Rochester Chamber honors success

Award winners Paul Haig and Parisian's Lara Smolinski.

A stellar list of greater Rochester’s leaders in business, philanthropy, education and government was honored Oct. 25 by the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The largest crowd yet, 500 people, gathered for the sixth annual Sunrise Pinnacle Awards breakfast at the Royal Park Hotel. Channel 7 anchorman Dave LewAllen was the emcee.  In addition to their awards, each winner received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Congressman Gary Peters in appreciation of outstanding and invaluable service to the community, plus a bag of goodies from Whole Foods Market.

The Chamber’s mission is to advance business development in partnership with civic, cultural and educational interests for the benefit of Chamber members and the community. The awards were created to honor entrepreneurs and civic leaders for their innovation, success and contributions to quality of life.

“This is your community; these are your neighbors, your friends, your colleagues,” LewAllen said. “It’s nice to be able to honor them.”

Each award was sponsored by a local business or institution. Sponsor John Fox of the Fox Automotive Group said he’s been able to expand his job base, despite the tough economy of the last few years.

“We live and work in a great community that is very loyal to those businesses in the community,” he said. “That loyalty is one of the reasons we’re succeeding in this economy.”

“The Chamber is one of the reasons this community is so strong,” said Crittenton Chief Operating Officer Greg Partamian.

The winners were:

Chamber Ambassador of the Year-Erika Sklar, for her commitment to the Chamber’s mission.

Arts & Cultural Award-Rochester-Avon Historical Society.

Chamber Board Member of the Year-Judge Nancy Carniak.

Business of the Year-Parisian, which in its 10 years in Rochester Hills has donated funds to more than 100 nonprofit organizations.

Business Woman of the Year-Shirley Gofrank, founder of the Gofrank and Mattina accounting firm.

Community Builder Award- City of Rochester and its DDA for improvements to the Paint Creek Bridge and River Walk.

Customer Service-Penn Station East Coast Subs owners Bernie and Linda Marconi, for excellent customer relations.

Diversity Award-Lori Blaker of TTI Global, for fostering diversity in the community.

Economic Development Award-Oakland County One Stop Shop.

Educator of the Year Award-Dr. Rubel Shelly, President of Rochester College.

Excellence in Dining-Silver Spoon restaurant.

Going Green Award-Colleen Brnabic, who founded a company to sell healthy, green health care and cleaning products.

Healthcare Professional of the Year Award-Dr. David Bauer, chief of Crittenton Hospital’s emergency department., which recently logged a 98-percent patient-satisfaction score.

Leadership Greater Rochester Award-Lucia Zuzga.

Lifetime Achievement Award-Kathy White, philanthropist and founder of Aerobic-Slimnastics.

Marketing/Advertising of the Year Award-Nederlander Company.

Nonprofit Achievement Award-Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association.

Outstanding Community Service Award-Mary Jo Byrd.

Philanthropy Award-Kidz1st Pediatrics, which has distributed 10,000 books through the Reach Out and Read program.

Small Business of the Year Award-Haig’s of Rochester.

Steady Growth & Profitability Award-Kostal Kontakt Systeme, Inc., a German company with a growing presence in Rochester Hills.

Wellness at Work Award-Bernie Hung, chairman of the Employee Unlimited Potential program at Crittenton Hospital.

Young Professional of the Year Award-Jay Russ of Huntington Bank for his significant commitment to nonprofit organizations. “He is an inspiration to young business professionals in our area,” LewAllen said.

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