Leadership change at the Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto

Barbara Gross stepping down from general manager position

Barbara Gross, the general manager of Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto, is stepping down from her position after 15 years of service, the hotel announced Wednesday, April 15.

When the general-manager position opened at the downtown hotel, Gross, whose career has always centered on service of one type or another, jumped at the opportunity. Under her management, the Garden Court Hotel has achieved a Forbes Global Four Star Hotel rating, named the 2004 Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business, among other awards, according to a press release.

Gross was honored in 2005 with the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce Athena Award, an honor given worldwide to "individuals who are recognized for professional excellence, providing valuable service to their community and actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills."

Although she is stepping down from her management responsibilities, Gross will continue to represent The Garden Court Hotel in business and professional groups in the community, "building on the many strong relationships she has established over the years," the hotel said.

Director of Rooms Division Jeffery Phillips will step in as acting general manager.

"We are grateful to Barbara for her many contributions to the Garden Court's success. We wish her all the best as she steps back, and we look toward Jeffery's leadership, and all colleagues at The Garden Court, to continue our award-winning accommodations and the service for which we are known," a statement reads.

Raised in New York City, Gross attended the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and became an elementary school teacher. After marrying husband Michael, the family moved to Portola Valley in the early 1970s due to his job.

Gross' charitable efforts have not been limited to the hospitality industry. She has chaired the Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, government action council and downtown marketing committee, and served on the advisory board to the Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professional Association.

Organizations including the Stanford Health Library, the Community Breast Health Project, Palo Alto Partners in Education, Palo Altans for Government Effectiveness (PAGE), East Palo Alto elementary schools and the Peninsula Stroke Association have all benefited from Gross' leadership.

In 2005, when Gross was interviewed by the Weekly about being selected for the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce Athena Award, she reflected on the responsibilities of women in the work-world: "A woman's role continues to get harder and more confusing as our lives get more complex. The pressure is so extreme. You want to be devoted, committed and excellent in what you do."

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19 people like this
Posted by Judy Kleinberg, CEO, Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:04 am

As a friend and professional colleague of Barbara Gross since the early 80s, I have come to admire her talents, intelligence, generosity, cheerfulness, grace under pressure, and commitment to Palo Alto's quality of life for all its residents and visitors. She is one of the brightest and most valuable jewels in our crown. Her community work through the Garden Court Hotel has made our community far stronger than it would have been without her vision and active support of so many causes and organizations. What a legacy she has created! The Chamber of Commerce is only one of dozens of organizations that are stronger because of her participation and wise counsel. Thank goodness she will be continuing to connect the hotel to the community, as I'm sure Jeffery Phillips will do as well. We wish them both continuing success and fulfillment and thank them both for being such effective leaders in our community.

6 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

@Judy...having known Barbara since the mid 80's myself, I couldn't have said it any better than you just did.

7 people like this
Posted by Karen Nierenberg
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 16, 2015 at 2:30 pm

There are probably few people in our nonprofit community who have not benefited from the generosity and commitment of Barbara Gross in her role as General Manager at the Garden Court Hotel. Her level of involvement and caring has elevated the hotel to a place in the community that is unique and greatly valued. So many of us who volunteer in Palo Alto know the Garden Court as a viable venue for our events and our fundraisers, and we. in turn, support the hotel by referring as many guests as we can.
Barbara is a woman who has led with vision, commitment, grace and patience. Certainly on behalf of Bay Area Cancer Connections, I want to say a sincere and huge thank you for all that she and the Garden Court (because of her) have done in support of our organization.

2 people like this
Posted by Debbie Mytels
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Barbara is a wonderful community leader. Over the years, I have asked her for advice or help with several community projects, and she has unfailingly been responsive -- even on issues that were outside her daily world of work. Her generosity in supporting community activities is also well known. Barbara is one of the people who contributes to making Palo Alto a supportive, engaged community, and I'd like to join many in thanking her as she moves into the next stage of her career.

2 people like this
Posted by Patricia Kunz
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2015 at 3:01 pm

I have always admired Barbara for her professionalism and dedication to the community and to the Garden Court Hotel. And, she has always been a friend and mentor to me over the years. I wish her all of the best!

1 person likes this
Posted by Robert Kelley, Artistic Director, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm

All hail Barbara Gross! A great City deserves a great champion like you, but rarely finds one. Your commitment to the community, its quality of life, and especially its arts has enriched Palo Alto in thousands of ways and made it a destination not just for technology, communication, medicine, and education, but for its culture and compassion as well. TheatreWorks is immensely grateful to you and the Garden Court Hotel for many years of exceptional support. Together you have been a cornerstone of our growth as a leader in the arts in Silicon Valley. Thank you, friend to all--we hope you will continue your fine work in the community for years to come. Robert Kelley, Artistic Director, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

1 person likes this
Posted by Stephanie Martinson
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Congratulations to Barbara. I admire her leadership, collaboration and sponsorships here in Palo Alto. I'm also quite excited to see that Jeffery will be leading the Garden Court Hotel during this transition. I'm positive that he will step forward into his new role with the same commitment and enthusiasm he demonstrated in Leadership Palo Alto. Congrats to you both!

Like this comment
Posted by Anita Cowen
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:05 pm

I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Barbara at the Garden Court Hotel for three years. Simply put, she is the most genuine and generous woman I have ever known.

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