On Sunday, April 22nd, 135 community and business leaders, family, friends and supporters gathered for the Chamber’s Annual Leadership Awards. Throughout the day we celebrated the impressive nominees in each category: Business Leader, Young Professional, and Citizen of the Year.
When we consider Jefferson County and what makes this a unique place to live and work there are many qualities that set us apart, however, the similarity that we saw on Sunday as we introduced our nominees, is perhaps the most remarkable: They, every single one, are all leaders who lift others up as they work to achieve their goals.
Collaboration and community-mindedness are the qualities that are perhaps the most distinct in Jefferson County, especially when we compare ourselves to other communities across the nation. Our winner of the 2017 Business Leader, Betsy Davis, Executive Director of the NW School of Wooden BoatBuilding, said it perfectly in her acceptance speech: “I am inspired because I see leaders of “non-profits” working with the professionalism often associated with the for-profit sector. And because I see leaders of “for-profits” blending their entrepreneurial zeal and attention to “the bottom line” with attention to their employees, their community, and the natural world (a “triple bottom line”), more frequently associated, perhaps, with the non-profit sector. It some cases, it seems that it’s just a legal definition that separates for-profits and not-for-profits. Locally I’ve seen both exploring certification as a B-Corp – a designation reflecting that the organization chooses to “make business a force for good” – purpose driven, creating benefits for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.”
At the Chamber we see this every day, our businesses and organizations are all working (and frequently together) to invigorate our local economy, build jobs and enrich our resilience as a community. This is the learned and practiced skill here in Jefferson county that will allow us to strive and achieve successes that rural communities in other regions might see slip by. Succinctly stated, we are uniquely equipped to seize opportunities in large part because of our willingness to collaborate and innovate together.
On Sunday, we heard from several people how wonderful it was to see such a rich spectrum of organizations and leaders being recognized, those who have been at it a very long time and those who are fresh in their passions, we saw maritime and local agriculture, art innovators and, Community building Innovators and food system innovators all represented. Our 2017 winner of the Young Professional of the Year, Sam Lillie, CEO and Founder of Vinder (an online Farmer’s Market for home gardeners that helps communities take back their food system, reduce food waste, and makes local, organic produce affordable for everyone.) said that Jefferson County; because of many people efforts, the creation of our Food Systems Council and Vinder’s recent nomination as one of the top 15 most innovative companies in the world for food distribution at South by Southwest's Food+City Challenge 2018, is now on the leading edge of Food System Innovation in the nation.
A distinct highlight of the Annual Leadership Awards is always our Citizen of the Year Nominees, this is the time and space where we recognize the often invisible, but certainly always impactful, work of so many of our neighbors. This, too, is where we were inspired anew as we learned of our nominees’ hard work around affordable housing, social justice, intergenerational mentorship, food system resilience, community-building events and simply giving and contributing to our community. On that note, we had two extraordinary nominees for Citizen of the Year resulting in a tie between Melanie Bozak and Rita Hubbard (and a truce in the friendly rivalry of Kiwanis and Rotary). Both Melanie and Rita have poured time, energy and heart into making a difference at the community level as well as touching the lives of so many of us personally.
A special acknowledgement should go to nominee James Lagergren of Rainshadow Inspection Services, who has been a vocal advocate for other millennial leaders as well as encouraging community engagement among his peers, to this end he donated several tickets to our event to enable the participation of those that might not otherwise be able to afford to contribute to this exchange and celebration of local leadership. This is again a perfect example of leadership that uplifts and inspires others.
Our thanks to all of our exemplary nominees for Business Leader of the Year, Betsy Davis, Amy Howard, Karle and Jens Coppenrath; our nominees for Young Professional of the Year, Sam Lillie, James Lagergren, and Andrea Love; our nominees for Citizen of the Year, Rita Hubbard, Melanie Bozak, Judith Alexander, Martha Trolin, Matt Woodward and Mark Cooper. You all inspire and uplift. Thank you.
Also a sincere thanks to all of our sponsors for the event, all are organizations that value community, local leadership, innovation and collaboration: Coldwell Banker Best Homes, The Business Guides, New American Funding, Wallyworks Construction, Admiral Ship Supply, The Old Whiskey Mill, Alchemy Bistro and Wine Bar, and Siren’s Pub. Additionally, a big thank you to The City of Port Townsend for their ongoing support.