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San Ramon: Chamber of Commerce honors community 'stars'

Employees, Businesses and Citizen of the Year celebrated

The San Ramon Chamber of Commerce presented seven awards to community and business representatives during the 32nd annual "Night of the Stars" ceremony last Thursday.

Citizen of the Year: Joan Ernst

A 45-year resident of San Ramon, Joan Ernst was honored as the 2016 Citizen of the Year for her contributions to the community through years of work with the Dublin/San Ramon Women's Club and various volunteer positions.

Ernst spent many years as a teacher and later a site administrator at local school districts, including Dublin (then known as Murray) and Newark school districts, and was hired at St. Mary’s College to supervise students during their student teaching semesters in the classroom.

She continued her role as a teacher and has been a "Senior Scholar" tutor at the San Ramon Senior Center for 14 years. She was also the chair of the San Ramon Senior Advisory Committee for two terms, as well as the group's secretary.

Her work with the Dublin/San Ramon Women’s Club (DSRWC) has included being named first vice president for two years and membership chair during two different administrations. She just completed her second experience as president from 2014 to 2016, during with the group celebrated its 50th birthday.

In about 2003, she helped launch a job fair for teens, which the DSRWC continues to sponsor and now draws 400 to 500 students each spring. About that time, the group also began an annual project with the Bay Area Crisis Nursery, having members donate school supplies for their clients' children.

Also in 2003, a group of DSRWC members began a Music In the Schools Program, a committee which Ernst now chairs, which teach patriotic songs to third-graders while embedding some of the history of the U.S.

She has also served as the DSRWC Scholarship Program lead for the last 14 years, during which time the club has assisted over 150 students.

"I feel so blessed that I chose San Ramon to live in," Ernst said during her acceptance speech. "I am humbled by this unexpected honor."

Business Person of the Year: Rodney Worth

Worth Group, led by Chef Rodney Worth and his wife Natalie, owns and operates and operate seven restaurants in the Bay Area, including Worth Ranch in San Ramon.

Worth purchased his first restaurant, a small sandwich shop in a non-descript strip mall in San Ramon, less than two months after graduation from the culinary program at Diablo Valley College in the early 2000s.

Last year, Worth returned to San Ramon to open Worth Ranch, "just 1,000 feet away from the original location where the dream started over 10 years ago," according to Worth. Worth Ranch is the first of Worth's restaurants dedicated to his personal favorite style of cuisine -- barbecue.

Employee of the Year-Private Sector: Amy Russell

Amy Russell, deputy director of admissions at UC Davis, Graduate School of Management (GSM), accepted the 2016 Employee of the Year (Private Sector) award.

Russell is the founder of the San Ramon Young Professional Group, which was launched in fall 2015 in partnership with UC Davis GSM and the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce. Group members have a passion for personal development, expanding their network and serving the community. 

Employee of the Year-Public Sector: Lt. Denton Carlson

San Ramon police Lt. Denton Carlson, community relations/crime prevention division commander, received the 2016 Employee of the Year (Public Sector) award.

Carlson began his law enforcement career in 1998 as a deputy with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office. In 2002, he was selected to be a patrol officer for the city of San Ramon, under their contract with the sheriff's office.

In 2007, after San Ramon made the decision to form its own municipal police department, he applied and was hired to be an officer for the new San Ramon Police Department.

During his career as an officer, Carlson worked on patrol, as a detective, and as SWAT Team member. In 2008, he was promoted to the rank of corporal and became a patrol supervisor, SWAT team leader and was the recruit training officer for the 167th Academy Class at the Contra Costa County Law Enforcement Training Center.

In 2011, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. During his time as a sergeant, Carlson was a patrol supervisor, Professional Standards and Training Division supervisor, SWAT team leader and coordinator of the San Ramon Police Department’s Firearms Training Program.

Two years ago, Carlson was again promoted, this time to the rank of lieutenant. He currently serves as the director of the San Ramon Police Department’s Community Resource and Crime Prevention Division and is also the commander of the Central County Regional SWAT Team.

Denton holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice management, and in May, he is on schedule to complete his Master of Science in emergency services administration from California State University, Long Beach.

Educator of the Year: Joyce Rooks

This year's Educator of the Year was Joyce Rooks, a second-grade teacher at Creekside Elementary. During her 15 years teaching in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Rooks has taught kindergarten, first, second and fourth grades at Creekside and Coyote Creek elementary schools, as well as computer applications and graphic arts at California and Dougherty Valley high schools.

In addition to her teaching duties, she is serving at as a mentor to new teachers, elementary director for the San Ramon Valley Education Association, and model classroom for reading and writing workshops.

For the past five years, Rooks has organized a school-wide fundraiser with Kids Against Hunger to pack meals for people in need globally and locally. She has served on many district committees including the Balanced Literacy Study Group, Language Arts Leadership Group and Report Card Committee.

She also represented the San Ramon Valley school district as a 2016 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year finalist.

Green Business of the Year: Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (Central San)

The 2016 Green Business of the Year was awarded to Central San. The agency has protected public health and the environment for 70 years through collection and treatment of wastewater. It serves approximately 481,600 residents and more than 3,000 businesses in central Contra Costa County, including San Ramon.

Providing recycled water since 1997, Central San has helped save more than 3 billion gallons of drinking water supplies for local communities. In addition to consistently meeting or surpassing stringent federal, state and regional water quality standards, Central San boasts 18 consecutive years of 100% compliance and zero permit violations, which earned it the National Association of Clean Water Agencies’ Platinum-18 Peak Performance Award.

Central San also created public outreach and student education programs to encourage behavior changes that protect and conserve natural resources. Their two award-winning school programs (Water Wizards for third and fifth grades; Sewer Science for high schools) teach students about pollution prevention and the science behind wastewater treatment.

Ambassador of the Year: Quang Do

Quang Do is the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce's 2016 Ambassador of the Year. A representative of Guardian Life/WestPac Wealth Partners, Do was instrumental acquiring sponsors and vendors for the first-ever "Doggie Days" community event held in July and is active in the Ambassador group.

The 2017 San Ramon Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors was also installed during the evening ceremony Thursday at The Bridges Golf Club.

Board members are Cherlene Andresen, Kaiser Permanente; Melanie Bartoletti, Gianni's Italian Bistro; Leigh Boyd, Boyd and Associates LLC; Denton Carlson, City of San Ramon Police Department; Marian Cathedral-King, Chevron; Andy Chang, Bishop Ranch / Sunset Development; Gina Channell, Embarcadero Media Group; Terry Church, Law Office of Terence N. Church; Sue Fairbanks, San Ramon Regional Medical Center; Joyce Feldman, Joyce Feldman Agency - Famers Insurance; Joe Gorton, City of San Ramon; Elizabeth Graswich, San Ramon Valley Unified School District; Maureen Haber-Gonzales, AlphaGraphics Tri-Valley; Geoffrey Leonard, San Ramon Marriott; Paige Meyer, San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District; Carmel Redell, Pacific Gas and Electric Company; Simon Tan, Webivia.com; and Dave Thompson, TeamLogic IT.

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