Mad Hatter meets Alice

Costumed duo
helps fete Chamber of Commerce honorees


DRESSED TO IMPRESS—Ray Taylor, left, Westlake Village city manager, and Brad Halpern, Westlake City Council member, serve as the gala hosts. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

DRESSED TO IMPRESS—Ray Taylor, left, Westlake Village city manager, and Brad Halpern, Westlake City Council member, serve as the gala hosts. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

The men and women who give vibrancy to the local business community received recognition at the 2018 Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce awards gala last Friday at Calamigos Ranch.

Winners in seven categories were announced at the March 2 dinner and awards ceremony, “An Evening in Wonderland.”

Westlake Village City Council member Brad Halpern and City Manager Ray Taylor served as event hosts and took the stage perfectly attired in Alice and Mad Hatter costumes.

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T—Michele Manfredi, left, of Westlake Village examines a sphere of water produced by illusionist Jason Latimer during the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce annual business and volunteer recognition gala March 2 at Calamigos Ranch. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T—Michele Manfredi, left, of Westlake Village examines a sphere of water produced by illusionist Jason Latimer during the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce annual business and volunteer recognition gala March 2 at Calamigos Ranch. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

Renowned magician Jason Latimer from Agoura Hills was the entertainer for the evening and used lasers, shapes and illusions to perform an array of mind-blowing tricks for the 300-member audience. The theme of his show was science and the art of the possible.

“Embrace the who’s, what ifs and why nots, because without them there cannot be change,” Latimer told the business and community leaders who were in attendance.

Each year the Conejo Chamber recognizes a Man, Woman, Business, Nonprofit, Ambassador, Volunteer and Corporate Sponsor of the Year.

“They all have a unique story and contribution to the Conejo Valley,” Taylor said.

Local property owner Shawn Moradian accepted the Nonprofit award on behalf of the Thousand Oaks Boulevard Association, a group seeking to revitalize the Conejo Valley’s main commercial artery.

About the association’s work, Moradian said, “We share a common goal and sense of place that the community can be proud of for decades to come. . . . For the past decade our efforts have made it easier for small businesses to prosper on the boulevard.”

Haider Alawami, the City of Thousand Oaks economic development manager, received Man of the Year honors for helping to guide the rebirth of the boulevard. Dianne McKay, business owner and partner at T.O.-based Mustang Marketing, earned Woman of the Year.

Fran Brough—whose service to the community spans decades and includes countless hours of donated time to the Conejo/Las Virgenes Future Foundation, the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks, Community Conscience and the Conejo Senior Volunteer Program Advisory Committee—received Volunteer of the Year honors.

“Volunteering is its own reward,” Brough said.

“She brings a hard-working and problem-solving spirit,” said Taylor.

The Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year, an organization member who goes above and beyond in reaching out to the local business community, is Michael Reardon of the Palm Garden Hotel and an Air Force veteran who was also recognized by the Conejo Chamber as a 40 Under Forty recipient in 2017.

Chatsworth Products, Inc., an employee-owned technology company headquartered in Agoura Hills, was named Corporate Sponsor of the Year.

Ventura County Credit Union is Business of the Year.