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Community Leadership & Service to be Celebrated at Chamber’s Annual Awards Gala 2022

The Santa Maria Valley Chamber’s 2022 Annual Awards Gala will celebrate community excellence and honor the individuals, organizations and businesses who have shown their commitment to making a positive impact on the Santa Maria Valley community. The awards ceremony will take place September 1st from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Veterans’ Memorial Center in Santa Maria.

“The Chamber is thrilled to once again gather with our community and celebrate a few of the individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations that make Santa Maria such a great community,” said Glenn Morris, President & CEO of the Chamber. “This year’s recipients continue the tradition of excellence and unique contributions that makes Santa Maria the best place to live, work, and do business on the Central Coast!”

This year’s award recipients include:

  • Ambassador of the Year:  Kelsi Fitzgerald of Veritas Innovative Pest & Termite Solutions
  • Large Business of the Year:  Atlas Copco Mafi-Trench
  • Non-Profit of the Year:  Transitions-Mental Health Association
  • Non-Profit of the Year:  United Way
  • Robert F. Grogan Public Service Award:  Dan Blough, Santa Barbara County Planning Commission (Posthumous)
  • Robert P. Hatch Citizen of the Year:  Pastor Carl Nielsen
  • Small Business of the Year:  Cugini’s Pizzeria & Trattoria
  • Tourism Partner of the Year:  Cubanissimo Cuban Coffee House & Cafe
  • Young Professional of the Year: Robert Tolan
Young professional Robert Tolan is being recognized for his work with local Veterans organizations.

" This award is a testament to everyone around me who has supported me and has help me grow in the Veteran community," Tolan said. "I love honoring our local Military Heroes and helping them across the country achieve the American dream of homeownership! This award and others is an important part of our local community. It not only honors those who are doing so much, but it highlights how amazing our local community is."

The large and small businesses of the year were both recognized for their longstanding history and support of the local Santa Maria Valley community.

"Atlas Copco Mafi-Trench Company LLC puts about $20 million in salaries into the local economy and maybe $5 million in goods purchased from local vendors, not to mention taxes.  Successful local businesses make Santa Maria successful and a better place to live," explained James Reilly, General Manager for Atlas Copco Mafi-Trench Company LLC. " We are thrilled when others, like the Chamber of Commerce, recognize our value to our employees and community."

Cubanissimo, a local Cuban cafe being recognized as the 2022 Tourism Partner of the Year, agrees that when local businesses thrive, it benefits the entire community.

"We deeply enjoy seeing others visit and love our community. Working together we are all stronger and to receive recognition for our efforts is amazing," said Cubanissimo co-owner Chrystal Trenado. 

"Celebrating our local businesses is a wonderful way to grow deeper connections that allow us to flourish together. We're just so honored to be awarded Tourism Partner of the Year. It was unexpected and exciting to see our team's efforts be recognized."

Citizen of the Year Carl Nielsen, who is being recognizes for his work with Serve Santa Maria, says the award really belongs to all the volunteers who give back locally.

"I’m humbled that the Chamber of Commerce thinks I am worthy of honor.  But it is not about me," Nielsen said. "Serve Santa Maria is the hundreds of volunteers who give their time and abilities to bless the parks, schools, churches and private residents in the community who need some help. "

In addition to honoring local businesses and individuals, the Chamber will honor its outgoing board members and install their new Board of Directors.

"Our Chamber events are an opportunity for our members to engage with fellow businesses and encourage support of each other," explained Sandra Dickerson, CEO of HR Your Way and incoming Board Chair for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber. "The awards gala highlight businesses in our community that many may not be aware of. It’s a great spotlight on the impact these business provide."

Community members are encourages to join us at the 2022 Annual Awards Gala! Tickets and additional information about the Annual Awards Gala can be found at

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