The collective glances around the ballroom were the silent agreements with Vice President Andrew Cooper’s remark that the impressive crowd was “dressed to the nines.” Buoyant with anticipation for the esteemed evening, the 220 guests at the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce’s Installation Dinner did not remain silent for long as Andrew transitioned his introductory commentary with a pun that the “multi-layered cake in the kitchen is already in tiers.” It was truly a night for many high-spirited laughs as well as many effectively spirited cocktails in honor of celebrating the spanning accomplishments of outgoing Chamber president Andrew Gregson, the Arcadia Citizen of the Year Bruce McCallum, and the Corporate Community Contributor Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant. The annual event on Thursday (March 31, 2016) was once again hosted at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and once again in true Chamber fashion, it brought a community together with one simple and profound purpose: gratitude.
The program was notably credited to Community Builder Presenting Sponsors Westfield Santa Anita and Methodist Hospital as well as Gold Sponsors Arcadia Association of Realtors, BMW of Monrovia, Century Rooter Services & Plumbing, Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist, Foothill Credit Union, Professional Advisory Services, Singpoli, and USC Eye Institute.
As the emcee for the evening, Andrew Cooper of the Arcadia Association of Realtors, seamlessly stitched his humor with the grace prompted to conduct the program. Chamber CEO Karen Mac Nair was first introduced then took the stage to offer a kindly welcome to attendees and to lead the flag salute. Following her welcome, Andrew took the time to recognize the former Presidents in attendance: Pete Siberell, Gil Stromsoe, Dr. Peter Young, Lee Shimmin, Jim Helms, and Dianne Chapman. There was a general consensus over witnessing the many past leaders that the Chamber’s legacy remains steadfast. City Council members and officials Mayor Gary Kovacic, Tom Beck, Sho Tay, Mickey Segal, and Gene Glasco were acknowledged for their attendance and asked to also stand for applause. City organizations such as the Arcadia Association of Realtors, the Arcadia Chinese Association, the Arcadia School District, Rotary
International, and the Arcadia Historical Society took part in the evening festivities and sat together at inclusive tables. Andrew also made sure to especially thank the former Board members being recognized with presented certificates: Stephen Miyabe of the Law Office of Hart, Mieras & Morris, Dr. Edward Wong of the Arcadia Chinese Association, and Dr, Peter Young of Premier Dental Aesthetics.
<Please follow this link to view the event photos from the evening.>
Andrew Cooper had the ballroom buzzing when the time came to thank Immediate Past President Andrew Gregson of the Executive Factor for his services to the Chamber. Alluding to last year’s Installation, when Gregson wore a kilt in salute to his Scottish ancestry, a round of jokes were delivered in stand up unison by the two Andrews over the five best answers to “what are you wearing under your kilt?” Attendees witnessed the sincere friendship forged between the two as they could laugh together as well as praise one another with ease. Cooper highlighted Gregson’s accomplishments when serving as President which included but were not limited to overseeing the most successful Taste of Arcadia and the Special Olympic Games, implementing new membership plaques, hiring the new Chamber CEO Karen Mac Nair, and most importantly always offering his unyielding support despite living in Temecula and commuting every day. Karen thanked Gregson with a pocket watch, a gift bridging the leadership of past CEO Scott Hettrick who had the time piece personalized before his leave. Dignitaries and their representatives stepped forward with their formal recognitions and certificates including Congresswoman Judy Chu, Senator Bob Huff, Adam Hsu on behalf of Assemblymember Ed Chau, Brian Mejia on behalf of Supervisor Antonovich and Mayor Gary Kovacic who interjected that Gregson is “special enough to get the good plaque” from the city. Clayton Arick on behalf of Senator Ed Hernandez could not attend, however President Vicki Knight presented the certificate in accordance.
Andrew Gregson faced the receiving crowd and admitted that he has been dreading this part of the evening since last year’s Installation Dinner when the Chamber came under his “British rule.” However, attendees could not detect the nerves Andrew reference to as he delivered his address with signature animation and took a selfie with the crowd before delving into his many affirmations for his wife Tricia, colleagues, and city officials-especially the Mayor who’s written volumes on Arcadia he plugged with quirk as way to gain new members. Expressing that he has been humbled by the leadership and is looking forward to supporting new President Vicki Knight, he also vowed to continue building relationships with the members of the community. He confessed that it would not have been possible to gain his breadth of friendships without the foundation of the Chamber, which has introduced him to individuals he never would have come to gratefully know.
