Ted Kleisner to be honored at 15th annual Opportunity Gala

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Savannah hospitality visionary and third-generation hotelier Ted Kleisner will be honored at the 15th annual Opportunity Award Gala, December 7, 2018. The event, hosted by the Savannah Technical College Foundation, honors deserving civic leaders in our community for a lifetime of service in creating and enhancing opportunities for others to succeed.

This year, the STC Foundation honors Kleisner for his leadership and vision. From 1973, as general manager of Savannah’s DeSoto Hilton when the renaissance of Savannah’s downtown was a distant possibility, Kleisner was among the leaders instrumental in establishing a Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau and was the chairman of the CVB, the predecessor of today’s Visit Savannah. He later chaired the project to build Rousakis Plaza on River Street and served on the board of Historic Savannah Foundation. He has been the president of the Savannah Symphony and division chair for the United Way of the Coastal Empire. He was president of the Georgia Hospitality & Travel Association and has also been president of every hotel association for the states where he’s lived.

After leaving Savannah, he built a successful hospitality career including 21 years leading CSX Hotels and the Greenbrier Resort & Club Management Company, as well as six years as CEO of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company. During his illustrious career, in which he was named Independent Hotelier of the World (HOTELS Magazine) and Resort Executive of the Year by the Hotel and Travel Index among other awards, Kleisner mentored many aspiring culinary and hospitality professionals and created opportunities through workforce development for the Savannah area.

Today, he is an Emeritus Trustee of the Culinary Institute of America. Appointed by the Mayor and City Council of Savannah, he serves as a commissioner of The Savannah Hilton Head International Airport Commission and as member of the Downtown Savannah Authority board. He is also the chairman of the board of trustees for The Telfair Museums of Savannah and serves on the board of directors of The Savannah Music Festival, Inc. and the Savannah Classical Academy Foundation.

Gala proceeds in 2018 will benefit the renovation of 7 West Bay Street for the location of Savannah Culinary Institute, the College’s downtown teaching facility with a student-run restaurant and bakery.

The event gathers 300 community and civic leaders for a celebratory evening honoring a special individual. The evening also showcases the talents of students enrolled in Savannah Technical College’s award-winning Culinary Arts programs. Past recipients include: Former Governor Zell Miller, Arnold Tenenbaum, Judge Griffin Bell, Tom Coleman, Dick Eckburg, Arthur M. Gignilliat, Jr., Bob and Alice Jepson, Howard Morrison, Stratton Leopold and Chef Jean Vendeville.

The Opportunity Award Gala is a fundraiser for the Savannah Technical College Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that raises funds to support Savannah Technical College. For ticket and sponsorship information, contact Gail Eubanks or 912.443.3022.


#1916 | Oct. 9, 2018

Media Contact: Amy Shaffer, APR
912.443.5512 or

Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 10,000 credit and non-credit students annually, Savannah Tech offers nearly 150 different instructional programs in Aviation Technology, Business and Professional Services, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry.

Savannah Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas and technical certificates of credit. Questions about the accreditation of Savannah Technical College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (