Judy Ward – Citizen of the Year 2019

Judith Ward was born and raised in the Bay Area, attended local schools and raised her family here. After retiring from working with at-risk youth, she began pursuing a number of volunteer activities. Currently she divides her time between SPAWNERS (San Pablo Watershed Neighbors Education and Restoration Society) and the board of the El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce. She and her husband Bart are also avid home cider makers.

Scott Tuffnell – Citizen of the Year 2018

Scott discovered El Sobrante in 1999 while visiting his wife Jenny’s office.  Jenny and her brother Vaughn Spunaugle  had their law office on Appian Way next to Biancos Deli.  Scott was training to be a chef at the Contra Costa College Culinary School and would stop by the office after classes.  He watched the caterers going in and out of the deli and said that one day he would like to own a business like that.

A few months later near the end of 1999, Scott was hired by the owner of Biancos to be the catering manager.

A few months later the owner approached Scott to see if he wanted to buy the business.  A deal was struck, and Scott became the third owner of Bianco’s Deli.  He made a few changes, including changing the name to Biancos Deli and Catering, and went to work.  That same year he was approached by a member of the chamber to join as a way to promote the business.

Within a year he was approached by the nominating committee to join the board.  He got involved with several chamber activities, catered mixers and attended board meetings.  He got very involved with the Stroll, his first one as a vendor in 2001.  The date of the Stroll was September 16, 2001.  Five days before the stroll, the country was attacked on September 11th.  The chamber considered cancelling the stroll, but ultimately determined to go forth with the stroll to allow the community to gather together and support each other.  Scott says that day showed him the value of being of service to the community like no other community event had before or since.

In 2005 Scott was elected for the first time as President of the Board.  That year they moved the Stroll to the parking lot of the Boys and Girls Club after the board felt it needed a break from doing it on San Pablo Dam Rd.  During that day, while walking through the gym where the first (and only) annual  chili cook off was held, Scott met up with the Club director and another local businessman, Mike Rowland. They talked about how great a place the club would be for a Haunted House on Halloween.  Six weeks later, they, along with a great group of volunteers, put on the first Boys and Girls Club Haunted House.  It also began a great friendship with Mike.

In January 2009, Scott left the Deli business and went to work at his wife and brother-in-law’s law office.  At nights, he attended UC Berkeley Extension and received Certification as a Paralegal.  He worked there for five years.

Scott approached Mike Rowland in 2014 about becoming a real estate agent.  He became a Realtor with Windermere Realty,  and is now honored to be the Office Manager of Mike & Renee’s Pinole office.

Scott was again elected to serve as President on December 14, 2016 and has been re-elected twice since then, currently serving as President for 2019.

Scott says his accomplishments are the result of relentlessly looking for the path to success,  and traveling that path with fellow journeymen, peers and co-workers, co-conspirators and great friends.  Every challenge, each set-back was met with the determination to move ever forward, and to bring the community along with him.

Mary Hill – Citizen of the Year 2017

Mary was born and raised in Guam, the fifth child of a Catholic family of eleven children. She and her husband left Guam in 1971 for Georgia, but in 1972 moved to California where Bryan, her first son was born. She returned to Guam in 1973 where her son Kevin was born. When he was 3 weeks old the family moved to Hawaii, for special medical treatment for Kevin. They lived in Hawaii until 1981. Upon returning to the U.S. mainland, she settled in Richmond, where she bore her third son, Justin, in 1986. In addition to her sons, she has two granddaughters and four grandsons. Mary raised her family, living and working in Richmond, serving the community in sales and in the banking field since 1982. She started her career with Mechanics Bank on September 3rd, 2003, and just retired this last December. Mary also served as Secretary for our Chamber Board for years, but in 2011 had to resign her position to battle lung cancer. She is so glad to say, she will be cancer free for 7 years in March of this year. Why is Mary so deserving of this award tonight? Mary exemplifies what makes our community so special. She demonstrates a high standard of work ethics, dedication and loyalty to her employer, and genuine friendliness and excellent customer service as a teller at Mechanics Bank. Congratulations to Mary Hill, on being named Citizen of the Year 2017!

Martha Booz – Citizen of the Year 2016

Martha was born in 1940 in Chicago, the eldest of three daughters. In 1946 her family moved to Pasadena, California, where she was raised. She graduated from Pasadena High School in 1958, and went on to Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where she studied German. Martha studied abroad while living with a German family and in 1962 received her BA in German. She took a Master’s in German in 1964, and earned a General Secondary teaching credential.

Martha had been a high school teacher for 4 years when she decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology. In 1973 she married Jim Ullrey, moved to UC Davis, and entered the Ph.D. Program. Within 8 years she had 2 daughters and had received her Ph.D. Her career began with a 2 year position with the USDA lab in Albany, and progressed to a position at Bio-Rad Labs in 1983. While at Bio-Rad she developed and managed the technical service department. She also worked as a project manager for the company’s website until her retirement in 2008.

Her hobbies include gardening, especially with California native plants, taking her dog for walks, knitting, and contributing to the community of El Sobrante. She has graciously served as the Chamber liaison with the county, overseeing the Trees and Planters Project on San Pablo Dam Road. She is the editor of the Chamber’s “About Town” newsletter, and keeps the Chamber website updated. She is the President of the Friends of El Sobrante Library, giving hours every week to that organization. She also collected signatures for a petition to the Richmond City Council to downzone the hills to the south of El Sobrante from housing to agricultural and recreational. The petition drive was successful, and resulted in the Richmond City Council adopting an ordinance changing the Richmond General Plan to prevent further housing development in the hills.

Martha is an energetic, dedicated, clever and interesting person, who has great ideas and vision and she’s not finished yet! She wants to work at least another 10 years both in the community and in the work force. The Chamber feels lucky to have such a dedicated person wanting to contribute to the community. She comments, “It’s just so much fun for me! I really enjoy contributing and helping!” Continue reading