On August 13, the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce and The Chamber Foundation celebrated business at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort with our first ever Champions Jubilee. This event included the graduation of the Leadership Osceola Class of 2021, as well as the announcement of the winner of our Distinguished Leader Award and the business recipient of the Business Champion Award.
Leadership Osceola, which was born at the Chamber in 1989, just completed its first full year back under the Chamber umbrella in over two decades. Each year, a class of about 30 community leaders immerses themselves in Osceola County through interactive programming and hands-on experience. This year marked the 31st year of celebrating Leadership Osceola at Walt Disney World. 33 graduates of the program were honored this year and each received a certificate of completion from Chamber Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Sue Ring and 2019 Leadership Osceola graduate, and President, General Manager, & CEO of Kissimmee Utility Authority, Brian Horton. Class representative Abismael Abreu, Business Navigator with the City of St. Cloud, spoke about the class’s unconventional program year.
The 2021 Distinguished Leader Award was then presented by 2019 Distinguished Leader Mike Steigerwald, Kissimmee City Manager. After a nomination process, three finalists were selected for the 2021 Distinguished Leader Award. This award has been presented since 1992 to a Leadership Osceola graduate who has demonstrated community leadership, supported the Leadership Osceola County Program’s aims and goals, and empowered others to lead. The 2021 award went to Belinda Johnson-Cornett, CEO of Osceola Community Health Services over fellow finalists Kelly Trace, CEO of REACH, and Osceola County Tax Collector Bruce Vickers.
As “Champions for Business and Community,” the Chamber found it fitting to recognize a Small Business Champion with a new award this year. This Business Champion should possess many of the same qualities we celebrate in our individual leaders: spirit of service, engagement, and initiative. These businesses are woven into the fabric of our community creating jobs, providing opportunity, and often giving their time and resources for the greater good. The finalists for this inaugural award were Kathy Pierson Communications, RTW Photography, and Re/Max Premier Properties – Gladys Thayer. The award went to Kathy Pierson Communications.
Watch below for a recap of Leadership Osceola in 2021 and an overview of the graduating class of 2021: