Patriotism abounded at the Davis Chamber of Commerce’s 108th annual installation gala Friday evening, from the rousing rendition of the national anthem that opened the festivities to the members of the UC Davis Army ROTC unit who were the evening’s servers.
Paying homage to USO shows of yore, members of the UCD Dance Team jived to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and Davis City Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson took the stage as the mistress of ceremonies, dressed as Christina Aguilera-meets-Uncle Sam.
Retired Marines from throughout Yolo County and airmen from Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield were honored guests, seated among the business and civic leaders who filled Freeborn Hall at UC Davis.
Saying he’s thrilled to be taking the Chamber’s reins, newly installed board chairman Gregg Herrington, president of the Yackzan Group, was brimming with optimism about Davis’ potential.
“I’m excited because Davis is so well-positioned to economically thrive in the coming years,” Herrington said, adding that business growth means generating good jobs, customers for local businesses and tax dollars at the same time.
He announced that the Chamber recently established an Economic Development Commission to help retain and attract jobs, and to work collaboratively with the city, the university and other local partners in that effort.
“UC Davis is growing even in the face of declining state support,” he reminded the crowd. “They’ve been streamlining tech transfer and changing the future of employment in Davis. We need to identify opportunities to act and solve some private sector issues to take advantage of the university’s efforts.
“The future is exciting, and I’m excited to be here. And it’s all happening in Davis.”
Herrington succeeds Rose Cholewinski, who owns and operates SwimAmerica in Davis. She looked back with pride on a busy year at the Chamber’s helm, in which she tallied 264 volunteer hours in her mission to promote the Davis business community.
“Every moment was worth it,” she said in an emotional speech in which she thanked her husband, her SwimAmerica colleagues and her fellow board members and staffers at the Chamber.
Cholewinski said she realized the goals she set for her chairmanship: creating a stronger bond between UCD and the local business community, surveying business owners about their needs and then focusing the Chamber’s energy on those needs and increasing the Chamber’s voice and visibility with city leaders.
She stepped down after offering these words of wisdom: “Whatever role you play in whatever business arena, always remember who you serve. The Chamber serves its members. … Spread the word that the Chamber is really important in this community.
“We offer so much — help us keep (the Chamber) great. Stay involved. Let us hear your voice. Shop local.”
Cholewinski recognized four retiring board members — Cary Arnold of Doug Arnold-Coldwell Banker Real Estate and Davis Life Magazine, Bill Alger of Woodland Healthcare, Cara Mengali of The Mortgage Resource Team at Comstock Mortgage and Jeremy Brooks of Brooks Painting.
She recognized Jennifer Anderson and Doby Fleeman of Davis Ace as the Chamber Members of the Year; Brooks as the recipient of the Chairman’s Award; and Jeanie Bennett of Gourmet Solutionz as the Ambassador of the Year.
Continuing board members also were recognized: Jennifer Nitzkowski of Carbahal & Co., vice chair; Don Palm, dean of the Sacramento City College Davis Center, secretary; Diane Archer of Tandem Properties, treasurer; Cholewinski, immediate past chair; Nancy Hannell of The Davis Enterprise; Kristin Hill of Ink Monkey; Fleeman of Davis Ace; Rebecca L. Brandt of PG&E; Mabel Salon of UC Davis Government and Community Relations; Anthony Johnson of Premier West Bank; Christina Horne of Brooks Painting; Paul Mamoulelis of Woodland Healthcare; Jane Millett of First Northern Bank; Julie Morris of Marrone Bio Innovations; Vera Smith of Wiscombe Funeral Home; Jason Taormino of Coldwell Banker-Doug Arnold Real Estate; and Janet Wagner of Sutter Davis Hospital.
The evening also provided the opportunity for public recognition of Davis’ top citizen award winners. Rick Gonzales received the C.A. Covell Award as Citizen of the Year for his longtime leadership of the Mexican American Concilio of Yolo County and his commitment to educational, social and economic justice and civil rights.
Gonzales pointed with pride to the 630 college scholarships worth $250,000 that have been presented to graduating high school seniors by the Concilio over the past 13 years.
Known for his loquaciousness, Gonzales came right to the point with his gratitude on this night: “Thank you for this distinguished award. I am moved.”
Janet Boulware received the A.G. Brinley Plaque for creating and building the Davis Bridge Educational Foundation, which provides after-school tutoring for at-risk and low-income Davis students. The program was founded in 2004 with 15 students and eight volunteer tutors at Montgomery Elementary School and has expanded to Korematsu and Patwin elementary schools, Harper Junior High and Davis High School. Last year, the Davis Bridge Foundation and its 180 tutors served 250 students.
“The first kids are seniors at DHS now, and most are the first in their family to go to college,” Boulware said. “That brings me a lot of personal joy.”
Chancellor Linda Katehi welcomed everyone to campus, and thanked business leaders for their support of the institution during recent financial challenges.
— Reach Debbie Davis at [email protected] or 530-747-8054. Follow her on Twitter at @debbiedavis15