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Recognize a Leader

Recognition Matters.

Turns out, people like recognition. They are happier, more productive, and more engaged. The community benefits when people understand what good work others are doing. It inspires others to go out and do good work, too! Recognition is an important part of a healthy business environment. It Leads Business Growth. And we're here to facilitate the path to recognition.

Consider nominating an organization, individual, team, co-worker, neighbor, friend - whomever is appropriate - for recognition by the Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce. They (and you) will be glad you did.

Annual Honors

Citizen of the Year

The Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award is presented to an individual citizen of the Rockford Region who has made an extraordinary contribution to the welfare and progress of the community, generally over a period of years. The honoree is traditionally announced at the Annual Dinner.

Citizen of the Year Honorees:

2023 – Rebecca Epperson, Chartwell Agency
2022 - Jennifer Furst, FurstStaffing
2021 – Rhonda Greer Robinson, National Assoc. for the Advancement of Colored People
2020 – Gary Anderson, Gary W. Anderson Architects
2019 – LoRayne Logan, workplace
2018 – Bill Roop, Alpine Bank
2017 – Brent Brodeski, Savant Capital Management
2016 – Dave Rydell, Bergstrom
2015 – Mike Brown, YMCA of Rock River Valley
2014 – Jeff Fahrenwald, Rockford University
2013 – Dan Loescher, LOESCHER & Associates, Ltd.
2012 – Mike Robinson, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center
2011 – James L. Keeling, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLC
2010 – Barb Berman
2009 – Robert Funderburg, The Funderburg Foundation
2008 – Jon Lundin, posthumously
2007 – Mike Dunn, Chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority Board
2006 – Sue Grans, William Charles

Citizen of the Year

Women-In-Business Awards

Emerging Leader of the Year (formerly Woman Business Leader of Tomorrow)
Designed to honor a female professional in the early stages of her career, this honoree exhibits leadership skills, a commitment to professional growth and contributes positively to her team and/or organization. This individual is hard-working, passionate and eager to learn.

Emerging Leader of the Year Honorees:

2023 - Odessa Walker, Rockford Housing Authority
2022 - Emily Burke, Thacker Financial Northwestern Mutual
2021 - Julie Cline, OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center
2020 - Sarah Lambert, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
2019 - Carrie Zethmayr, Zethmayr LLC
2018 - Jocelyn Hare, ServPro of Rockford
2017 - Britney Lindgren, Rockford Art Deli
2016 - Pamela Murphy, MurphyRealty
2015 - Chelsea Hardacre, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center
2014 - Mika Doyle, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center
2013 - Stacy Wallace, LDR Construction Services, Inc.
2012 - RoseAnn Taphorn, North American Tool
2011 - Heather Kelley, Argyle Marketing
2010 - Veronika Blake, Hamilton Sundstrand
2009 - Mary Cacioppi, Walter Wayne Commercial Real Estate
2008 - Joy Baldwin, Alpine Bank
2007 - Amanda Hamaker, Rock River Valley Girl Scouts
2006 - Holly Swanson, TV51
2005 - Melesia Boyer, Sub Source
2004 - Leslie Roxworthy, Velasco & Associates
2003 - Takiyah Franklin, United Way of RRV
2002 - Denise Noe, Janet Wattles Center
2001 - Carry Britnell, Staff Management

Woman Business Owner of the Year
Designed to honor a female entrepreneur/business-owner (minimum 51% female ownership) this honoree exhibits leadership skills and a commitment to her craft. The individual is dedicated to her organization, her team and her clients – and is able to demonstrate examples of business success.

Woman Business Owner Honorees:

