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Honorees Selected for the 103rd Annual Awards Luncheon Presented by Chevron

Honorees Selected for the 103rd Annual Awards Luncheon Presented by Chevron

Chamber Headlines Press Releases

You are invited to honor your fellow Chamber members and community leaders at the 103rd Annual Awards Luncheon. The luncheon, presented by Chevron, will be held Thursday, April 11th, from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm at Sherwood Hall with a “Networking Power Hour” commencing at 10:00 am.  With an attendance onearly 500, the Annual Awards Luncheon is the single largest gathering of businesspeople in our area. 

“In its 103rd year, the luncheon not only acknowledges outstanding accomplishments but also serves as a source of inspiration for others, fostering a culture of excellence and innovation within the community” exclaims Chamber President & CEO Karin M. Moss.    

The following individuals and organizations are being recognized for their significant contributions to our community: 

Outstanding Small BusinessMag One Media 
Alex Garcia's journey into the world of filmmaking began on the rugged trails of mountain biking in his teenage years. While competing professionally, he discovered his passion for visual storytelling. Established in 2002, Mag One Productions derives its name from the Magnitude Scale, with "Mag 1" symbolizing the brightest stars in the sky. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Owner Alex Garcia, dedicated himself to the growth of Mag One Productions, expanding business by freelance producing for NBC San Jose in 2005.  

Today, Alex has propelled Mag One Productions to new heights. In 2016, a rebrand to Mag One Media expanded their services, offering digital marketing, website development, design, social media marketing, and audiovisual presentations. Serving a diverse clientele spanning local, national, and international markets across various industries, from banking to automotive, Alex has proudly collaborated with global giants, enhancing their worldwide marketing endeavors. Committed to excellence, Alex ensures each project is infused with creativity. Mag One Media's mission is to unite communities through video production, social media, and strategic digital marketing.   

Mag One Media's dedication to community unity extends beyond its business objectives. Collaborating with non-profit organizations and municipal clients, the company actively participates in initiatives aimed at supporting local causes and events. Through video production, social media outreach, and strategic digital marketing campaigns, Mag One Media amplifies the voices of these organizations, helping them reach wider audiences and achieve their goals. Whether it's raising awareness for important issues or promoting community events, Mag One Media leverages its expertise to make a positive impact and contribute to the betterment of the community.  

With a team that's steadily expanding to nine members, Alex and his colleagues at Mag One Media are committed to serving their community through effective digital marketing solutions.


Outstanding Large Business: SSB Construction 
SSB Construction wouldn’t be where it is today without thhard work of the past. Founded as Salinas Steel Builders in 1945 by Homer Goldman as a Butler building dealer, SSB now offers a wide range of commercial construction services throughout the Salinas Valley, Central Coast, and across the west coast.   

As a third-generation family business, SSB remains firmly rooted in the local community. The company proudly supports a number of non-profit organizations, including the Natividad Medical Foundation, Monterey County Food Bank, Hartnell College Foundation, and the Andrew and Phyllis D’Arrigo Charitable Foundation. Stephen Goldman is also a regular volunteer feeding the homeless at Al & Friends in Monterey.   

For over 75 years, SSB has been built on trust, respect, and inclusion. Our people, many of whom have been with the company for over a decade, are our most important asset. We inspire meaningful relationships that set us apart in how we work with our customers, how we serve our teammates, and how we give back to our communities. At SSB, we never stop learning—and we always strive to live up to our highest potential.  


Businesswoman of the Year: Nancy Valdez 
As a first-generation Latina, Nancy Valdez earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Nancy is blessed to be the wife of Gabriel Varela and mother to four amazing children, Nate, Biance, Cassie, and Bella. For more than two decades, Nancy has held various positions within the American Cancer Society and currently serves as a Senior Development Manager in the Salinas Valley. She is responsible for promoting, implementing, and raising funds for two special events. Under Nancy's leadership, Relay for Life of the Salinas Valley reached #1 in California and #3 in the nation, fundraising $505,617.40 in 2023; the ACS Fashion show was also in the Top 100.  Nancy is also a Rotarian with the Santa Lucia Rotary Club.


In addition to Nancy’s professional career, she has volunteered extensively with the Salinas Valley League United Latin American Citizens Chapter (L.U.L.A.C. Chapter #2995) as a Youth Mentor for over 35 years. She has also held various youth-targeted positions with California LULAC. Nancy has organized a local food drive every year since 2005 to help less fortunate families in the Salinas Valley during the Thanksgiving season, providing food baskets to over 4,000 families. Nancy has also served on the board of the Central Coast Center for Independent Living (CCCIL) and local housing non-profit CHISPA. She is passionate about empowering people and advocating for underserved individuals. In 2012, Nancy’s youngest child Bella was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) when she was only five months old. Bella is now 11 years old and is her superhero.  

Agricultural Leadership: Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) 
Since 2001, ALBA has been creating opportunities for low-income field laborers through land-based training in organic farm management, helping them advance their careers or pursue the dream of farm ownership. ALBA provides intensive, on-farm training and access to resources for aspiring farm business owners for up to 5 years. Though ALBA welcomes aspiring farmers from all backgrounds, Mexican immigrants and U.S.-Born Latinos represent 85-90% of participants in the program.  
ALBA’s program starts in year 1 with the bilingual and college-accredited Farmer Education Course, designed to prepare participants to launch a farm, covering a wide array of topics ranging from production to business to regulatory compliance. Graduates of the course may then launch their own farm business on ALBA's land. They can scale up to 5+ acres over 4 more years, gradually mastering the responsibilities of farm business ownership before they transition to independent farming operations. Over 23 years, ALBA has launched more than 250 farms of which 80+ are actively farming, accounting for 35%+ of the organic farms in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.   