Andrew Cooper proceeded after the echoing satisfaction over the dinner of chicken and tri-tip, mixed vegetables, red potatoes, and ‘Suicide Chocolate Cake’ with the installation of the Board of Directors and Executive Board. Mayor Gary Kovacic called upon the remaining members of the Boards, civic representatives, presidential appointments, and the newly-elected to stand at the front of the stage. Over a dozen Board of Directors members in attendance pledged individually and collectively to fulfill their duties and responsibilities with the raising of their right hands. New President Vicki Knight of Century Rooter Services & Plumbing was sworn in along with her standing Executive Committee who vowed to guide and direct the Chamber’s operations. Her first responsibility was the honor of extending the Chamber’s most prestigious awards of the year.
• President Vicki Knight of Century Rooter Service & Plumbing
• President-Elect Andrew Cooper of the Arcadia Association of Realtors
• Vice President Romy Rahmanian of the Law Office of Romy S. Rahmanian
• Secretary-Treasurer Gil Stromsoe, Mark Schaefer Associates
• Immediate Past President Andrew Gregson of The Executive Factor
Board of Directors
- Chris Andersson, Foothill Credit Union
- Sophia Chan, Forest Lawn
- Andrew Chang, Santa Anita Inn
- Imy Dulake, Coldwell Banker
- Dr. Nina Getz, Phillips Eye Center
- Brian Greene, Methodist Hospital
- Kin Hui, Singpoli
- Kay Kinsler, School Board President
- Mayor Gary Kovacic
- Bruce Lazenby, Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary
- Dominic Lazzaretto, City Manager
- Matt McSweeny, Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant
- Megan Oppelt, Togo’s
- Ramon Oseguera, Westfield Santa Anita
- Annette Ousterhout, Jan’s Towing
- Luis Plascencia, Embassy Suites Arcadia
- Mark Ramos, Vista Paint
- Arlynn Robinson, Coldwell Banker Dynasty
- Pete Siberell, Santa Anita Park
- Gil Stromsoe, Mark Schaeffer Associates
- John Sun, Budget Blinds
- Allen Tsay, Waddell & Reed
- David Vannasdall, Superintendent
- Denise Weaver, Weaver & Associates
- Wayne Williams, Professional Advisory Services
- Walter Wodtke, Wells Fargo
- Aaron Yang, Din Tai Fung
The movement of honoring Citizen of the Year Bruce McCallum began with commending the numerous past Citizen of the Year winners joining the celebration that evening. As they stood and were applauded, attendees meditated with respect; their attendance in support of Bruce was a demonstration that their support for the Chamber and community never ceases, it only grows.
Jim Helms, Citizen of the Year 1979, introduced Bruce by saying that he has been both the McCallum family’s lawyer and close friend for over 40 years. Knowing Bruce “better than he knows himself,” he remarked that Bruce has had a fantastic career and has depth of character much like a king, referring to his Scottish ancestry and ruler Robert Bruce. He told stories of Bruce’s unconventional first date with wife Joanne at a political rally and the occasion of when traveling to a USC Trojan football game, that the car stopped and they had a tailgate on the side of the road. These stories were humorous, but also symbolic of Bruce’s regard for civic duty and his unyielding loyalty to his cause—the circumstances for the award. L
ast year he led the Host Town Arcadia committee for the Special Olympics and served his third and final year as Chief Taste Officer for Taste of Arcadia. Both events under his leadership were huge successes credited to his dedication. He was also the President of the Rotary Club of Arcadia and volunteer on the Arboretum Board of Trustees. Currently, he is on active two committees for Church of the Good Shepherd.
As Bruce took the stage, open gratitude circulated around the ballroom and faces melted into smiles. Bruce has that kind untaught effect that affect others to better versions of themselves. Referring to a facetious conversation with Jim Helms a couple of weeks prior, he revealed to the attendees that he was not sure what to say so Jim told him just to thank people because “no one wants to hear you talk about yourself.” Taking Jim’s advice and in accord with Bruce’s humbling character, Bruce thanked Jim for sponsoring him and being a friend for so many years, his voice touched with sentiment. Then with laughter, he thanked the members of the Chamber who selected him for the award even though he has no idea who they are. Living in Arcadia for over 43 years, he earnestly observed that he has never known citizens to be such wonderful volunteers and it has been a distinct pleasure to work in service with the community at large. The room stood in ovation to Bruce as the Trojan “Fight On” sounded in the background and dignitaries made their way to the stage for their recognition and certificates.
