Gathering in mass, but outdoors as a hedge against COVID, the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce welcomed the return of its annual member Recognition Gala May 20 on the grounds of the Hyatt Regency Westlake.
The gala honored outgoing 2021 board chair Natalie Yanez of eXp Realty as well as winners in eight award categories.
A highlight of the evening was the inspirational presentation of Woman of the Year honors to lawyer and Agoura Hills City Councilmember Linda Northrup, who struggled to keep her law practice afloat during the pandemic while also fighting breast cancer. She underwent both chemotherapy and surgery, but rarely wavered in her duties to the city.
She said the Chamber is about “more than just business and bottom line, it’s about community and sharing.”
“All of my treatment was by providers here in the Conejo Valley,” Northrup told the 250 guests in attendance. “Together they saved my life.”
Urging women to receive a mammogram, the procedure that she said saved her life, and men to undergo prostate screenings, Northrup said, “Folks, early detection is the key to beating this beast.”
Northrup has served on the Agoura Hills City Council since 2015 and was mayor in 2018-19 immediately after the Woolsey fire. She participated in the Los Angeles County Woolsey fire After Action Review and started an Agoura Hills-specific task force to review the city’s emergency readiness and resiliency.
Northrup said she is “excited” to find out what the next chapter in her life will bring.
Man of the Year honors went to Mike Soules of Corwin/Sage Publishing.
Since 2010 Soules has been president of Corwin, an independently family-owned business and major employer in the City of Thousand Oaks.
He said the aim of his career has been pioneering unique platforms to provide meaningful content that educators need and want.
“Education is the cornerstone of a just and thriving society,” Soules said in his acceptance speech. “That’s what animates my work daily.”
Soules is a regent of Cal Lutheran University and president of the Conejo Schools Foundation. He co-chaired the 2020 Ventura County Go Red for Women Luncheon and was former chair of the Ventura County Workforce Development Board.
Business of the Year honors went to the Hyatt Regency.
Grabbagreen, a husband-and-wife-owned restaurant in Thousand Oaks that presents healthy food options combined with the convenience of traditional fast food, was named Small Business of the Year.
Nonprofit and Volunteer of the Year awards went to Conejo Community Outreach and Renee McDonough, respectively. McDonough has volunteered for decades supporting students through the Conejo Valley Unified School District.
The Chamber’s Ambassador of the Year is Andrea McClellan from Boy Scouts of America.
Incoming chairperson of the Chamber’s 23-member board of directors is Jill Haney.
The Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce has more than 800 business members and serves the cities of Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills.