Home / Your Chamber / An Evening of Celebration - Annual Dinner 2017


The Ashland Chamber of Commerce held the 111th Annual Dinner Celebration for 2017 with 250 guests in attendance at the Historic Ashland Armory. 

The theme for 2017 was Celebrating Art in Ashland, honoring the vibrant fine art community in Ashland, the artists and organizations that support the arts locally. The theme was showcased through a short film Hands” commissioned by the Ashland Chamber, produced by Reel House Films and sponsored by Matthew Lloyd Haines, in Support of Sanctuary One, a nonprofit Animal/People Sanctuary, located in Jacksonville, Oregon and the Thalden Foundation.  
President Marie Lange from Ashland Homes Real Estate was honored and thanked for her two-term dedication and commitment to her role as President of the Chamber. She handed the gavel to Mary Gardiner with SOU International Programs who will be the Chamber Board President for the 2017-2018 year. 
The Top Awards for the evening were presented to many individuals for their business successes and community contributions.

Ashland Culinary Festival Top Chef 2016- Josh Dorcak- Josh is now a two-time winner of the Ashland Culinary Festival. Additionally, this summer he won the Bite of Oregon in Portland representing Ashland’s amazing culinary scene so well. Over the last year he has opened his own pop-up restaurant, MÄS and we are proud of his efforts.


Green Business of the Year- White Dental Studio- Dr. Brandon White of White Dental Studio values green practices at the core of his business. He is the first and only eco-dentistry gold certified dental office in Ashland and achieves this status through conscious energy and water conservation along with integrating principals throughout his office procedures.


Retail Business of the Year- Ashland Greenhouses-  Owners Kelly and Ben Brainard purchased the business in 2007. The provide a vast array of plants, testing each new product to our area’s climate before putting it on the market. They teach classes and work with groups like the Soroptimist and the Rotary Garden sharing their knowledge and expertise with our entire community. 


Service Business of the Year- Ashland Art Center – The Ashland Art Center was founded in 2007 by Denise Baxter and in 2008 expanding to its current location at the historic Provost Building. They offer a space for artists to showcase and sell their work and have classes for artists of all skill level. The Ashland Art Center makes creating art a reality for the entire community.


Manufacturing Business of the Year- FlowJo- 
Flowjo moved to Ashland in 2003 and develops software for researchers across the country in cytometry and single-cell analyisis. They are involved in the community through ScienceWorks’ Mini-Maker Faire, most recently, and offer an excellent internship program for students.


Emerging Business of the Year- Sammich & Pastrami Zombie- Melissa McMillan- Melissa is a true entrepreneur. A self-taught chef, she has taken the culinary world by storm both in Ashland with her flagship, Sammich, but expanding to Portland wit her food truck, Pastrami Zombie and is opening Sammich in Portland as well. She has been recognized time and again for her amazing creations and, most recently, won the People’s Choice Sandwich Competition at the Feast in Portland. 


Greeter of the Year- Rob WerfelRob currently works for Ad Gorilla and is working with local start-up ERNDO to grow the company. He is a long-time Greeter attendee and can be seen volunteering at almost every community event each year. He supports Chamber members and encourages businesses to get involved and network with fellow Chamber members. 


Chamber Volunteer of the Year- Bob Horton- Bob, originally from Worchester, England, moved to Ashland from the Bay Area after 39 years at Bayer Bio-Tech. While living in Carmel, he caddied a round of golf at Pebble Beach with Newt Gingerich and Leon Panetta. He is a wonderful volunteer and always available to pick up shifts when needed. 


Special Recognition- Judy Howard, Hanson Howard Gallery- We cannot celebrate art in Ashland without recognizing Judy Howard. She came to Ashland with her family in 1966 and taught art in Medford until 1978. She initiated the Artists in the Schools program and then opened Hanson Howard in 1978. She has served on the Oregon Advocates for the Arts Board and the Oregon Arts Commission. She served as a liaison between the state commission and Western States Art Federation. She received the Schneider Museum Award of Excellence for her contributions. She was on the Chamber board and VCB creating the first Taste of Ashland and later became president of the Ashland Gallery Association.


Citizen of the Year- Police Chief Tighe O’MearaTighe O’Meara is a positive leader in our community and he gets involved in the community in a number of different capacities.  He is patient, collaborative and willing to tackle tough issues. Through volunteer efforts he serves on the Ashland Health & Wellbeing Initiative Steering Committee and is on the Board of Directors for La Clinica. He is also the Chair of the Rotary Club of Ashland Lithia Springs CrabFest event.


Honorary Life Member- Cindy Bernard- Cindy has served as President of the Ashland Chamber for two terms. She has served on and chaired multiple Ashland Chamber committees including  Legislative Committee Chair, Fire Prevention Task Force, Health & Wellbeing Committee, Annual Dinner Committee, Behavior Task Force, Emergency Prepared Business Program, Festival of Light Chair and served as the Chamber Liaison to the Climate Energy Action Plan.

Photos by Graham Lewis


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