Citizen of the Year: Esmeralda Montenegro Owen 
Esmeralda is an immigrant from El Salvador and grew up in Los Angeles. Fleeing a country torn by a civil war was not easy. At 11, she had to travel a long way to get to the United States and start over. Learning English was one of the first challenges but her dedication to an education and becoming a good member of society were her priorities and she reached for the stars. She earned dual bachelor's degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Spanish at the University of Southern California (USC) and earned a Master’s in Public Administration at Notre Dame de Namur University.   She was introduced to the Central Coast in 2005 when she was hired as a News Anchor for Univision 67, where she earned an Emmy Nomination for investigative reporting. Along with 10 years in broadcast TV, Esmeralda has held leadership positions at the National Steinbeck Center, Hartnell College, and Youth Orchestra Salinas. She has been a professor of communication studies at Gavilan College since 2011 and enjoys sharing her experience with students who value the practical part of their educational experience.  

Along with her work experience, Owen takes time to be a mentor to youth in the community, and an integral part of the board of directors for Sunset Cultural Center, the California International Airshow Salinas, and Hand2Stand. She has served on the boards of Hospice Giving Foundation, Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Informed Choices.  This year, Esmeralda is a 2024 Visionary of the Year Candidate for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society In 2020, she started her Marketing and Public Relations consulting practice and established Precious Stone PR Inc. Owen has created marketing campaigns for non-profit organizations on the Central Coast 

Spirit of the CommunityAndy D'Arrigo  
Andy's life journey is remarkable, from his service in the U.S. Navy to his pivotal role in expanding D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of California into a major agricultural enterprise. His dedication to the company, even during challenging times like the 1970s, highlights his strong leadership and resilience Andy's commitment to the Salinas Valley is commendable. His involvement in various non-profit organizations focusing on youth, senior services, community health, historical preservation, and animal welfare showcases his deep-rooted care for the well-being of his community.   The continuity of family involvement in the company, with Andy's son John now leading as President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, reflects a legacy of strong family values and business acumen. The fact that fourth-generation family members are actively engaged in the company further underscores the enduring success of D'Arrigo Bros. Co. 

The longevity of the Andy Boy label, featuring a childhood photo of Andy himself, symbolizes the company's rich history and enduring brand recognition in the produce industry. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023 is a testament to the company's resilience and adaptability over the years. As Andy continues to serve as Chairman Emeritus at the age of 100, his contributions to Salinas Valley agriculture and the broader community leave an indelible mark, inspiring generations to come. 

Ambassador of the Year: Laura Kershner 
Laura Kershner is a communications professional trained in media and public relations, non-profit communications, government relations, cable franchise coordination, telecommunications, live television news production and workforce development. Over the years, she's volunteered with the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee, the Salinas Valley Businesswomen’s Network, The First Mayor's House, Fund Builders Alliance, Monterey County Theatre Alliance, Job Developer's Networking Group, City of Salinas, General Plan Steering Committee, and she's a graduate of Leadership Salinas Valley - Class XXVI. 

Laura’s background includes working behind the scenes in local media, for non-profit organizations, and local government.  She currently works for the Monterey County Workforce Development Board as a business liaison to bring together local employers and jobseekers here in Monterey County. When she’s not working, she’s busy singing in four-part, acapella harmony with the Monterey Bay Belles ladies’ barbershop chorus; and her quartet, Vocal Point.  She also enjoys singing in a small choir at Grace Community Church in Prunedale.   

Laura is a native of Bakersfield, California and moved to Monterey County in 1996.  She is a nineteen ninety-one graduate of Cal State University, Bakersfield with a double major in Communications and History and a minor in Political Science.  She also graduated from Bakersfield College with an A.A. Degree in Liberal Arts.  In recent years, Laura has enjoyed traveling the world with her sister, Debbie. 

Anniversaries in 2023: Member Businesses celebrating 10, 25, and 50 years of Chamber membership will also be honored for their continued support. 

We are honored to extend a warm “THANK YOU!” to our sponsors, whose support make this event possible (as of the publication deadline): 
Presenting Sponsor:  Chevron 
Silver Sponsors: Alliant Insurance Services, Central Coast Federal Credit UnionD'Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, Pinnacle Bank, California Water Service, RHC Management Co, LLC dba McDonalds 
Bronze Sponsors: Leavitt Central Coast, Fenton and Keller, 1st Capital Bank, Alvarez Technology Group Inc., Goodwill Central Coast, Noland, Hamerly, Etienne & Hoss, Santa Cruz County Bank, Bay Federal Credit Unionand Vistra 
Media Sponsor: KION-TV 
In-Kind SponsorMission Linen 
Plaque Sponsor: Pinnacle Bank 
Caterer: Shahram Farahmand and The Steinbeck House 

For more information, call the Chamber Office at (831) 751-7725 or visit  


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