Victoria Salisch Receives CalChamber Small Business Advocate of the Year Award

The California Chamber of Commerce honored five small business executives yesterday with its “2009 Small Business Advocate of the Year” award, recognizing recipients for their advocacy efforts on behalf of small businesses.

The CalChamber presented the awards at a luncheon before more than 400 attendees at the CalChamber Business Summit in Sacramento.

2009 Winners (left to right:) Mark Waronek, Victoria Salisch, Dave Penry, Lou Monville. Not pictured Cynthia Schnieder

    2009 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award recipients are:

  • Victoria Salisch, Partner, Lang, Richert & Patch, Attorneys at Law, Fresno
  • Lou Monville, Vice President, O’Reilly Public Relations, Riverside
  • Dave Penry, Owner, Pacific Landscapes, Santa Rosa
  • Cynthia Schneider, Senior Vice President, American Security Bank, Corona
  • Mark Waronek, Owner, Waronek and Associates, Torrance

Honorees are nominated by local chambers and selected by a task force comprised of members of the CalChamber Small Business Committee and the Local Chamber Advisory Council. The criteria used in the selection process include taking leadership roles in or working on federal, state or local ballot measures, testifying before the state Legislature and representing a local chamber of commerce before local government.

Victoria Salisch, Partner, Lang, Richert & Patch, Attorneys at Law, Fresno

Al Smith, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce, nominated Victoria Salisch, saying, “Victoria has proven to be a valuable asset for the Chamber and a strong representative for the business community. She has always taken an active role in leading on issues that are important to the business community, our region and the state.”
Salisch has served on the chamber’s board of directors, the government affairs council, the government outreach committee and the downtown revitalization committee. In 2008, Salisch served as chair of the chamber’s political action committee. She helped the PAC make endorsements in several key races: mayor, city council, school board and state Assembly. Salisch also has taken a lead role in the chamber’s effort to convince the city and county to consolidate public safety services. Since 2005, Salisch has served on committees that have examined how the city and county can keep public safety costs under control merging some functions. She serves on the Joint Powers Authority — a governance model selected by city and county officials to help move the consolidation forward. She also has spent time in Sacramento helping the Greater Fresno Chamber take an active role in legislation by testifying before policy committees, writing letters to the editor and sending letters to legislators.

Lou Monville, Vice President, O’Reilly Public Relations, Riverside

Cindy Roth, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, nominated Monville, saying, “Individuals such as Lou Monville do not simply serve on committees or task forces when an issue arises, nor is his commitment to serving businesses and his community simply an admirable demonstration of volunteerism. It is truly his passion. Our chamber has turned to Mr. Monville time and again for his unyielding leadership and support of initiatives and legislation that keeps jobs in our region.”

Monville has become the chamber’s leading advocate for business-friendly legislation and initiatives as chairman of the governmental affairs council. In that position, he became the leading force in modernizing how the chamber gets involved in the political process and initiated the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Political Action Committee (GRCCPAC). As chairman of the GRCCPAC, he and the committee endorsed pro-job candidates, helping an entire delegation win the 2008 general election. His advocacy efforts, as well as his dedication to strengthening California’s future workforce have led him to become the first Inland Empire resident to be appointed to a position on the California State University Board of Trustees. Monville also serves on the boards of several business and community associations, including the President’s Advancement Council at California State University, San Bernardino, and the California Inland Empire Council Boy Scouts of America. As a past chairman of the Greater Riverside Chambers, and present vice president of O’Reilly Public Relations, Monville provides public affairs council to businesses and public agencies and is continuously at the pulse of uses that affect the local economy.

Dave Penry, Owner, Pacific Landscapes, Santa Rosa

Dave Penry was nominated by Christopher Lynch, executive vice president of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce. In a letter, Mari Featherstone, 2009 chair of the Santa Rosa Board of Directors, commended Penry for “representing what is best about small business leadership in our area: tireless advocacy for sensible business and demonstration that a company that cares about its employees and the environment can be successful and profitable.”

Penry has been an outstanding active advocate on immigration issues at the federal level, water conservation at the state level and community business issues at the local level. In his nine years as a member of the Santa Rosa Chamber, Penry has been active on the Santa Rosa Chamber Advocacy Council and its Environmental Resources Committee. He gained national attention as one of the TV spokespersons for the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, which lobbied with the U.S. Chamber on immigration reform. Penry worked closely with the George W. Bush administration on those efforts and lobbied members of Congress as well. Penry is also a past president of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA), and created the Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper training program, which was the second such program to be nationally recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pacifica Landscapes won the 2008 Sonoma County Business Environmental Alliance Best Practices award and has been named one of the best places to work in the North Bay for the last three years straight.

Cynthia Schneider, Senior Vice President, American Security Bank, Corona

Cynthia Schneider was nominated by Bobby Spiegel, president and chief executive officer of the Corona Chamber of Commerce. Spiegel said of Schneider, “It is clear that Cynthia’s dedication to effectively representing the interest of Corona businesses at all levels of government has helped bring the return that our Chamber’s members demand on their investment in our chamber. She is a leading example for all business leaders who want to make a lasting impact.”

Schneider, who has been called a “visionary business leader,” serves as the chair of the Corona Chamber’s Legislative Action Committee (LAC). In 2006, while chair of the board of directors, she convinced the board to make an unprecedented investment in representing the interests of the Corona business community at all levels of government. As a result, Corona has built a results-driven business advocacy effort. Schneider has helped to activate the Corona membership on the top 100 most important state legislative proposals. She has helped to educate her members by e-mailing “Call to Action” campaigns and as a result, been able to secure hundreds of letters from the business community on each issue. She also assembles an annual vote record to help hold Corona’s state representatives accountable to the business community.

Mark Waronek, Owner, Waronek and Associates, Torrance

Toni Buck, Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce Board chair, and Dan Keeton, Torrance chairman-elect, co-nominated Mark Waronek, calling him “the journeyman advocate. We’re glad to have the likes of Mark Waronek on our team. We know we can count on him to provide insight, advice and hands-on effort in moving forward with our entire advocacy endeavor. He represents the highest qualities of an advocate for the voice of business in California.”

Waronek served as the mayor of Lomita from 2002-06. Since 2003, Waronek has organized the annual Leadership Torrance class introductory trip to Sacramento, which includes arranging key meetings with various legislators. In May 2008, he organized the first-ever delegation of City of Torrance officials and chamber of commerce leaders on an exploratory and lobbying trip to Sacramento. Specifically, the groups met to discuss the potential “transit center in Torrance,” which was an issue in common for both the chamber and the city. For the last two years, Waronek also has served on the Board of Governors of the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (TACC-PAC). His political background provided insight into fundraising for the TACC-PAC and has helped the PAC take its efforts to a new level. Over the last five years, Waronek has testified on business issues in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and the South Bay — including efforts to save the Los Angeles Air Force Base during the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) hearing, as well as the 310 area code issue — that directly affect the business community.