It is not every year that the Arvada Chamber of Commerce gives out a Pioneer Award. It's reserved for exceptional leaders in the community who have served Arvada for many years and contributed in …
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AYP Leadership Awards
Rising Star Award
Man of the Year
Woman of the Year
Mary Jo Giddings
It is not every year that the Arvada Chamber of Commerce gives out a Pioneer Award. It's reserved for exceptional leaders in the community who have served Arvada for many years and contributed in ways that are unprecedented.
This year, Mary Jo Giddings was honored with this award at the 68th annual Arvada Chamber of Commerce Awards Luncheon held April 3 at the Arvada Center.
“She is caring, she is warm, she is considerate, she is go getter,” said Jean Gordon, of the Arvada Visitor's Center. “She wants what's best for Arvada and it is so evident in what she does.”
The center was a fitting place for the celebration as Giddings as volunteered at the Arvada Center for Arts and Humanities since it opened in 1976.
“I have enjoyed volunteering with many groups over the years, but my main passion is the Arvada Center,” Giddings said. “I am so proud of this venue.”
Giddings is a former Arvada Woman of the Year and has impacted the community in many ways over her 49 years in Arvada. She also sits on the board of directors for the Arvada Historical Society and the Arvada Vitality Alliance; and organizes Arvada's Garden tours.
Many know her for her dedication to telling the history of Arvada through the historical society.
“I'm very touched and feel very honored to be recognized,” Giddings said. “So many of us find our lives richer, more meaningful, more joyful because we do volunteer. We get so much in return.”
Several other awards were given at the luncheon including Man and Woman of the Year.
Man and Woman of the Year
The 2019 winner of Man of the Year is Jerry Marks, an Arvada native. Marks has served the community as a volunteer firefighter, a board member of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, Arvada Vitality Alliance and Arvada Economic Development Association. Additionally, Marks served on Arvada City Council filling a vacancy in 2014. He has also shared his time, treasure and talent across Arvada consistently supporting local organizations including Community Table and The Arvada Colts.
Read more about Jerry Marks
The 2019 winner of Woman of the Year is Patsy Pfaff. Pfaff's passion for volunteer work started when her children were small, from donating to Mother's Milk, to serving on the PTA, to tutoring math at Arvada West. She is frequently seen on the Ralston Creek Trail where she is an avid walker, completing over 70 half marathons toward her goal of completing 100 half marathons. She is on the advisory board for All Out Multisport and active in the ET Chapter of PEO, a group that provides educational opportunities for women through scholarships.
Read more about Patsy Pfaff
The recipients of this year's AYP Leadership Awards are Daniel Ryley and Jen Spettel.
Ryley has served the Arvada Economic Development Association for nearly five years, most recently being named executive director in 2018. He also serves as Chair of the Community Leaders of Hope Advisory Committee with Extended Hands of Hope, a Human Rights organization that houses and empowers survivors of child sex trafficking.
Spettel is currently the Executive Director of the Susan M. Duncan YMCA. She also serves on the 9Health Fair Board of Trustees and the Retention Committee for the Arvada Economic Development Corporation and is involved in the Healthy Places Initiative through the city of Arvada.
“It means a lot to be able to serve thorough the YMCA in my hometown,” Spettel said. “I'm so grateful for every day I have the opportunity to do so. If you continue to dream and to learn, you will someday be able to make an impact on your community.”
The Image Award winners are selected for their commitment to Arvada and the overall positive image they portray within the community. Karen Cowling and Michael Sudak received these awards.
Cowling works with Dental At Your Door to help those experiencing homelessness in Arvada with dental care. She also works with Benefits in Action to assist people in need with court hearings, hospital visits and mental health services.
“In helping people feel valued and hopeful, we have seen many lives change,” Cowling said.
Sudak owns and operates an Arvada-based business, My Kid's Lunch, to employ local residents at above minimum wage and provide local children with healthy and nutritious school lunches. Many of the schools served by Sudak's company have high free and reduced lunch participants.
The Rising Star Award recognizes an outstanding high school student in Arvada who has exemplified extraordinary skills in entrepreneurship, innovation, community impact and/or leadership. This year's Rising Star Award recipient was Katlyn Thiede, a junior at Arvada West High School. Thiede excels academically with a 4.33 GPA. She is also a member of the National Art Honor Society. In addition to her academic prowess, she has her own photography business and volunteers with Foothills Animal Shelter. Thiede is described by her teachers as kind, welcoming, determined, and one-of-a-kind.
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