“Never one to shy away from a challenge,” as she told the crowd at last weekend’s installation gala, Jennifer Nitzkowski of Carbahal & Co. has taken the reins of the Davis Chamber of Commerce for 2014. An estimated 250 people celebrated with her at UC Davis’ Freeborn Hall.
As a 16-year member of the Davis-based CPA firm, she’s a long way from her family’s general store in a small town in southern Oregon. But the work ethic she learned there, as well as the responsibility she shouldered when closing the store and counting receipts, will translate to her new responsibilities, Nitzkowski said.
She pledged to build on the foundation laid by outgoing Chamber chair Gregg Herrington of The Yackzan Group and by Executive Director Kemble Pope by helping to implement five strategic objectives in the Chamber’s 2020 Plan: enhance membership value, strengthen community relations, cultivate local and regional economic vitality, proactively influence government and grow a world-class workforce.
Membership value has been “paramount” for the Chamber over the past year, said Herrington, as he handed out several awards to key Chamber members.
The Member of the Year Award went to UC Davis, which continues to be a stalwart supporter of the Davis Chamber and which affects every business in Davis, Herrington said. Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for technology management and corporate relations, accepted the award for Chancellor Linda Katehi.
UC Davis student interns are vital to the success of the daily work at the Chamber offices, and in the entire community, Pope said in a news release. In addition, student groups consistently support Chamber activities, among them Rotaract, Dance Team, ROTC, ASUCD, KDVS, Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh and IFC/Panhellenic Council.
Additionally, many departments and organizations on campus play vital roles in the success of the Chamber, including the Office of the Chancellor, Government & Community Relations, Office of Research, Staff Assembly, Conference & Event Services, Unitrans, Seed Central, Aggie Athletics, Mondavi Center, Admissions, Arboretum, Bookstore, College of Arts & Sciences and Internship and Career Center.
The Chairman’s Award for the Director of the Year went to Don Palm, dean of the Sacramento City College Davis Center and interim dean of Sac City’s West Sacramento Center. In his fifth year on the Chamber board, Palm served as both secretary of the board and chairman of the Government Relations Committee.
“His steady and determined leadership, unwavering dedication and ability to build consensus have played an important role in the success of the organization,” Pope said in a news release.
Susan Kirby, the internship coordinator at Da Vinci Charter Academy, was honored as the 2013 Ambassador of the Year.
The installation gala also provided the venue for presentation of the community’s top citizen honors. Ann Evans received the C.A. Covell Trophy as Citizen of the Year and Carri and Jay Ziegler were awarded the A.G. Brinley Plaque for their work to pass five school parcel taxes in five years.
Evans was honored for co-founding two local institutions — the Davis Food Co-op and the Davis Farmers Market — as well as long and deep service on city advisory commissions, the Davis City Council, the Davis Farm-to-School Connection and the Yolo Slow Food movement.
“To be recognized by people who have watched me fail as well as succeed over the years is very humbling,” Evans told the crowd. “I believe in the commons, so I work on public spaces. I build structures and systems, but I want to honor the people who help people. And I’m open to what the next generation has to teach us.”
The Zieglers were hailed for their leadership of parcel tax campaigns that resulted in $77 million to support music, science, libraries and athletics in the Davis schools.
“Seven years ago, we were starting at potential school closures, teacher layoffs and program cancellations,” Jay Ziegler said. “Davis is a place that is special because we invest in our children and invest in our schools.”
Also recognized were the Chamber’s continuing directors: Christina Blackman, vice chair, Yolo Federal Credit Union; Paul Mamoulelis, secretary, Woodland Healthcare; Diane Archer, treasurer, Tandem Properties; Herrington; Mabel Salon, UC Davis Government & Community Relations; Palm; William “Doby” Fleeman, Davis Ace Hardware; Rebecca L. Brandt, PG&E; Christina Horne, Brooks Painting; Jason Taormino, Coldwell Banker-Doug Arnold Real Estate; Jane Millett, First Northern Bank; Janet Wagner, Sutter Davis Hospital; Tamiko Gaines, HM Clause; and Justin Lowenthal, Lowenthal APC.
Outgoing directors are Rose Cholewinski, SwimAmerica Davis; Nancy Hannell, The Davis Enterprise; and Kristin Hill, Ink Monkey Graphics.