For the last eight years, Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Eileen Hupp has been a champion of goodwill on the hill.
As chamber president, Hupp provides leadership for the business community and adheres to the organization’s mission: to build a strong local economy, provide resources and platforms for businesses to connect with each other, and to be the voice of business to the government and the community.
And for almost a decade Hupp has done just that.
“When I think about it, the chamber is in the business of connections,” Hupp said. “We are the nucleus of the cell that touches every part of the community. We cover all four cities, so that puts us in a very unique position, because when we speak, we are speaking for all the businesses in the area.”
That gives the chamber a stronger, more powerful voice in Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates. A third of the chamber’s members are located off the peninsula elsewhere in the South Bay.
She added the more people she can interact with, the more energized she gets, and her obvious enthusiasm for the Chamber of Commerce is palpable.
“The thing I really love is to be creative and launch new programs for our members,” Hupp said. “I love doing a multitude of things, whether it is putting educational events together for our members, or coming up with new programs. It’s the heart of what the chamber does.”
Hupp said one of the things she is most proud is bringing a nationwide project, the Young Entrepreneurs program, to the community.
Now in its seventh year for middle and high school students in the area, the organization is designed for those who want to launch a business or nonprofit.
More than 150 students graduated from the program in the last six years. Hupp, along with chamber members and staff, work with students weekly for three hours over a six-month period.
Students are given an overview, a business accounting 101 program and are directed to various analytical websites.
The Chamber raises an investor panel for the students to query aided by grants and fundraising efforts. By the end of the program, students have a formula to actually start a business.
“You can show up on day one at age 12, and be taught everything you need to know to launch a product, and actually sell it at our street fair in June,” Hupp said.
Top scoring students and parents are sent—all expenses paid—to a regional competition. If they succeed there, they go to the national competition to compete with 6th through 12th graders all over the country.
“We have had three kids make it to the top six in the nation, Hupps said. “We are so proud of what we have achieved and can teach them. I think we run the best Young Entrepreneurs program in the entire country.”
Hupp has lived and worked in the South Bay for 39 years.
She was a partner in a consulting firm when she was recruited to join the chamber by a board member who thought she would make a good CEO.
The Peninsula resident said she was formerly in the private sector negotiating mergers and acquisitions, consulting and forecasting, launching nationwide marketing campaigns, but got a call at the right time and thought working in community would be enjoyable.
Additionally, Hupp said she “comes from a philosophy of abundance.” She believes there is so much business, so much goodness in our community, and that the more we form relationships, the more we will all rise up and thrive.
The Chamber president said she’s been told that not all chamber of commerces do this type of inclusive work for businesses.
“I offer a lot of business expertise,”Hupp said. “People have told me I’ve given them the advice that a business consultant would charge a thousand dollars for. That’s something unique that we can offer our businesses here, and I enjoy doing that.”