2015 Annual Leadership Awards

June 26, 2015

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce was pleased to present its annual leadership awards at the 2015 Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 25th. The awards honored individuals and businesses that stand out as leaders in the business community.

Small Business Leader of the Year
presented by HomeTrust Bank

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce was pleased to present its annual leadership awards at the 2015 Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 25th. The awards honored individuals and businesses that stand out as leaders in the business community.

Small Business Leader of the Year
presented by HomeTrust Bank

The Small Business Leader of the Year Awards program recognizes two individuals who clearly reflect quality and dedication in the operation of business in the Asheville area and provide leadership accomplishments including innovation, initiative and civic responsiveness.

15 or Fewer Employees
Karen Tessier founded the full-service advertising agency Market Connections in 1996. Described as a champion of downtown revitalization and a visionary leader, Karen has served on numerous boards including HandMade in America, Mountain Bizworks, the Buncombe County Culture and Recreation Authority and the Asheville Downtown Association. She was also a founding member of the Pack Square Conservancy. She is a passionate advocate for the arts, education and livable cities. Her agency has received numerous awards including five Gold ADDY Awards and seven Silver Awards.

Video on Karen Tessier  

16-50 Employees
Chef Willliam Dissen of The Market Place Restaurant is a firm believer in the local food movement, working diligently to source ingredients from local farms and artisan producers. He is committed to operating a sustainable business  and has spearheaded a waste management cooperative with neighboring businesses as well as being involved with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. William has been recognized nationally by the James Beard Foundation, Business Insider Magazine and Fortune Magazine among others.

Video on William Dissen

Entrepreneur of the Year
presented by Park Ridge Health

The Entrepreneur of the Year recognizes someone who demonstrates willingness to take a risk, personal drive and business acumen.

In just two years, Adam Charnack’s commitment to quality has helped grow Hi-Wire Brewing into an award-winning craft brewing company. As co-owner of Hi-Wire, Adam keeps his sights on maintaining the company’s independent and authentic feel while reaching for business development. Since opening in June 2013, Hi-Wire Brewing was named Best New N.C. Brewery in 2013 by RateBeer and was awarded the most medals at the 2014 N.C. Brewer’s Cup. This summer, Hi-Wire Brewing will open a 26,000-square-foot production facility in Biltmore Village, quadrupling brew capacity and doubling employees. The new facility will enable increased statewide distribution and significantly higher production of its six-pack products with a new bottling line.

Video on Adam Charnack

Women Entrepreneurs, Best in Business
presented by Webb Investment Services

The Women Entrepreneurs, Best in Business Award, sponsored by Webb Investment Services, recognizes a woman who demonstrates the transformation of her dream into reality and who exhibits the traits of an entrepreneur such as: willingness to take risk, personal drive, focus, innovation and business acumen.

Ilana Craig Alberico has leveraged her spa expertise and passion for wellness into a multi-million dollar company, Innovative Spa Management. By addressing a need in the industry, Ilana and her business partner started in Asheville with one spa and has grown to encompass spas nationwide along with an all natural skincare and bodycare line, Privai, produced in Asheville and used in ISM spas across the country and sold online. Ilana’s tireless dedication and innovation have led the home-grown company to being a leader in the spa industry.

Video on Ilana Alberico

William A.V. Cecil Leadership Award

The William A.V. Cecil Leadership Award recognizes senior management-level employees for leadership in the local hospitality industry. The recipient has displayed foresight, exceptional leadership skills and has impacted the Western North Carolina hospitality industry and the community as a whole.

Anyone enjoying boating, biking and other recreation on the French Broad River can thank Karen Cragnolin, Executive Director of RiverLink. For decades, Karen has spearheaded the revitalization of the river with passion and perseverance. She has kept her focus on preservation of open spaces, creation of greenways, restoration of historic buildings and river conservation. Karen serves on the Buncombe County Conservation and Greenway Boards, The Self-Help Credit Union Advisory Board and the Nolichucky River Partnership. Her efforts, along with RiverLink staff and thousands of volunteers, have transformed the river into a wonderful community asset for people to live, work and play.

Video on Karen Cragnolin

Volunteer of the Year
presented by Roberts & Stevens

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes a Chamber member who has given of his or her time and talents beyond the call of duty in volunteer efforts with the Chamber.

Sharon Owen of Sisters of Mercy Services Corporation whole-heartedly embraces the Chamber’s mission. She has served as a volunteer on the Chamber’s Total Resource Campaign for more than a decade, raising well over a quarter of a million dollars for Chamber events and programs. Sharon co-chaired the campaign in 2012 and 2013. Whether in her professional life, volunteerism or personal time, Sharon is dedicated to serving others. While preparing for one campaign, she spent time in Haiti helping with earthquake relief and never missed a beat with campaign work upon her return. Her sincerity and bright spirit is inspiring.

Video on Sharon Owen

Good Health Good Business Award
presented by Mission Health

The Good Health Good Business Award recognizes a business that demonstrates service and exceptional leadership which have resulted in improving the health of the Asheville community.

Serving WNC for over 125 years, the YMCA of Western North Carolina is committed to increasing access to nutrition, fitness and medical-based wellness programs to benefit overall health and wellness of our community. In addition to their fitness center programs, the YMCA offers programs for cancer survivors to rebuild strength and confidence, for individuals at-risk or recently diagnosed with diabetes and fall prevention for an active aging population. To highlight one program, the Healthy Living Pantry and Healthy Living Mobile Kitchen bring food equity and educational food demonstrations to people across WNC, distributing more than 100,000 lbs of food to community members in need and instilling healthy eating habits.

Video on YMCA of WNC

Excellence in Public Service
presented by Asheville Savings Bank

The Public Service Award recognizes an individual for his or her outstanding contribution to the community through involvement, service or motivation to improving the quality of life for the citizens of Buncombe County.

Jan Davis has owned and operated Jan Davis Tire Store in downtown Asheville for 30 years. As a small business owner, he became interested and engaged in community and business issues, serving the Asheville community as a volunteer and elected official. He has been a champion of improving our community’s quality of life by supporting cultural resources like the refurbishment of the U.S. Cellular Center and bringing the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament to town. He chaired the Buncombe County Environmental Affairs Board and the Civic Center Commission and was a founding member of the Asheville-Buncombe Regional Sports Commission. As a three-term Asheville City Council member, Jan has been involved with the Public Safety Committee, Planning and Economic Development Committee, Riverfront Redevelopment Commission and served as vice-mayor from 2007-2009.

Video on Jan Davis

About the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is a member organization with 1,800 member businesses and organizations. Chamber members collaborate with community organizations and coalitions to support the community and each other with the mission of building community through business.


Media Contact: Erin Leonard, Director of Communications