Woodland Park Chamber Unveils Annual Award Winners

Celebration and Gala Set For March 15 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort

The Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce has unveiled the recipients of the 2023 service awards, including Volunteer, Non-Profit, Employee and Business of the Year, alongside the designation of two Wagon Boss award winners for 2023.

Furthermore, the Chamber will grant three Wagon Boss Scholarships amounting to $15,000 during its Annual Dinner, set for March 15. Chamber President Debbie Miller stated, “This is the second time during my tenure that our judges have declared a tie in one of our award categories. With Teller County providing an exceptional environment for living, working, and contributing to our community, we see an abundant quantity of deserving nominees each year for our awards.”

Nominations opened in early December and closed on January 12th. Nominations were forwarded to judges in mid-January. “Over the years, we have discovered that sending nominations to a panel of out-of-state judges ensures unbiased evaluations ensuring impartial awards,” stated the chamber president. “The nominations adhere to specific criteria, and the judges assessed them accordingly.” T

Top Volunteer and Nonprofit Winners

The 2023 Volunteer of the Year Winner began at age seven, working in a vaccine clinic for stray animals. From vaccine clinics to charity events, she’s dedicated her time to various causes including Habitat for Humanity, Happy Cats Haven, and Teller Historic and Environmental Coalition (T.H.E.).

Sherri Albertson has actively supported community initiatives including the Holiday Home Tour, Vino & Notes, Ute Pass Symphony Guild and many more. Her commitment extends to schools, where she volunteers for Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado. Even during the challenges of COVID, Sherri remained dedicated, adapting to remote volunteering. “Sherri embodies altruism, dedication, and humility, making her an exceptional volunteer and a clear choice for this award.” noted Steve Woolf, past Chair of the Chamber Board.

The Teller County Farmers Market Association has been a cornerstone of the community for over 33 years, offering locally sourced produce, meat, dairy, eggs, and baked goods through partnerships with various programs and associations. It serves as more than just a market, but also as a vibrant gathering space featuring local musicians, 4-H demonstrations, and educational programs for all ages. The market supports innovative initiatives such as a Young Entrepreneurs program and a paid intern program while relying on donations, sponsorships, grants, and booth fees for operational expenses. Despite challenges like construction and the pandemic, the market has adapted, offering a combined drive through/walk-through format and serving as a beacon of community resilience. “The Woodland Park Farmers Market’s enduring impact and adaptability make it a deserving winner for Non-Profit of the Year,” declared Mark Maruszak Chairman of the Chamber.

Employee of the Year; Top Business Champ

The 2023 Employee of the Year, Suzanne Leclercq, meanwhile, epitomizes professionalism and care as a dedicated public servant, providing exceptional service to Woodland Park citizens and city staff for over two decades. Serving as the City’s Assistant Manager and risk manager, Suzanne oversees human resources, parks and recreation, and safety operations with precision and compassion. Despite facing challenges, such as wildfires, pandemics, and changes in leadership, Suzanne remains a steadfast and positive presence, addressing the needs of the mayor, city council, city manager, and all administrative departments daily. Her dedication and expertise in local elections are unmatched, reflecting her unparalleled service to Woodland Park. Her unwavering fairness, kindness, and patience ensure that every individual who seeks assistance at City Hall receives the utmost attention and respect.

“Suzanne not only met but surpassed all 8 sought-after characteristics required to earn the title of Employee of the Year,” emphasized Chamber President Debbie Miller. “She is the quintessential employee that every business or organization aims to hire.”

The 2023 Business of the Year exceeded all seven characteristics for winning Business of the Year. In a nearly decade-long journey, Your Neighborhood Realty evolved from a small team to a thriving enterprise, driven by an unwavering commitment to excellence and community impact. From humble beginnings, they embraced challenges, adapted to market changes, and expanded their operations while staying true to their values. Sustainable growth included consistent expansion, creating job opportunities and contributing to Teller County’s economic development. Their property management division now oversees 145 doors in the county, showcasing their dedication to excellence.

“YNR is deeply rooted in Teller County, actively participating in community initiatives and supporting local causes like the Aspen Mine Center, the Senior Coalition, TCRAS, and local food banks,” noted Chamber Chairman Maruszak. “Innovation and adaptability along with embracing technology contributes to their success as one of the top real estate companies in Woodland Park.”

Wagon Boss Winners

The Chamber Wagon Boss embodies exceptional ethical standards, integrity, and distinguished leadership, actively contributing to their community. Their service may range from publicly recognized activities to behind-the-scenes contributions that may not be immediately acknowledged. “With a multitude of nominations this year, the judges selected two winners,” noted Chamber President Debbie Miller. One of two winners this year was Jim Olsen. As the general manager of Foxworth Galbraith Lumber Company since 2007, Jim Olsen has demonstrated exceptional leadership, cultivating a strong team dedicated to our organization’s success. Under his guidance, their store weathered challenges during the recession and COVID, but also experienced remarkable growth, doubling sales annually and becoming the leading building supply company in Teller County. Jim Olsen’s leadership extends beyond the business realm. He is deeply involved in the community, serving on the boards of several organizations including the Pikes Peak Lions Club, Cruise Above the Clouds Car Club, and Habitat for Humanity. Jim’s contributions to the community are numerous, from supporting fundraisers to helping local organizations with their initiatives. “Jim’s integrity, honesty, loyalty, and dedication have earned him the respect of his colleagues, community leaders, and citizens of Woodland Park and Teller County,” stated Barbara Asbury, Chair-elect of the Chamber. “He is certainly worthy of the designation of Wagon Boss.”

The other Wagon Boss winner is Donna Finicle. Donna Finicle is a remarkable example of post-retirement service, having dedicated decades to mental health advocacy as a licensed clinical social worker. Her impactful journey began with 25 years at the Veterans Administration, providing crucial support to Colorado veterans. Donna is active with the Ute Pass Historical Society where her deep appreciation and passion for history extends to city projects involving historical preservation and heritage tourism. She has played a pivotal role in initiatives like the creation of “The Story of Us” mural, highlighting the rich history of the Ute Pass.

Her dedication to native American culture led to the formation of the Mountain Warrior organization, providing support to combat veterans. Despite her numerous contributions, Donna remains humble, driven by a genuine desire to help others. From supporting military families through Welcome Home Warriors to providing counseling for caregivers in Teller County, Donna’s selfless efforts have transformed lives. Her impact is immeasurable, yet Donna seeks no recognition. Her optimism and support for community goals have fostered growth and unity.

“Donna’s legacy is one of compassion and empowerment, inspiring all who have the privilege of knowing her.” noted Karla Schweitzer, retired collections manager with the Ute Pass Historical Society.

Learn more about the Chamber’s award winners and celebrate their successes at the Chamber’s Annual Gala on Friday, March 15 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Dinner tickets are available by contacting the Chamber office at 719- 687-9885 or going to the website at www.woodlandparkchamber.com.