Political, Community and Business Leaders Welcome Chair Robin McCarthy and Honor Outgoing Chair Ishmael Trone
More than 200 guests filled the Viennese Ballroom at the Langham Huntington Hotel for the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Inaugural Gala on July 7, 2017. Chamber members, community leaders and guests celebrated the swearing in of Robin McCarthy as 2017-18 Chair of the Board of the Chamber. Ishmael Trone was honored for his year serving as Chair, as well.
The evening began with a hosted cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by a formal dinner. Hors d’oeuvres served during the hosted cocktail reception included Yuzu Shrimp and Avocado with Tomato Soy Pipette, Tomato, Mushroom and Smoked Gouda Skewer and Grilled Baby Lamb Chops with Red Wine Sauce. Dinner began with a delicious Avocado and Crab Meat Salad followed by roasted Garlic Madascar Gambas and a Seared Beef Medallion, Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes and Summer Asparagus. Deserts was a beautifully presented Fresh Fruit Tart, Hazelnut Prairie Mousse Tower and Fresh Fruit Tart. Wine for the meal was provided by Pasadena’s own Old Oak Cellars. Invocation for the dinner was provided by Fr. Michael Cooper, SCP, of St. Nicholas of Myra Church.
Guests at the Gala included Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Senator Anthony Portantino and Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, with Maria
Tornek. Vartan Gharpetian, Mayor of Glendale attended with his wife Armina. City Council Member Paula Devine of Glendale attended with her husband Art. Also in attendance were Pasadena City College Trustees Ross Selvidge and Hoyt Hilsman. Hollywood Burbank Airport CEO Frank Miller attended, as well. Chanel Boutakidis, 5 Acres Chief Executive Officer attended as did Patricia Breen, President of Pacific Oaks College and Children’s School.
The Chamber awarded its annual Bill Bogaard Scholarship to Lidia Diaz Bernal. Ms. Bernal is an emancipated foster youth who will be matriculating from a local community college to California State University, Los Angeles this fall. Ms. Bernal has been involved as a Young Leader with the Alliance for Children’s Rights and regularly speaks about her experiences as a foster youth. She has also been involved as a student worker at Guardian Scholars at LACC. With Guardian Scholars, Lidia helped with the office's day-to-day operations, and planned large events such as the organization’s many barbeques and their first annual baseball game. Ms. Bernal intends to pursue a sociology degree and intends to work with foster youth, like herself, upon graduation. As Ms. Bernal said at the event, “Every event, pamphlet, panel, and chat I’ve contributed to is helping my colleagues have a better life that they could not have imagined before. Being fortunate enough to have all these opportunities, I’ve been inspired to be a director of a Guardian Scholars Program in order to allow current and former foster youth to fulfill their higher educational goals and find their voice, just like I did.”
Tom Daly, Lauren Schneider and Tom Daly presented the Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP scholarship went to Evelyn Segura. Ms.
Segura is also an emancipated foster youth who will be transferring to Cal State LA in the fall. Evelyn is a 27 year-old single mother who is raising her daughter by herself. In addition to spending quality time with her daughter, Evelyn volunteers at her church and enjoys hiking in nature. Evelyn will transfer to Cal State LA where she intends to get a bachelor of Science degree in Public Health. As she said at the event, “I see myself working with underserved populations, perhaps in a community clinic educating the public.”
Helen Romero Shaw of the Gas Company presented the company’s scholarship to Pasadena High School graduate Keilana Truong. Ms. Truong was a part of Green Club, Recreation Club, and Young Life. As a member for two years, she served as her school’s National Honor Society Treasurer and is a California Scholarship Federation Life Long Member. Much of her time this year was put into Pasadena High’s Associated Student Body. Keilana was also a member of the Pasadena Volleyball program for all four years of her high school career, her final two years on the varsity squad. Keilana graduated in the Top Ten of her class and also received the Pasadena High’s Bulldog Award. In the fall, Keilana will be attending University of California, San Diego. She is going to major in Political Science and Public Law in hopes of being an attorney one day and maybe working with the Innocence Project.