2023 - Dr. Elisha Robinson, Integrative Healing Center
2022 - Tracey Fults, Medicare 411
2021 - Toni Vanderheyden, Keller Williams Realty Signature
2020 - Danna Krischke, State Farm
2019 - Laura Bennett, Trekk, Inc.
2018 - Laurie Miller, 2HB Solutions
2017 - Jean Crosby, Bershire Hathaway Homeservices Crosby Starck Real Estate
2016 - Stephanie Koch, Mary’s Market
2015 - Jackie Gommel, Gommel Design
2014 - Janna Becherer, Brynwood Relationship Counseling/Pathways EAP
2013 - LoRayne Logan, workplace
2012 - Patti Thayer, Thayer Lighting
2011 - Rebecca Kopf, PR Etc., Inc.
2010 - Mary Jo Hare, ServPro of Rockford
2009 - Bonnie Smith, Accurate Accounting & Payroll Services, LLC
2008 - Mary Ann Norwood, Pathways EAP
2007 - Jean Vitale, Beef-A-Roo
2006 - Judy Johnson, River District Catering
2005 - Darlene Furst, Furst & Associates
2004 - Mary Jo Scordato, MS2 Printing
2003 - Kathy Velasco, Velasco & Associates
2002 - Judy Pike, Acme Grinding
2001 - Dee Premo, Whitehead Realtors
2000 - Tina Olsen, Flour Flower
1999 - Ginette DeRive, BTM Engineering
1998 - Fran Morrissey, Staff Management
1997 - Linda Bennehoff, Chicago Title Company
1996 - Jan Mansfield, Century 21 Country North

Excellence in Leadership (formerly Woman Manager of the Year)
Designed to honor a female professional in a leadership role within her organization, honorees contribute positively to their organization’s success, effectively lead teams, and continually work to grow personally & professionally.

Excellence in Leadership Honorees:

2023 - Deepshikha Shukla, Ph.D., MBA, Rockford University
2022 - Maureen Richards, University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford
2021 - Ann Wasser, Severson Dells Nature Center
2020 - Julie Thomas, Rockford Symphony Orchestra
2019 - Lori Diaz, Rockford Bank & Trust
2018 - Kathryn Pearce, Mercyhealth
2017 - Yvonne Peterson, Heritage Woods
2016 - Lesly Couper, Alpine Bank
2015 - Dr. Connie Vitali, Rockford Memorial Hospital
2014 - Amy Ott, Chicago-Rockford International Airport
2013 - Shannon Scheffel, Harlem Community Center
2012 - Paula Carynski, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center
2011 - Kris Kieper, YWCA of Rockford
2010 - Lori Gummow, KNIB
2009 - Julie Bosma, RAMP
2008 - Linda Grist Cunningham Rockford Register Star
2007 - Lori Berkes-Nelson, Golden Apple Foundation
2006 - Janyce Fadden, Rockford Area Economic Development Council
2005 - Peg Wilkerson, Alpine Bank
2004 - Marsha Perez, MetLife
2003 - Jill Wagner, National City Bank
2002 - Marge Fleming, McGladrey & Pullen
2001 - Barbara Berman, Arthritis Foundation

Community Hero
Designed to honor a female’s contributions outside of the office the honoree demonstrates a commitment to her community through service. This individual has contributed positively to community improvement and change through time, talent, treasure or a combination. Her skills are utilized in a way that does not directly benefit her professionally, but rather, for the betterment of others.

Community Hero Honorees:

2023 - Christina Valdez, CMM and Associates
2022 - Carol Schuster, University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford
2021 – Martesha Brown, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
2020 – Ashley Osterberg, RN, OSF Healthcare

Rotating Honors

While many award are bestowed annually, there are specific awards that are on a 3-year rotating timeline. Please see nomination windows for award timing.

People You Should Know

People You Should Know Honorees are individuals who are compelling, interesting, and amazing people who deserve their time in the limelight. These are people you admire for their work, drive, dedication, and commitment to what they believe in and for having that certain vibe of energy about them. These are business individuals you classify as special – people you really want to know, network with, and are proud to have be part of the Rockford region.

A list of previous honorees is available for download in PDF

Presented by:

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The Superlatives

1. Most Likely to Take Over the World
2. Most likely to Get Something Done
3. Most Likely to Brighten Up Your Day
4. Most Trustworthy
5. Most Unforgettable Person
6. Most Iconic Artist
7. Best Dressed Person
8. Knows Everyone in the Room
9. Best Shoulder to Cry On
10. First to Volunteer
11. Class Clown
12. Most Hopeful for the Future
13. Best Motivational Speaker
14. Most Likely to Save the Planet
15. Most Adorable Office Pet
16. The Hustle Award
17. Smartest Person in The Room
18. The Up & Comer Award
19. Best Amateur Chef
20. Best Professional Chef
21. Drives the Coolest Car
22. Hardest Working Volunteer
23. Most Unique Workspace
24. Inventor’s Club
25. The A.V. Club
26. Rockford’s Booster Club
27. Most Impactful Duo
28. Varsity Team
29. Rockford’s Pep Band
30. The Rockford Spirit Award