Ahwatukee Chamber 2018

Chamber board chair Ross Murray, right, poses with nominees for Educational Mentor of the Year. They are, from left, Liz O'Neall, YEA instructor; Cerritos Elementary Principal Darcy DiCosmo (the winner), Esperanza Principal Cheryl Greene and Akimel A-al Middle School coach Chris Hanson.

The Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce made a big statement with its Day of Champions breakfast last Friday: It’s far from dead.

Though the Chamber’s all-volunteer board began the year by cutting the position of executive director and putting an end to any speculation that it could ever afford to bring back the July 4 fireworks show, its breakfast gala and Chairman Ross Murray’s upbeat address showed there is plenty of life left in the 400-member organization.

Murray told the breakfast attendees that the Chamber’s cost-cutting efforts and its successful annual golf tournament “have not gone unnoticed.”

“We have recently been approached with multiple partnerships in the community that would give more visibility to our membership and give the Chamber the brand identity that has been needed in this age of networking,” he said. Promising to unveil the group’s 2019 plans at its October Wake Up Ahwatukee Morning Mixer.

Besides acknowledging a host of local business owners for their contributions to the Chamber over the past year, the breakfast also was marked the occasion for its annual awards ceremony.

Cerritos Elementary Principal Darcy DiCosmo was named Educational Mentor of the Year. The Festival of Lights Committee was named Nonprofit of the Year. Local businessman Dee Gordon was named Community Champion. And the small business and business of the year awards went to Horizon Chiropractic Center and Silverado Management Inc., respectively.

Darcy DiCosmo, Educational Mentor of the Year

DiCosmo has been principal of Cerritos for 11 years. She said, “I believe one of my most important roles is to provide opportunities to others to discover their own leadership strengths.

“In my office, I have a quote from Dr. Stephen Cover: ‘Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.’”

DiCosmos said she instills in her staff “a genuine belief that all children can learn.”

“I deeply care about each individual as a whole person,” she said. “I promise every student that I will do my very best to provide them with the best possible academic career I can give them.”

DiCosmo’s leadership abilities have not gone unnoticed outside Cerritos either. She is a certified consultant for Franklin-Covey, an internationally renowned provider of time-management training and assessment services for organizations and individuals. It has provided training to administrators in more than 100 schools nationwide that otherwise could not afford it.

Under her administration, Cerritos has twice earned an A+ recognition from the Arizona Educational Foundation and is the 27th Franklin Covey Lighthouse school in the world.

Festival of the Lights, Nonprofit of the Year

Though best known for the million lights it brings to Ahwatukee along Chandler Boulevard each December for the past 22 years, the all-volunteer Festival of Lights Committee does a lot more in furtherance of its mission to “enhance the quality of life, neighborhood spirit and synergy in the Ahwatukee Foothills communities as resident representatives by creating and sustaining traditions of family-oriented events throughout the year.”

It sponsors the big post-Thanksgiving Festival of Lights Kick-Off Party, the springtime Beer and Wine Tasting Festival and donates thousands of dollars to local nonprofits.

“Our events are a valued cornerstone of the community in Ahwatukee,” said President Jnayce Hazlett.

“Given the large scale of the various annual events, the FOL stands as a remarkable example of community spirit,” she continued. “Through thick and thin, the organization has sustained and grown each year, frequently reinventing itself to maintain freshness and relevance. All of this is achieved by exploiting the energies and thousands of hours of residents working as volunteers, including kids who need community service hours.”

The committee also is working with the Foothills HOA to attempt to simplify the maintenance of the medians on Chandler Boulevard, including exploring with city Councilman Sal DiCiccio the possibility of plugging its Christmas lights directly into the city streetlights rather than maintaining electrical outlets.

Dee Gordon, Community Champion

Gordon almost needed a vehicle Friday because she made so many trips between her table and the stage to join various Chamber committees whose members were called up to take a bow for their service.

But Gordon, owner of Sundance Salon and Spa in Ahwatukee, is not just active in the Chamber, but in many other local groups.

She has been an active member of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Ahwatukee for many years, making flower arrangements for services, organizing and serving luncheons and dinners and knitting blankets for newborns. She also works with handicapped people and participates in other charitable activities.

An active member of the Ahwatukee Republican Women, Gordon also works with the Kyrene Foundation and the Chamber’s Women in Business group to help raise money and donations for needy Kyrene kids who need clothing, school supplies and even lunch money.

“It was a long but wonderful experience to be able to help the children of our community be able to start school with ample supplies, clothing and food,” Gordon said.

Horizon Chiropractic Center, Small Business of the Year

Dr. Cameron Call, owner of Horizon Chiropractic at 4425 E. Agave Road, said his business is devoted to “empowering individuals to rise above their health challenges and live life to the fullest.”

Specializing in restoring nervous system function, it helps patients with fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, sciatica and people along the entire autism spectrum.

“We focus on creating a unique and personalized experience for every patient in our office, and add value through things like office workshops, events, exclusive patient celebration dinners, Moms Nights and community block parties,” Call said.

Call, who moved here from Texas two years ago, is finding success in his business that his staff has doubled and he is now planning to add a second chiropractor.

He and his office also are deeply involved in community events, sponsoring fundraisers for groups like the Arizona Autism Coalition and stocking-stuffing parties to prepare gifts for homeless kids. Call also co-chairs the Chamber’s ambassadors program, which talks up the benefits of Chamber membership throughout the business community.


Silverado Management, Business of the Year

Formed in 2011, Silverado Management is a real estate holding company that manages investment property.

It recently built an 11-suite, 7,500-square-footcomplex near Chandler Boulevard and Marketplace and helps sponsor a number of charitable and philanthropic activities throughout the community.

Among the groups it has assisted are Desert Vista High School’s wrestling and girls golf teams, Love I Am, Make a Wish foundation and a variety of Little League teams.

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