st century and make it a more modern organization.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is unique in that it is a blend of long-standing companies that have been in our community for decades or more, including both small businesses and tech companies. Now, we are are looking for even more opportunities to engage with new companies that may not be familiar with us.

Extra Credit

What is the most-used app on your phone — and why?

Instagram—I’m very visual!

What’s the first thing you do every morning?

Drink coffee, always.

What book could you re-read over and over?

I don’t like to do the same thing twice!

What is your go-to bra style?

A T-shirt Bra for a comfortable and relaxing fit.

Finish the sentence: I #BreakTheMold by _____.

I #BreakTheMold by staying strong, and delivering.

This post is part of our #BreakTheMold series, where we celebrate the lives and work of trailblazing women. Check out the rest of the series here.