Service, 'selfies' rule at chamber awards dinner

San Ramon chamber honors residents, businesses for contributions to city

The San Ramon Chamber of Commerce honored its own for the 29th time Thursday night in its annual "Night of the Stars" event.

Emcee Terry Koehne, communications and community relations director at the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, took potshots at Toronto's beleaguered Mayor Rob Ford, who's been accused of smoking crack cocaine.

And with a nod to the Oxford Dictionary's word of the year, "selfie," -- cellphone self-portraits -- Koehne snapped pictures of himself, Mayor Bill Clarkson, award winners and presenters.

Ian Schuster, president and CFO of Schubros Brewery, took home the award for business person of the year. He was chosen for his contributions to San Ramon's economic vitality, his ethics, his innovation and creativity, and for being a mentor and role model.

"It's extremely flattering, at the same time, kind of humbling," Schuster told the crowd of about 250. "I'm the kind of person that draws stick figures and waves my hand in the air and hopes someone will understand me."

He thanked the city for its support of the start-up local brewery, which began two years ago.

Steve Renfro won the chamber's citizen of the year, largely for his work with SRVGAL, the San Ramon Valley Girls Athletic League. The citizen of the year is chosen for someone who "exemplifies the model of an ideal citizen," including his or her contributions to the community and "high standards of personal excellence."

"We all dedicate ourselves to the organizations that are special to us," Renfro said, adding that volunteers don't expect to receive awards for their work. He also took the opportunity on stage to plug the 40-year-old nonprofit softball league.

Janel Rupp, outreach and education manager at the Food Service Technology Center, took home the chamber award for employee of the year for her volunteer work and community service as well as being an outstanding employee.

"I have to say thanks to my father," Rupp said, "for instilling a strong work ethic in me."

Nicholas Zefeldt, a third-grade teacher at Live Oak Elementary School, won the award for educator of the year. Zefeldt was recognized for his personal and professional contributions to San Ramon Valley students, for his high academic and personal standards, and for encouraging students to strive for excellence.

"This is extraordinarily humbling," he said, asking for applause for both his fellow nominees, Rob Stockberger and Jonathan Lui-Kwan.

Sprint on the chamber award for green business for the company's "significant commitment to earth-friendly practices."

Accepting the award for Sprint, Manager Tony D'Anna noted the telecommunications firm ranked No. 3 on Newsweek's 2011 and 2012 rankings of the greenest companies. Sprint, he said, has reduced the footprint of cell towers, cuts its energy consumption and recycles its old technology.

The event, held at The Bridges Golf Club, is the chamber's biggest event of the year.


Like this comment
Posted by Mom Working on Thanksgiving
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 9, 2013 at 7:56 am

How much did this award ceremony cost the hardworking taxpayers of San Ramon?

Like this comment
Posted by Another reader
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm

@ Mom:

It was a chamber of commerce event, $75 a ticket.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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