President Vicki Knight as her first duty awarded Bruce for his outstanding service from the Chamber. Congresswoman Judy Chu offered appreciative regard for Bruce’s involvement and with conviction stated how outstanding each recipient of the night is for their achievements. Mayor Gary Kovacic in playful rivalry announced that Bruce’s love for his alma mater USC was problematic considering his own alma mater as UCLA before commending him for his great job with Taste of Arcadia. Adam Hsu from Assemblymember Ed Chau’s office admitted that he was especially impressed by Bruce’s hosting of the Special Olympics and was inspired by his devotion to developing city’s potential. Brian Mejia on behalf of Supervisor Antonovich named Bruce a true patriot and has touched the lives of many due to his outstanding character. Senator Bob Huff appreciated Bruce for all that he has done for the city of Arcadia before exiting the stage in tandem and with poise.
The third annual Corporate Community Contributor Award for Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant was inaugurated from the back of the room by owner Matt McSweeny before he even stepped forward for its acceptance. Looking directly at Vice President Andrew Cooper he teasingly warned “Cooper you better not be starting anything” as Andrew proceeded to name the accomplishments of Matt Denny’s. Recently celebrating both its 17th anniversary in January and hosting its 15th St. Baldrick’s Day event with partner Del Sol Salon, Matt Denny’s only continues to maintain an extraordinary presence in Arcadia. Matt Denny’s St. Baldrick’s Day event has raised over $600,000 for children’s cancer research. Another yearly event, the “Bob Mac Classic” Golf Tournament has raised more than $50,000 in support of numerous local organizations. Matt Denny’s also sponsors various groups ranging from Arcadia Seniors to Santa Anita Little League and participates in Taste of Arcadia. Matt McSweeny personally contributes to the community by sitting on the boards for the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association, Arcadia Measure A Citizen Oversight Committee, and the Holy Angels Fiesta Committee.
President Vicki Knight fulfilled her second award giving duty of the evening with the presentation to Matt McSweeny and inviting dignitaries or their representatives to step forward in recognition. Senator Bob Huff warmly thanked Matt for constantly striving to improve the community. Mayor Gary Kovacic in classic comicality commented that he had “never seen this guy in a suit before” so the award must be a big deal if it would coax Matt out of his signature uniform of shorts and a t-shirt. It was “about time” that Matt changed according to the Mayor but more importantly, about time that he was recognized for his services to the community. Matt Denny’s is practically an institution in the local community as it contributes so charitably at such a high caliber. Adam Hsu and Brian Mejia reiterated the Mayor’s statement of duly recognizing Matt McSweeny for the passion he has for public service.
After stating that it was an honor to be awarded, Matt launched into a series of jokes, all of which were delivered so casually that the combined shock value resulted in streams of laughter. He then delved into the many tributes he credits for his ability to contribute in such a dynamic way, modestly taking the attention off of himself. Family and faith are the foundations of his character—he lives by the simple motto of giving back and being a good human being. Thanking his parents who wrote out the first check for Matt Denny’s, his siblings who have helped expand the restaurant, his wife Pam who puts up with his crazy hours, and his kids Shannon and Jake who always believe in their “famous” dad as Shannon so rightly dubbed from her seat. He made sure to acknowledge his inspiring, hard-working employees whom he has watched grow to accomplish their own dreams. Matt Denny’s is its own tight, close-knit community that is a reflection of Matt McSweeny’s unwavering vision and commitment to assist others. With the final standing ovation of the night, he graciously stepped off of the stage onto the main floor where attendees gazed and grasped one another with the untainted gratitude of being a part of such a remarkable community.
Thank you to DJ John Villa of Dance Syndicate Entertainment who provided the accompanying audio and ambiance for the evening.
Thank you to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, especially to General Manager Matthew Goo in attendance, who generously donated the wine served and the signature chocolate chip cookies placed at every table.