Native Key Wester Scott Atwell to succeed Virginia Panico as Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Atwell left the island in 1983 to pursue a career in local television news, but will return to Key West on Nov. 4, 2019 to work alongside Panico until her contract expires at the end of December.
“Virginia has been an incredible champion for the Key West business community for three decades,” said Chamber Board President Mike Morawski, who is also president and CEO of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. “It was important to the board that we find a successor who understands our community, and Scott Atwell fits that bill as someone who has remained close to Key West while expanding his professional portfolio on the mainland.”
Atwell, 57, was also the only one of more than 180 candidates for the job who submitted with his resume a detailed business plan for the chamber’s future.
“I read nearly 200 resumes; that’s how much interest this job generated,” said Joe Caso, a chamber board member and business consultant who coordinated the national search for Panico’s replacement. “Scott has the skills, education and experience we were looking for, plus he’s the only candidate who submitted a business plan for our organization and he’s from Key West. He understands this community.”
Atwell’s experience includes leading a 30,000-member organization while working as president and CEO of the Florida State University Alumni Association since 2008. Most recently, Atwell was a Senior Vice President for the worldwide consulting firm Grenzebach Glier and Associates.
But Tallahassee is a long way from home, when one’s home will always be Key West, and Atwell graduated from Key West High School in 1979. He worked in the athletic department at the University of Miami while pursuing a communications degree, then made his way to Tallahassee, where he became a television sportscaster. Atwell held several communications positions at Florida State University, eventually becoming President and CEO of the FSU Alumni Association. In all, he spent 35 years in Tallahassee and earned a master’s degree from FSU in 2015.
“The number of applicants we had for this job speaks volumes about the business community in Key West — and about the candidate we selected,” said Waste Management Senior District Manager Greg Sullivan, who will be installed in January for his third term as Chamber president.
Atwell and his wife, Dr. Michelle Bachtel, a cardiologist, are the parents of four grown children.
The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce and its 500 members work to promote and maintain a viable economy for the businesses and working people of Key West.