Paul Hortobagyi, general manager of Le Merigot Hotel and Spa, was installed as Chairman of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, and the coming year’s new board of directors along with him, at the Chamber’s Installation Dinner at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Thursday evening, June 5. Over 470 movers and shakers and others from business, government, education, and nonprofits gathered for the truly gala event.
The theme of this year’s edition of the 83rd annual affair was “Superstar Employees Sustain Our Future,” and both easels outside the hotel’s Starlight Ballroom and pages in the evening’s program book saluted employees from member businesses who were particularly recognized for such contributions.
This year’s Installation Dinner marked the inauguration of the Bob Gabriel Community Service Business Award, which Gabriel’s daughter Susan Gabriel presented to Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital. Outgoing Chamber Chairman Tom Larmore presented the Roy E. Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award to Richard E. Lawrence of First Private Bank & Trust.
In the past year, the Chamber has brought in new President/CEO Laurel Rosen, increased communication between the business community and City Hall through the new Business Roundtable and advocacy efforts, and played a vocal role in advocating for workforce housing, updating the City’s Land Use and Circulation Element, simplifying implementation of the Styrofoam and smoking bans, and promoting sustainable business practices.
Former Chamber chairman and former mayor Nat Trives moved the evening along as master of ceremonies, and swore in Hortobagyi and the new board of directors. Hortobagyi accepted the challenge of leading the Chamber in “a city as avante garde, progressive, and renowned as Santa Monica.”
The Chamber recognized with Chairman of the Board Awards Megan Sheehy of Locanda del Lago restaurant, Michael Farzam of Ocean Avenue Management hotels, Sharon O’Rourke of Sempra Utilities, Tish Starbuck of Saint John’s Health Center, and Kevin McVearry formerly of Rusty’s Surf Ranch restaurant.
Unlike last year’s music from the Surf City All-stars, a band made up of musicians who toured with the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, new Chamber Chairman Hortobagyi presented Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Allen Robert Gross on the piano performing Chopin’s “Military Polonaise” and, joined by violinist Zlata Grekov, Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen.”