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GCVB recognizes top Gwinnett hospitality professionals

BUFORD -- Last week, 175 of Gwinnett's hospitality industry professionals attended the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau's Annual Tourism Awards and Holiday Luncheon at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center -- and many of them walked away with awards.

"It is important to recognize those who have gone above and beyond in helping to bring in meetings, events and visitors," said Lisa Anders, GCVB's executive director. "These individuals each do their part in making visitors want to return to Gwinnett again and again. This year's winners truly exemplify the word 'hospitality.'"

The event was more than awards. It celebrated GCVB's Candy Bar Drive benefitting Hugs for Our Soldiers. As a whole, the Gwinnett hospitality community collected 4,035 candy bars (full-size chocolate bars and M&Ms), which were sent overseas.

Award winners:

2012 Friends of Tourism: Candice Kirkpatrick, catering sales executive of Proof of the Pudding, Kevin Priger, area sales manager of Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place, Dr. Mark Newton, program director of hospitality management program of Gwinnett Technical College, Al Stilo, director of sales and marketing of Aurora Theatre, and Ed Peterson, director of sales of the Wyndham Garden Duluth.

Volunteer as Outstanding Ambassadors: Diane Turchin, Erica Rohlfs, Geneva Bottley, Golden Thomas, Jacqueline Quitman, Jane Miller, Nicole Burks and Stewart Woodard

Hospitality Industry Professional of the Year: Deborah Johnson, Convention Services Manager, Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place

Gwinnett Sports Commission Prestige Award: Kat Ding, 2012 NCAA Gymnastics Champion, University of Georgia

Gwinnett Sports Commission Event of the Year Award: Kids Triathlon

Gwinnett Hero Award: Garry Davis, Gwinnett resident