Willmar Lakes Area Chamber sets Aug. 6 event to recognize community excellence

After the pandemic forced the postponement of spring events, the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce has now planned an Aug. 6 luncheon at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar as a combined event recognizing excellence in the community. The graduates of the annual leadership class will be recognized; recipients of community leadership, volunteering and giving awards will be honored; and the annual meeting will be conducted as well. The public is invited, and tickets are available from the Chamber office through Monday.

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WILLMAR — The public is invited to a luncheon Thursday, Aug. 6, at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar where the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce will present the Leadership Perspectives graduation class, conduct the Chamber annual meeting and recognize community leadership, volunteering and giving during the annual volunteer appreciation event.

According to a news release from the Chamber, the event is scheduled from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Individual tickets are $25 and can be purchased by contacting the Chamber before Aug. 3. Tickets include a lunch of street tacos, with grilled sweet corn, queso and chips, watermelon wedges and lemonade.

A program will recognize graduates of Leadership Perspectives, a nine-month course during which individuals from across Kandiyohi County's businesses and nonprofits meet monthly for seminars which focus on various leadership skills along with touring and learning about the county's many cultures, governments, educational institutions, industries and businesses.

Also during Thursday’s event, recipients of Chamber honors will be accepting their individual awards for leadership and support of the Chamber and community. New this year is the Diversity Award presented by the Willmar Human Rights Commission.

According to Chamber President Ken Warner, a separate volunteer appreciation event had been scheduled for April, and Leadership Perspectives graduation was set for May but both were postponed due to COVID-19 concerns and now combined into one event.


According to the news release, the awards to be presented are as follows:

Nate Erickson

The 2019 Emerging Young Leader Award will be presented to Nate Erickson, of MNYou and The Salvation Army. This honor is awarded to an individual younger than 40 who demonstrates outstanding leadership that benefits the community and its citizens. Areas of outstanding service include working with youth, adults and families to improve the Willmar Lakes Area quality of life. Leadership qualities include creativity, volunteerism, responsibility, problem solving, respectfulness, cooperation and organizational skills. Leadership qualities are not limited to Chamber activities and may include work for other organizations.

Jon Schmidt

Jon Schmidt, of Data Success, will be presented with the 2019 “MILO” Award, named after a longtime Chamber volunteer Milo Halberg who died in 2001. The award was established in his name to recognize local business leaders who exemplify Halberg’s leadership in the areas of volunteerism, community leadership and involvement, and dedication to the Chamber. The “MILO” Award is presented to a Chamber member who is 40 years or older who has provided leadership and commitment not only to the Chamber, but also to other community organizations and programs as well. The recipient’s photo will be featured in the Chamber lobby, along with past recipients.

Betsy Bonnema

The 2019 Exemplary Leadership Award will be given to Betsy Bonnema, of Red Star and WorkUp. The award is designed to honor a woman, man, business or organization that has achieved recognition in their field and made significant contributions to the respective profession, business, organization or community. The award is to recognize successful and exemplary leadership and engagement resulting in noteworthy accomplishments for the businesses, organizations and the community that they serve. In addition, the recipient will have been successful in serving their community in a manner that inspires others to make a difference in their community. Ideally, community members will also readily identify the recipient as being successful and making a difference.


Vicki and Chris Davis

The new Willmar Human Rights Commission Diversity Award for 2019 will be presented to The Goodness Coffee House, owned by Vicki and Chris Davis. The Diversity Award is designed to honor an individual, group or business who support and embrace an inclusive community by encouraging all persons and businesses to advocate, enhance and promote equity of opportunity in all of their group or business practices. The vision is a thriving healthy community that prospers through being inclusive of all people. Ideally, community members also will readily identify the recipient as being successful as a champion for inclusion.

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