Greater North Fulton Chamber Focuses On Community Growth.

Food North Fulton Herald Julia Grochowski

Repost - The Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards breakfast Tuesday, Aug. 23 recognizing local community leaders.


Since 2000, the GNFCC has honored a new Small Business Person of the Year for their “vast knowledge and broad expertise in their industries and a commitment to nurture the economic prosperity, quality of life and positive reputation of the region,” said Kendra Plotkin, GNFCC director of operations.


This year’s winner of the Small Business Person of the Year category was Walter Woliver, owner of Alpha Office Products. He was chosen out of four finalists who were all recognized as 2016 Business Persons of Excellence. They are Mary Becker, founder of Best Deal Movers; Kurt Hilbert, managing member and founder of the Hilbert Law Firm, LLC; Michael Lundmark, founder, president and CEO of Jekyll Brewing; and Dr. James Morrow, founder of Marrow Family Medicine.


Woliver was selected as the 2016 award recipient by the nine members of the Small Business Committee using criteria that included “growth and longevity, principal ownership and community involvement, innovation and response to adversity and chamber membership.”


“[Woliver] exemplifies entrepreneurial spirit, dedication, hard work and sound business practices. He is a shining example of commitment to our community,” said Plotkin. “[He] serves as a role model and inspiration to others who are following their dream of being a business owner.”


Woliver lives in Roswell and owns Alpha Office Products, an eco-friendly company offering office supplies, technology and furniture. He has been a Rotarian since 1995 and now serves as the club’s public relations chair. He is also the treasurer of the Roswell Masonic Lodge #165.


Starting in 2014, the GNFCC also annually honors a Nonprofit Leader of the Year.


This year’s award went to Rachel Ewald, the founder and chairwoman of the Foster Care Support Foundation. She was selected out of seven other finalists, five of whom were selected as winners of the 2016 Community Impact Award.


The winners were: Russell E. Hayes, CEO of Habitat for Humanity-North Central Georgia, Inc.; John McLaughlin, executive director of North Metro Miracle League, Inc.; Monica Oliveira, executive director of STAR House Foundation; Donna Smyth, executive director of Child Development Association; and Kathy Swahn, executive director of The Drake House.


A seven-person committee chose Ewald for her “talent, dedication and success as a leader who serves the community with compassion and professionalism,” Plotkin said. “The winner serves as a role model and inspiration to others.”


The Foster Care Support Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2000, supports an average of 3,500 foster and displaced children annually with clothes, toys, school supplies and infant care equipment. Ewald, the founder, also served on the Governor’s Office of Children and Families advisory board for four years under Sonny Perdue.


The GNFCC awards ceremony likewise recognized Robert Farley, co-founder and artistic director of the Georgia Ensemble Theatre, as the first recipient of the Nonprofit Vision Award.


“The Nonprofit Vision Award was created to honor the visionaries in our community who abound with creativity and passion, making a difference in the places we live, work and play,” Plotkin said.


Tillie O’Neal-Kyles, founder of Every Woman Works, was also the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for her service and accomplishments throughout her career. During the ceremony, Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis presented O’Neal-Kyles with a proclamation designating Aug. 23, 2016 as Miss Tillie O’Neal-Kyles Appreciation Day.


To learn more about GNFCC and the 2016 Chamber Awards, visit

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