The Mill Valley Chamber has a longstanding Ambassador Program, whereby business owners and employers in various industries go above and beyond in a variety of ways to support the Chamber and its members.

That often means propelling our After Hours hosts to put their best foot forward, making sure the events include tasty bites and beverages, fun raffle prizes showcasing our members and spotlighting our local businesses.

Kathy Bakhshandeh, the Chamber’s Office & Visitor Center Manager, coordinates the Ambassador Program. Reach out here if you’re interested in learning more about the program.

Every month in 2024, we’ll be spotlighting one of our Ambassadors, and the first honoree is Peter O’Keefe, who is vice president for personal lines at .
Pete’s personal and professional roots in the Bay Area run deep. Born in Chicago, Pete moved to San Francisco at the age of two, living not far from the Cliff House, His father did is residency at the Public Health Service in the Presidio and established a 50-plus year medical practice in San Francisco.
O’Keefe attended St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School and later St. Ignatius College Preparatory school, both in San Francisco, calling himself “a total city kid” growing up enjoying his proximity to Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park.
He played football and soccer at St. Ignatius. After graduation, he chose to attend Boston College, not far from where his relatives live in the New England area.
“I really wanted to to go school back east and my mom’s brother went to Holy Cross – I idolized him – and he was in Boston,” he says. O’Keefe attended Boston College instead, and found that he could read and write very well and entertained thoughts of going to law school or getting into teaching. But when a longtime friend who was then living in Lake Tahoe reached out, he moved there for a stretch and returned to the Bay Area for what ended up being seven years of working in healthcare at Davies Medical Center.

O’Keefe initially focused on patient intake during a period of time when AIDS patients were getting sick and dying at horrific rates. He was then promoted to run the medical group, serving as a manager and liaison for 150 physicians. He later worked for Blue Cross for two years, and then sold practice management software to doctors for a stretch.

He then took on a role at Chrisad, a marketing agency in Corte Madera for dental practices. The move included a ton of travel, which he eventually had to step back from since he had young kids. That was followed by some time in tech sales and in the legal space.

At a convention, he met a veteran insurance agent who identified O’Keefe as someone who is very good with people. He told him, “Go to one of the big life insurance companies – that’s where you’ll get the best training.” O’Keefe took the advice and ended up at New York Life for more than two years.

“That’s when I met you,” O’Keefe says of the Chamber, noting that local connections within the Chamber and BNI yielded an array of career possibilities, including a role as an agent for David Wong at State Farm.

In the years prior, O’Keefe bumped into Kevin Sullivan at a Chamber event, and they became friends. “Because we had been getting to know each other, we started working out a scenario where I worked with him,” O’Keefe says.

Sullivan realized that O’Keefe would be a great complement to his firm. Now the pair meets a couple of times a week at the Depot, going through leads and policies on their laptops, and otherwise working from their respective homes.

For O’Keefe, it all comes back to relationships.

“When I had my own business, I looked at all these chambers of commerce. “You (the Mill Valley Chamber) were the only one who actually called me. You told me about your Christmas party – ‘you should come!” “A ton of introductions have come ever since.”


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