Chamber hands out PACE awards

Last night, the Greater Pensacola Chamber announced its 57th Annual PACE Award recipients during a special one-night event at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front.

“We are privileged to have an abundance of leaders devoted to moving the Greater Pensacola region forward with their talents, enthusiasm and spirit,” said Clay Ingram, Greater Pensacola Chamber President & CEO. “We are honored to pay tribute to these individuals who continue to positively impact our community.”

Public Information Officer for the City of Pensacola, Vernon Stewart (Inweekly Rising Star 2017), was named Emerging Business Leader of the Year for his vocation, advocacy and volunteerism in our community. A vital advocate for vulnerable adults, children, veterans, and cancer survivors, Stewart now serves as the face and voice of the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life in Pensacola.

Last year’s recipient was Patrick Elebash of Elebash Jewelers (Inweekly Rising Star 2010). In 2015, Jonathan Griffith, executive vice president of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Inweekly Rising Star 2013), was the recipient.

Meghan McCarthy, Director of Health and Wellness for Baptist Health Care (Inweekly Rising Star 2015), was named Emerging Advocate Leader of the Year for her endeavor to improve quality of life and strengthen businesses in our community. McCarthy implemented a voluntary workplace health program, Healthy Lives that gained ninety percent participation among her peers and saved the hospital’s health plan over $577,000 in the first year. The award was created last year and Stacey Kostevicki of Gulf Coast Kids’ House (Inweekly Rising Star 2013) was the recipient.

United Way of Escambia County’s President and CEO, Andrea Krieger was named Professional Leader of the Year for restoring the community’s confidence in one of our areas leading nonprofit organizations. In 2016 alone, each dollar donated to the agency, returned a $4 local impact that lead to a $14.5 million impact overall. 2016: Susan Davis Ed.D, RN of Sacred Heart; 2015 Former Oakcrest Elementary School principal Denny Wilson

J.T. Young, Customer Service General Manager for Gulf Power Company, was named Community Leader of the Year for his dedication to ensuring that individuals and organizations are developed and their capabilities are maximized. 2016: Sue Martin, founder of the Cordova Mall Ball; 2015: Former Gulf Breeze Mayor Beverly Zimmern

Bruce Vredenburg, President of Hancock Bank’s Pensacola & Emerald Coast Markets was named Business Leader of the Year. Vredenburg is currently leading efforts with Florida’s Great Northwest to raise annual funding of $240,000 for each of the next three years to establish an Advocacy and Preservation Campaign related to Triumph Funds. 2016: Joe Abston of Hopjacks, Tin Cow; 2015: Dr. Sunil Gupta, Retina Specialty Institute

Quint and Rishy Studer were awarded the Spirit of Pensacola Award for their vision, investment, and dedication to cultivating our community. The Studer’s have been pivotal in the revitalization of downtown Pensacola. 2016: late Molly McGuire Martin, co-owner McGuire’s Irish Pub; 2015: Eric Nickelsen,a founding partner of Sperry Van Ness

The first annual Leader in Education of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Ed Meadows, President of Pensacola State College. Meadows was instrumental in introducing the region to SkillsUSA and winning the bid to host the state conference in Pensacola for the next three years. This conference has led to a more than $10 million economic impact on our community.

Finally, Dr. Judy Bense was awarded the Pioneer Award for her lifetime of, devotion, achievement and inspiration to our community. At the University of West Florida, Bense successfully built a solid network of community partners, identified regional workforce needs, increased student residents, expanded the athletic program and strengthened academic programs so that students are prepared for future leadership. 2016: Mort O’Sullivan, III, CPA; 2015: Jerry Maygarden