Chamber president and CEO Kristen Miller greeted those present for the organization’s yearly meeting of members, who spent time mingling among other businesspeople as well as appetizer and drink stations.
Miller called the gathering the one time the hundreds of chamber members have an inward focus instead of out into the community.
“It has been another great year for the chamber,” said Miller, who herself was honored for her 10-year anniversary with the organization.
Ninety new members joined the chamber in 2012, she said, noting a number of ribbon cuttings and store openings.
“That, to me, is a sign things are getting better.” Miller said.
Michael Rattray was celebrated as the chamber’s departing board chairman, and ambassadors and officers were also recognized for their hard work.
Shelby Sim, the chamber’s director of business development, announced the 2012 Ambassador of the Year as Teri McDuffie, owner of Santa Barbara Women’s Self-Defense. The Chairman’s Award went to Lisa Murphy Rivas of Venoco Inc. for her work with the chamber’s signature California Lemon Festival.
Before handing the chairman’s gavel to Tony Vallejo, Rattray said a few words to thank the members and those who volunteer their time to serve on the board.
“I’m humbled. I’m honored,” said Rattray, holding up his plaque. “It was fun. You guys are great. We think we did a really good job this year.”
Members inducted former board vice chairman Vallejo into the organization’s top spot, leading a board with new officers and faces.
Vallejo said Wednesday that his sights are set on increasing chamber membership, tourism and on GEM, which is a collaboration among the chamber, city and UC Santa Barbara that stands for Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet.
“We’re going to have a great 2013,” he said.