BALTIMORE -- Peggy Daidakis, executive director of the Baltimore Convention Center, will retire in September after 36 years in the position and 44 years in the convention industry, Mayor Brandon Scott said.
In 1978, former Mayor William Donald Schaefer appointed Daidakis to to the team that opened the convention center. The building opened up to host events the following year.
Formed Mayor Clarence "Du" Burns asked her to lead the operation in 1986, making her the first female director of a national convention center, Scott's office said.
"I want to thank Peggy for her service to the City and its residents for 49 faithful years," said Scott. "I am genuinely grateful for her leadership in marketing and serving tourists and conventioneers over the last 44 years. I know Baltimoreans will join me in congratulating Peggy for her exceptional service and wishing her the best in the next stage of her life's journey."
A history on the convention center's website says the complex was one of the first anchor institutions in the revitalization of the Inner Harbor, opening before Harborplace and the National Aquarium.
Daidakis was "instrumental" in planning the expansion of the center in the 1990s, tripling its size to become the largest public meeting space and exhibition venue in the state, the mayor's office said.
"I am very proud of the service I have provided the residents of Baltimore and the hospitality industry," said Daidakis. "I am appreciative of all the support I have received, and I am confident that I am leaving the Center in very capable hands."
The convention center hosts more than 125 events a year drawing nearly 500,000 attendees, according to its website.
Daidakis joined the Schaefer administration in 1973. Her retirement is effective Sept. 1.
Chuck Tildon, board chair, Baltimore Convention & Tourism Board thanked Daidakis for nearly five decades serving the city.
"As the first female leader of a national convention center, Peggy's contributions to the hospitality industry extend far beyond the city of Baltimore," he said. "She will be missed but we wish her all the best on her next journey and thank her for her vision, leadership and passion through the past 49 years."
Deputy Mayor Ted Carter will work with the city's Department of Human Resources to identify a successor, the mayor's office said.
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