Excellence Is Rewarded at Pickwick Gardens

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Steve Mora (left) and Jamie Keyser-Thomas (right) of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce honored the Burbank YMCA Social Impact Center, represented by Rob Rodriguez and Mary Cutone, as the 2022 Community Impact Award recipient.

First published in the May 14 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

For some, the thought of a garden party conjures up images of British royalty, upper-class nobles and government officials enjoying a lavish spring afternoon while sipping tea, partaking of finger sandwiches and strolling through meticulously manicured landscapes.

For others, a garden party may immediately bring to mind the 1972 song Rick Nelson wrote about being booed during a concert performance at Madison Square Garden.

As for members and supporters of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, the thought of a garden party will, from this time on, always bring back the memories of the presentation of the organization’s 2022 Excellence Awards that were recently held at Pickwick Gardens.

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Apartment D Films, who was recognized as this year’s Emerging Business of the Year and represented by Maximilian Lopez, with state Sen. Anthony Portantino.

In one of the chamber’s first major events since the pandemic began, the chamber hosted a garden party at the 67-year-old Pickwick Gardens to celebrate the city’s small businesses and spotlight five exceptional recipients with their annual awards.

“After battling the many logistic and economic challenges of the past few years, the business community of Burbank now has plenty to celebrate,” said Jamie Keyser-Thomas, CEO of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce. “These Excellence Awards are the perfect opportunity to applaud the spirit of our resilient small businesses [and] honor some exemplary Burbank individuals and organizations.”

The 2022 awards saw Handy Market, represented by owner Alan Arzoian, named Small Business of the Year, while Emerging Business of the Year honors went to Apartment D Films, accepted by the company’s co-founder and president, Maximilian Lopez.

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Burbank City Councilman Bob Frutos, right, congratulating Handy Market’s owner Alan Arzoian for being named the chamber’s Small Business of the Year.

This year’s Community Impact Award was bestowed on the Burbank YMCA Social Impact Center, which serves as Burbank’s only LGBTQIA-plus resource center. Accepting the award on behalf of the center were Mary Cutone, the Y’s president/CEO, and Rob Rodriguez, the center’s director of marketing and social responsibility.

The Heroes of Burbank Award was proudly given to the Providence Saint Joseph Emergency Department represented by ED Dr. Angelique Campen; Dr. Celina Barba- Simic, who serves as the ED’s medical director; Executive Nursing Director Debbie Buffham; Bailey Wojcik, who manages the ED; and Angela Khurdajian, who serves as the philanthropic gifts adviser for the medical center’s foundation.

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Vickie Beckett, who was recognized as the chamber’s 2022 Ambassador of the Year, with Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes.

The event also saw Vickie Beckett, the district manager at Premier America Credit Union, named the chamber’s 2022 Ambassador of the Year.

Among the many dignitaries in attendance were state Sen. Anthony Portantino, Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes, City Councilman Bob Frutos, former Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, former City Councilman Tim Murphy and former Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero.

Other notables included members of the chamber’s board of directors; Steve Mora, who serves as the chairman of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce; Chairman-elect Paul Herman; Leslie Smith, the chamber’s member services director; and Burbank Police Chief Michael Albanese.

For more than 100 years, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce has been the city’s leading public policy advocate for business, promoting economic growth and initiatives that enhance and preserve quality of life in the Burbank Community. The chamber represents nearly 1,000 member businesses and their 33,000-plus employees.

Photo by David Laurell / Burbank Leader | Recognized as the 2022 Heroes of Burbank were staff members of the Providence Saint Joseph Emergency Department, which includes Angela Khurdajian, Dr. Angelique Campen, Debbie Buffham, Dr. Celina Barba-Simic and Bailey Wojcik.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563- 1007.