Niki Leondakis, president and chief operating officer of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, oversees operations, marketing, human resources, and social responsibility initiatives for the company’s 40 boutique hotels and chef-driven, destination restaurants throughout the US and Canada.
Leondakis joined Kimpton in 1993 as director of restaurant operations. In 1996 she was promoted to vice president of restaurant operations and in 1999 she became senior vice president of restaurant operations. In 2001, Leondakis was promoted to executive vice president, hotels and restaurants. She became chief operating officer in 2003.
An active member of the steering and executive committees, Leondakis has been a key player in the creation and development of Kimpton’s values and culture, and in leading the growth and expansion of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in the US In 1998, she formed Kimpton’s Mentor Program that aids in the development and advancement of emerging leaders. In 2003, Leondakis launched Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Diversity Initiative, which is committed to creating a culture that acknowledges, understands, and celebrates differences among people. She is also responsible for furthering the mission of Kimpton University, an education and training program that inspires personal and professional development and growth.
Prior to joining the Kimpton, Leondakis worked as a food and beverage director for the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company in Marina Del Rey, Calif., Atlanta and San Francisco, from 1985 to 1993. She began her hospitality career as a manager for Marriott Hotels in 1982 in Nashville, Tenn.
Leondakis has received several industry awards, including being named one of the “100 Most Influential Women” by the San Francisco Business Times from 2002 to 2006, being recognized as one of “30 Women Power Players” by Nation’s Restaurant News in 2002, and named one of the “Most Powerful Women in Travel” by Travel Agent Magazine that same year.
An avid contributor to the community, Leondakis has donated her time and expertise to boards of directors for several nonprofit organizations including Dress for Success, an international nonprofit organization that provides job interview suits and career development assistance to low-income women, the National Restaurant Association and the University of San Francisco Hospitality Program, for which she gives speeches to women around the country on career development and marketing.
Leondakis holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant management and travel administration from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. A native of West Springfield, Mass., Leondakis now resides in Hillsborough, Calif., with her husband.