Staff Photo: John Bohn Clyde and Sandra Strickland, center and right, are awarded the citizens of the Year award during the 64th Annual Dinner of the Gwinnett Chamber, held Friday evening in the Grand Ballroom at Gwinnett Center. Nearly one thousand people attended the event. At left is the presenter of the award, Renee Byrd-Lewis of Cisco Systems.
DULUTH -- The Gwinnett Chamber held its annual dinner Friday night, honoring residents, businesses and organizations for their contributions to the county and announcing their goals for the rest of 2012.
Lawrenceville residents and active philanthropists Clyde and Sandra Strickland were given the prestigious award of "Citizens of the Year," thanks only in part to contributions to Gwinnett organizations like the Hope Clinic, the American Cancer Society, Rainbow Village and Gwinnett Medical Center.
Gwinnett Medical Center's new open heart facility was recently named in their honor after a $1 million donation.
"Their donations have significantly impacted education, health, social service and the arts," Cisco's Renee Byrd-Lewis said as she presented the award. "Very rarely do we meet people whose contributions create such profound change in so many sectors in so many ways."
Rainbow Village -- a comprehensive community aimed at helping homeless families with children -- and CEO Rev. Nancy Yancey were given the D. Scott Hudgens Humanitarian Award. Johnny Phelps of Harry Norman Realtors was named Ambassador of the Year, and J.D. Caswell and Rev. William C. Corley were posthumously given the R. Wayne Shackleford Legacy Award.
Six honorees were named recipients of the Chamber's annual public service awards.
"Through the strength and vitality of leaders like Mayor Bucky Johnson, L.C. Johnson, Bartow Morgan, Jr., Sean Murphy, Cathy Petty Nichols and Perry Tindol, and organizations like the Rainbow Village," Chamber President and CEO Jim Maran said, "our community continues to flourish, so that people from every race, religion, culture, and creed can call Gwinnett home."
Larry Johnson, the Chamber's outgoing chief financial officer and senior vice president, was also honored during the ceremony.
The Chamber's main goals for the year will be to create new jobs; encourage business development and small business growth; and support crucial transportation solutions and investments, incoming Chairman Raymond Sale announced.
To expound on the first, the Chamber called its top priority to increase efforts nationally and abroad to attract high-wage jobs through its Partnership Gwinnett Economic and Community Development Strategy. Through that project, officials said the Chamber brought 37 relocations or expansions and 2,195 jobs to the county in 2011.
"As the voice of the business community, the Gwinnett Chamber has worked hard to bring leaders from business, government and education -- as well as regional and statewide partners -- together in an effort to ensure continued growth and prosperity," incoming Chamber Chairman Raymond Sale said.