The Pasadena Chamber also recognized A.J. Longo & Associates a small member business Corporate Citizen of the Year. Blake Longo accepted the award for the company. A.J. Longo and Associates was established in 1970 by Anthony J. (Tony) Longo, and moved to Pasadena in 1990 and provides a full range of commercial insurance to the local community. A.J. Longo and Associates’ philanthropic efforts support the Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena, Special Olympics and Villa de Vida Pasadena. A.J. Longo and Associates has been a member of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association for more than 25 years and Blake Longo volunteered to serve on the Chamber Board of Directors from 2009 to 2015. In presenting the award, Chamber CEO Paul Little remarked, “Recognizing the longstanding commitment to excellent customer service and its important role as a contributor to our local economy, as well as its philanthropic and charitable efforts, I am proud to recognize A.J. Longo & Associates as one of the recipients of the Corporate Citizen of the Year 2016.”
Villa Gardens was recognized as the large business Corporate Citizen for 2017. Dmitry Estrin, Executive Director at Villa Gardens accepted the award. Villa Gardens was established more than 70 years ago as a retirement community for teachers and serves a diverse community or retired persons. Villa Gardens is also consistently cited as one of Pasadena’s top retirement communities by Pasadena Magazine, Pasadena Weekly and others. Villa Gardens is a longstanding and very supportive member of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association and hosts Chamber Ambassador meetings each month, and was very generous in providing space for small group meetings for our travel program and when we were helping the Economic Development Department gain input from industry sectors related to the minimum wage increase last year. Villa’s Sylvia Samuelson also served on the Board of Directors of the Chamber from 2008 to 2012. In addition, Villa Gardens and its residents are very supportive of the local community. Villa also supports Elizabeth House, the YWCA, St. Andrews Young Adult Ministry and assists with efforts to feed the homeless during the holidays. Recently, residents started a summer camp called Camp Villa where they bring young children from the local community in to swim, play games and interact. In presenting the award, Mr. Little noted, “The Board of Directors of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, in recognition of the retirement community’s longstanding service to Pasadena and its residents, chose Villa Gardens as Corporate Citizen of the Year for 2017 in the large business category.”
Corporate Citizens were presented with commendations from Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Senator Anthony Portantino, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek and Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s field deputy Christian Daly. Outgoing Chamber Chair Ishmael Trone was also recognized with commendations, as well.
Mr. Trone noted the strong efforts the Chamber has made to support local students with a financial literacy program for middle schoolers at Eliot Arts Magnet, as well as efforts to identify and create opportunities for student interns. Mr. Trone also announced the formation of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Foundation to solicit grant funds to continue the Chamber’s work-based learning efforts. The Foundation is in the final stages of approvals and is awaiting its determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service.
In her acceptance remarks, Ms. McCarthy noted the Chamber’s ongoing commitment to work-based learning experiences for local
students. She expressed a hope that efforts could be expanded to include students at Pasadena City College. She also looks forward to the Chamber working closely with its non-profit members to provide support and assistance in their diverse missions.
Chamber members contributed thousands of dollars’ worth of valuable and unique services, products and treats for the silent auction. This year, items included travel packages, golf outings, entertainment, event and sports tickets, dinners, opportunities to explore local attractions and VIP treatment at local wonders. Proceeds support Chamber activities and member services.
This year’s silent auction offered exotic trips to Punta Mita in Mexico, the Ultimate Hamilton on Broadway experience and airfare, lodging and tickets to the final rounds of the U.S. Open Golf Championship. Chamber members donated items including a VIP experience at the Coldplay concert provided by the Rose Bowl and Dodger tickets from attorney Richard McDonald and Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie. Rose Bowl Premium Seating donated a VIP experience to see UCLA play and the Pasadena Convention Center donated tickets to UCLA vs. Hawaii.
Local distiller Stark Spirits donated a tour and tasting for ten at the distillery. Chef Michel Eulis ofLet’s Celebrate Catering donated a catered dinner for four andDave Wagner of Go-Green Solutions donated design of a custom kitchen remodel. Habitat for Humanity, San Gabriel Valley donated a KitchenAid Ultimate Outdoor Grill.
Theater tickets were donated by A Noise Within, The Theatre at Boston Court and the Pasadena Playhouse. DigiStack donated tickets to Jersey Boys at the Pantages in Hollywood and Villa Gardens donated concert tickets to the Colburn Orchestra at Ambassador Auditorium.
Gold Sponsors are Kaiser Permanente and Wells Fargo. Silver Sponsors are Hollywood Burbank Airport, Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pacific Oaks College and Children's School, Parsons Corporation, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Southern California Gas Company and U.S. Bank.