Grasonville, MD — Recognizing achievement was the theme at the annual Excellence in Business Awards Dinner sponsored by the Queen Anne´s County Chamber of Commerce. The dinner was held at Annie´s Restaurant on Oct. 19. “When I look for leaders, I look for what I call the three C´s of leadership… character, competence and… communication,” said Paul Comfort, county administrator and speaker for the event. “A leader with integrity is of the utmost importance in all facets of business”, said Comfort. “You want… internal congruence… or practicing what you preach, minimizing the areas of your life that contradict your values, your beliefs and your code of ethics.” If you practice what you preach, you will be able to live a powerful, focused and successful life in living what you believe, Comfort said. “Our conscious is our sense of balance that provides equilibrium between our ideals and our daily activities and tells us when we are going awry from what we believe in,” he said. People who recognize this in themselves are the ones who you want to lead your organization or your business, Comfort said. Competence in managing information and competence in managing people are also vital for a leader, he said. “It´s so important to find someone who knows their subject … that´s why some of the best leaders are drawn from the lower ranks, as they make their way up an organization, they know it from the bottom up,” said Comfort, who started his career in county government at the age of 22 with the county´s Department of Aging. Many people who have subject matter confidence do not have the people skills in order to be a competent manager, he said. “When you are looking for a leader, I encourage you to make sure you have both sides of that competence equation. If they only have the subject matter excellence and don´t have the ability to lead people, you´ll see great failure,” Comfort said. Being able to make a point and speak well, in both a one-on-one setting and in a group setting, is also extremely important for a competent leader, said Comfort. “In this 21st Century communication skills are key to leadership success; both written and verbal,” he said. Five awards were given to both individuals and businesses recognized for their outstanding achievement. The awards were given out by Ralph Twilley of Centreville National Bank, who is vice chairman of the Chamber. The Business Leader of the Year award went to Kate Goodall Gray of KRM Development, which manages the Chesapeake Bay Business Park. The company owns about 85 acres in the industrial park and has built out about 65 percent. “We build a lot of speculative space. Our philosophy is build it and they will come, and it seems to work,” Gray said of the location´s success. Gray has been with KRM for seven years and manages the company´s office at the business park. “We do property management, construction management and leasing. I do a bit of everything,” she said. Gray received a standing ovation after her named was called. “I didn´t know until I showed up and saw some of my family there at the dinner … I knew something was going on,” she said of the award. “It is quite an honor to be recognized … and to be a member of the Chamber.” Entrepreneur of the Year went to Corsica Technologies, launched in 2003 by former Marine Corps Sergeants Dale Walls and Dwayne Wagner, and Walls’s wife Jody. The company has eight employees and is located on Water Street in Centreville. Corsica Technologies provides information technology services for small to medium businesses, residential customers and government agencies. The company serves the Eastern Shore as well as the rest of Maryland, Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia. Corsica Technologies has a diverse client base ranging from the small-town office in Sudlersville or family-owned businesses like Edwards Pharmacy and Ashley Insurance in Centreville to larger businesses like the Annapolis Dermatology Center and federal agencies like the State Department. Jody Walls is also the current president of Chesapeake Women´s Network and is launching the group´s Young Professionals next month, bringing professionals together to socialize and network. “For being such a young company, the receipt of this year´s award is a tremendous honor,” said Dale Walls. “The award is a reflection of our team´s hard work and determination throughout the year to service our customers. For me personally, I couldn´t be more thankful of the support we´ve received from our customers and colleagues at the Chamber. Even more so is my appreciation of Duane and Jody for their sacrifices that have contributed to such a successful organization. With all we´ve accomplished together thus far, I can only comment to the community that there are only better things to come,” he said. Corsica Technologies is gold certified in the Microsoft Partner Program, demonstrating expertise in Microsoft technologies with proven results to meet customer needs. The Environmental Awareness Award went to Vicki Paulas, restoration manager at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. Paulas has been with the agency since July 2003. “It was nice to be recognized. I was very honored that all my sweat and dirty clothes have been put to good use,” Paulas joked. Paulas said she was also honored for CBEC, which she said is a unique place on the Eastern Shore. “We do a lot of oyster planting … work with artificial reefs and submerged aquatic vegetation. But my main focus right now is education. We are working with a lot of after school enrichment clubs and youth groups…getting youth interested in restoration,” said Paulas. When kids learn about restoration, they will take it home and talk about it with their parents or other adults and that keeps the cycle of community awareness growing and growing, she said. Paulas said CBEC has served over 10,000 kids a year with just a staff of five and that in itself is quite an accomplishment. “We have such a dedicated group of volunteers,” she said. Restoration means not only teaching people who come into the center but those who work in the community as well, said Paulas. “We go out to homeowners who have questions about eroding shorelines … and we just did a workshop for Realtors,” she said, as well as taking youth groups to Terrapin Nature Park and working on the Corsica Rain Barrel gardening project to keep sediment from flowing into the Bay. Volunteer of the Year Kathy Kelly said she “doesn´t do recognition well” and did not want the attention, but she was pleased with the award. “I used to work, but now I volunteer. I did fundraisers for schools and now I´ve moved on to bigger things,” she said. She and husband Clyde, of Kelly Distributors in Easton, sponsored the Chamber´s Black Tie, White Boots event, and Kathy was the brainstorm behind last year´s very successful May Fair at the Old Wye Church. “My next project is the Bosom Buddies Ball. We´re raising money for the mammogram machines at the new medical center on Kent Island,” she said. The event will be held in January and is tentatively set for the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club. Chip Brittingham received the Community Outreach Award for efforts above and beyond the call of duty. “He is just an unbelievable gentleman, and his dedication to this community is priceless,” said Linda Friday, president of the Chamber. Brittingham was out of town. Friday said the recipients are each special in their own way. “They were all nominated by someone in the community, and the committee goes through and rates each one,” she said of the process of selection. Friday said next year the Chamber is planning to allow members to vote electronically.
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