The Chamber's Downtown Kissimmee Council held their annual Downtown Update at the Kissimmee Civic Center…
On Saturday, February 4th The Osceola Chamber celebrated our 98th Annual Meeting at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We were excited to gather with members and community partners to watch the gavel pass from 2022 Chairman of the Board Kevin Crain of Osceola Press – Printing & Signs to 2023 Chairman Allison Beeman, Account Manager with Cemex. Under the leadership of Chairman Crain The Osceola Chamber completed a rebranding process that launched under 2020-2021 Chair Adrianna Sekula, and was named an “Accredited with 5 Stars” chamber by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, putting them among the top 2% of Chambers in the country.
Prior to the evening’s formal program, guests gathered in an adjoining ballroom for a cocktail reception. In the hotel foyer, attendees posed for photos with Mickey and Minnie Mouse and struck a pose at the 360 Photo Booth brought to us by RTW Photography. A caricature artist made the rounds to capture attendees in elaborate ink sketches as well.
The evening was themed “The Decades – 60s, 70s, & 80s,” which included many groovy and far-out touches to the décor in the Contemporary’s Fantasia Ballroom. Centerpieces created by Kissimmee Florist celebrated each of the three decades, and light up balloons lined the walls. Attendees were encouraged to come dressed to represent their favorite decade. Chairman Beeman and Chamber President/CEO John Newstreet made appearances throughout the program as Sonny & Cher, Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers, and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts to celebrate the music of the chosen decades. Said John Newstreet, “Our 98th Annual Meeting was our grooviest yet! Having fun while highlighting the incredible achievements of 2022 and some of our amazing members shows that business does work better together.”
Representing the evening’s host, Elizabeth Watkins, Government Relations Manager at Walt Disney World Resort, welcomed everyone to Walt Disney World and shared some of the exciting things we can expect as Disney wraps up their 50th Anniversary celebration.
The Chamber handed out awards to members of the Chamber community throughout the night. The inaugural Chairman’s Award was presented to Tom Franklin, retired from KPM Franklin. Chairman Crain explained that this award is presented by the outgoing Chairman to an individual they believe has gone “above and beyond” in service to the Chamber, especially throughout the past year.
Each year, the Eagle Award goes to the Chamber Area Council that has best exemplified the Chamber’s Mission, Vision, and Values throughout the year. Directors on the eight area council boards served a collective total of over 850 hours in 2022, which does not even include their time spent planning and executing initiatives, programs, and events. Over the past year, the eight area councils also awarded $9,000 in scholarships, collected school supplies for Osceola County schools, and presented awards to businesses and business people throughout the county. The recipient of the 2022 Eagle Award, sponsored by HCA Florida Healthcare, was the Poinciana Council.
Said Newstreet, “A special shoutout to 2021-2022 Poinciana Council Chair Crystal Bethea for winning the Eagle Award, and to all of our councils, coalitions, and task forces who do amazing volunteer work each year.”
The Linda Goodwin-Nichols Service Award is named after Linda Goodwin-Nichols, two-time Chairman of The Osceola Chamber Board of Directors, and a stalwart of Osceola’s Business Community for over 40 years. Throughout her career, Linda has epitomized community involvement and giving back selflessly, and this award honors an individual who will carry on her legacy. This year’s finalists for the Linda Goodwin-Nichols Service Award were Rev. Mary Lee Downey, CEO of the Hope Partnership; Osceola County School District Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace; and Edward Jones Financial Advisor Rob Rosen. Sponsored by Kissimmee Utility Authority, the award went to Mary Lee Downey, who spoke of how her mission to provide housing to Osceola’s most vulnerable continues Linda’s work of finding homes for Osceola residents going back to the mid-1970s.
To recognize the importance of the Chamber’s core values of “Embracing Heritage,” “Creating Opportunity,” “Building Unity,” and “Membership Value,” and our partners who promote them, in January of 2018, Chairman Tim Finkenbinder announced the creation of an award to emphasize these values – particularly “Building Unity.” For the fourth year, the Chamber presented the Unity Award at the Annual Meeting. Finalists for this award were Alex De Jorge with Brightway Insurance, Dale Miller of SkyWater Technology, and Kira Takanen with A Helping Hand Community Counseling. Presented with support from AdventHealth, the Unity Award went to Martin Levert, who graciously thanked the mentors that led the way for him to be a supporter of diverse groups in our community.
After taking a moment to honor the past-chairmen in attendance, Chair Beeman thanked Chairman Crain and presented him with a crystal gavel. She closed out the night by introducing the Chamber’s 2023 Executive Committee and Area Council Chairmen. Her conclusion, “This was a most excellent evening! With over 350 people in attendance, the evening showcased special guests, award recipients, and dancing. It is a tremendous honor to serve as Chair for 2023 and I look forward to the year ahead.”
The Chamber’s 98th Annual Meeting was sponsored by Walt Disney World Resort, Kissimmee Utility Authority, AdventHealth, HCA Florida Healthcare, C3 Wellness Spa, and Bank Florida.