By: Jim Holm, Fresno Chamber Ambassador and Director of Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County
One of the ways in which the Fresno Chamber of Commerce recognizes the performance and involvement of outstanding chamber members is through the Ambassador of the Year Award. This Award is given annually to the Ambassador who has demonstrated the highest level of commitment to the fulfillment of the Ambassador’sMission: to give their time, to act as the greeting arm of the Chamber, to encourage member involvement and to create productive working relationships. The Ambassador of the Year is publicly recognized and honored at the Annual Chamber Installation Dinner, at which point the Ambassador receives a beautifully engraved sculpture which they may display at their workplace as a sign of their commitment to the advancement of the Fresno business community. The award also honors the business with which the Ambassador of the Year is associated.
The Award began as an annual recognition, given by the Ambassadors themselves to acknowledge each other’s accomplishments. Originally titled the “Amby” award, the honor consisted of a nondescript bobble head doll, referred to as “ugly” by some of the Ambassadors. This doll, clad in its blue blazer was awarded yearly to the lucky winner, who held it until the next year’s award was given. Over the years, the doll has disappeared into the dustbin of history but the tradition of awarding a member of the Ambassador’s Committee who had accumulated the most points during the previous year, lives on. Points are accumulated by participating in activities of the Ambassador’s Committee, such as attending monthly meetings, assisting in ribbon cuttings for new businesses, working at Chamber mixers and events, referring new members or writing articles for the Ambassador Blog.
After the doll disappeared, the Ambassadors moved to a quarterly recognition of the outstanding member with an award deemed the Mark Fletcher Ambassador of the Quarter Award, in honor of a stellar member of the Ambassadors, Mark Fletcher, who had passed away. Mark was a very active Ambassador, well-liked by all who knew him, gifted with a wry sense of humor, and deeply involved in community service organizations. On his Harley-Davidson, Mark rode the streets of Fresno and the area, doing his best to make this city a better place.
Five years ago, at the suggestion of Al Smith, then the newly appointed CEO of the Fresno Chamber, the Ambassador of the Year award was given new life when it was elevated to an award given by the Chamber at its annual Installation Banquet in recognition of the most outstanding Ambassador that year. The first recipient of the new award was Kristin Valenzuela-Groth, currently a co-chair of the Ambassadors Committee. Subsequent winners have been Hannah DeGroot, who won two years in a row, and Lynette Schetselaar. The winner of this year’s award is Vickie Goudreau of Innovation Commercial Flooring.
Like Mark Fletcher, Vickie is full of energy, brimming with enthusiasm, and committed to involvement in the community. She is active in her Church, The River, and in a women’s business network called 9 to 5 for Christ. Her company, Innovation Commercial Flooring, supports the Foundation for Clovis Schools as well as Junior Achievement. Vickie is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Ambassadors Committee. She and her husband of 35 years have four grown daughters and five grandchildren. Vickie will be officially recognized at the Chamber Installation Banquet on Friday, January 27th.