Power Forward Speaker Series kicks off Wednesday

Published: Jan. 31, 2018 at 11:04 AM EST
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By: WCTV Eyewitness News

January 31, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The fifth annual Power Forward Speaker Series kicks off at 3:30 this afternoon at Florida State University's Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.

The event will feature hospitality industry disruptor Chip Conley of Airbnb.

“We believe small businesses are the backbone of our community, and Power Forward is just one way we support entrepreneurship by keeping their leaders inspired,” said Cecilia Homison, CEO of First Commerce Credit Union. “This year, we wanted to bring in a true industry disruptor from the new sharing economy, and we loved Chip’s story from Airbnb.”

Conley founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality at age 26 - taking an inner city motel and turning it into the 2nd largest boutique hotel brand in the world. He was CEO of his innovative company for 24 years. In 2013, he accepted an invitation from the founders of Airbnb to help transform a promising home sharing start-up into what is today the world’s largest hospitality brand. As Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy, Chip taught his award-winning methods to hundreds of thousands of Airbnb hosts in nearly 200 countries. In addition, he created the Airbnb Open that brings thousands together in a global festival of belonging. Conley transitioned to a part-time role as Strategic Advisor for Hospitality and Leadership in January 2017.

In 2013, Conley founded Fest300 to share his passion for travel and the world’s best festivals (the company merged with Everfest in 2016 where he is part-time Chief Strategy Officer). Conley has received hospitality’s highest honor, the Pioneer Award, joining industry icons Marriott, Kimpton and Wynn. He is the founder of the Celebrity Pool Toss, which has raised millions for the Tenderloin neighborhood where he opened his first hotel, and San Francisco’s Hotel Hero Awards that shine a light on the unsung heroes serving hotel guests every day.

Past speakers in the Power Forward Speaker Series have included NFL legend and entrepreneur Jim Kelly; Randi Zuckerberg from the Facebook startup team; Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc.; and Barbara Corcoran of the entrepreneurial hit, “Shark Tank.”

A limited number of tickets are still available for Wednesday's event and can be purchased at

. Tickets are $40* base price for main level seating and $30* base price for balcony seating; $10* for students - a student ID is required for college students. Tickets also will be sold at the FSU Fine Arts Ticket Office (in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building at 540 W. Call St.)