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Matthew Kurtas – Cornell

Certified Sommelier and Private Club Manager

Road to Greatness

Brother Matthew Kurtas, Cornell ’14, certified sommelier, certified club manager, New York Alpha Bond Number 1886, and Iron Phi #355, was tested in the waters of crisis before the pandemic began in early 2020 as a business leader in the Pittsburgh area.

Kurtas, the general manager/chief operating officer of greater Pittsburgh’s Edgeworth Club, took the job at 25-years old, using the knowledge he learned of board relations and Roberts Rules from Phi Delta Theta, plus the lifetime of wisdom from his also-club-manager-father Michael T. Kurtas Jr., CCM, CCE. Kurtas’s prior employment included learning and leadership at the prestigious Union League Club of Philadelphia, the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club of Maine, and the exclusive Loxahatchee Club of Jupiter, Florida, founded 1985.

Kurtas took the job soon after a historic loss and claim related to a 330-year-old oak tree falling onto the building in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. He was hired as a change agent to rectify the club’s budget, to improve the services of the club, and to develop a long-term capital plan for sustainability. Shortly into his term, after cleaning up the “oak tree incident” of 2017, Kurtas responded to a building crisis, where the ornate plaster ceiling in the rotunda lobby collapsed two stories to the marble floors below. Luckily, no one was hurt. Engaging crisis-management tactics, Kurtas oversaw $560,000 in insurance disbursements, a communication and construction schedule, and restoration of the historic space with marginal interruptions to operations and at no cost to his members. All this, just as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the country in early 2020. Kurtas guided the club through multiple shutdowns and interruptions related to COVID-19 and remains the GM at the club to date.

In his time at Cornell University, Brother Kurtas devoted much of his studies to the business practices of private clubs and food and beverage operations at the School of Hotel Administration, as well as the practice of winemaking in the Finger Lakes Region at the Cornell School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He has spoken to student groups and professionals about raising the bar, figuratively, when it comes to programming a proper wine list. In his volunteer commitments, Brother Kurtas is a member of the Pittsburgh Club Management Association of America, and he has five years of committee service to the national organization, the Club Management Association of America, through which he is certified as a CCM. Kurtas continues to serve in his third year as a director on the board of directors for the International Wine Society of Club Managers. He is a member of the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals and is currently pursuing his Certified Hospitality Accounts Executive designation. He uses his certified sommelier status through the Court of Master Sommeliers to help others find their passion for the world of beverage, particularly wine. While Kurtas enjoys volunteerism and certification, he notes most certificates are simply licenses to learn, giving yourself permission to fall in love with a topic repeatedly.

To top things off, Matthew celebrates the 11-year anniversary of good health and recovery from brain surgery and a stroke this November of 2021! Kurtas resides in Shippenville, Pennsylvania, with his incredibly supportive wife, Alexis Marie Burns, and their sassy miniature Schnauzer, Ruby.

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