My role as President and CEO of the region’s largest Chamber of Commerce daily sees me working with members, regional leaders, the press, and government officials. It’s through these first-hand experiences that my team and I have witnessed the remarkable resilience and perseverance our member businesses have demonstrated in an unimaginably challenging year. I’m always in awe of the Northern Virginia business community, but in 2020, I’ll admit I've been impressed time and again, most notably during one of our awards shows.
Our 18th annual GovCon Awards show on November 4th will mark the close of a truly outstanding 2020 awards series. Each one of our awards shows has showcased Northern Virginia businesses and nonprofits who answered this year’s challenges and, through adaptation and innovation, have achieved the extraordinary. (Our awards shows were recorded and the winners’ stories shared via the links below.)
We first saw examples of community benevolence in our Good Business Awards whose honorees and winners selflessly serve as champions for good in our Northern Virginia Community. Our Business of the Year winner, Great American Restaurants is committed to getting food into the hands of those who need it through donations to local and national organizations fighting hunger, volunteer hours at food pantries, and providing meals. Our Nonprofit of the year, PenFed Foundation, became the first national veterans service organization to start a COVID-19 relief program open to all veterans and service members using the structure of their pre-existing emergency financial assistance program, “Military Heroes Fund,” which offers financial assistance for wounded, ill, and injured post 9-11 combat veterans who are experiencing an unexpected short term financial setback. Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Anne Holton, has spent her life in service to the Commonwealth. From championing foster care reform, creating a successful pathway to education - especially for students in poverty, to advancing education and business preparation through her connection to George Mason University, Anne has had a significant impact on the future of the community.
Our Valor Awards celebrated the heroes who walk among us: our community first responders who quite literally saved lives. And while not all names could be shared publicly, these brave women and men were singled out by others to receive this year’s recognition.
Our Distinguished Service Awards are presented in recognition of community stewardship and business leadership to Veteran-Owned Businesses, stand-out Employees, and Service Organizations who support Veterans in business. All of our 2020 winners were impressive, including our double-winner of Business of the Year, Emerging, Echo Five Group, and its winning Employee of the Year, Bonnie Tavolazzi, who helps the company hire Veterans and is an active supporter of the Dog Tag Fellowship Program.
We recently held our inaugural Greater Washington Innovation Awards that showcased ingenuity in business. Our finalists and winners amazed us! We ultimately crowned an Innovator of the Year in Micronic Technologies, Inc., a company that has invented a single pass system that, using no membranes, filters, or chemicals, removes virtually all contaminants from any source water. People’s Choice winner, MPower Me has invented technology-based systems and tools that assist special needs individuals in developing greater independence, communication, employability, and inclusion.
The business curveballs 2020 threw at our community could have led to different outcomes. It was through adaptation and innovation, however, that our honoree and winner businesses have persevered and found new paths to success. Bravo one and all!