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Awards recognize those who served San Clemente community

Christina Carbonara was given the 2015 “Citizen of the Year” Award. Photo: Eric Heinz
Christina Carbonara was given the 2015 “Citizen of the Year” Award. Photo: Eric Heinz

Click here to see a slideshow of the awards ceremony

By Eric Heinz

On Thursday, Feb. 18, at Bella Collina Towne and Golf Club, the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce hosted its Annual Meeting of Members, Installation of Officers & Directors and Award Ceremony.

Various stalwarts of the community were recognized for their achievements throughout the year as well as long-term dedication.

The new Chamber Board of Directors for 2016 was announced, and the 2015 winners were honored with their respective recognitions.

Awards were also given to recipients from Assemblyman Bill Brough, State Sen. Patricia Bates, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa and the city of San Clemente.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”] 2016 San Clemente Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and Board of Directors 

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Chairman of the Board James J. Wynne “Johnston Pacific Commercial Real Estate, Inc.” Vice Chairman Antoine Price “Café Mimosa” Chief Financial Officer Chuck Narey “Hayden, Narey & Persich, CPA” Immediate Past Chairman Mike Burke “Burke Consulting” 1st Vice Chairman Pat Huber “Rainbow Sandals” 2nd Vice Chairman Steve Ynzunza “Coast Property Services, GC”

DIRECTORS Jeff Bott “Transportation Corridor Agencies” Burton Brown “Atomi Financial Group” Will Howard “Dragon Alliance” Nancy Hunt “Keller Williams Realty” Susan Jennrich “Outlets at San Clemente” Don Kindred “Kindred Associates” Stavros Lozano “Inka Mama’s Peruvian Cuisine” Mike Reilly “Starfish Signs & Graphics” Dick Rodriguez “Rod’s Tree Service” Tony Struthers “Saddleback Memorial Medical Ctr. SC” Viet Tran “Southern California Edison” Kathy Ward S.C. Council Liaison Sam Pelham Camp Pendleton Liaison[/box]

Educator of the Year: Duncan Wilson

Duncan Wilson has been in San Clemente for 54 years and has been an exemplary biology, physics and human biology teacher at San Clemente High School.

“I have to share this award with the people I work with at the school,” Wilson said.

Presenting the award, SCHS Principal Chris Carter described Wilson as a “lifelong learner.”

“He has used his expertise to teach students as well as his coworkers and department,” Carter said.

Wilson has been involved in various volunteer programs throughout the city, according to Chamber officials.

Business of the Year: Dragon Alliance

An innovator in sports protection and designer eyewear, Dragon Alliance has grown to the international market in its field.

According to Chamber officials, the business began in 1993 in a garage in Capistrano Beach. The company’s founder, Will Howard, wanted to bring style to another level in the industry.

They have also sponsored events in the community as well as given back to the U.S. Marine Corps near San Clemente.

“We’re a business that understands we’re only as good as the people that surround us,” Howard said. “I’m very blessed to be surrounded by great people who not only are dedicated to what they love but also are mindful of the needs of others.”

Citizen of the Year: Christina Carbonara

Four generations of the Carbonara family were present at the award ceremony on Feb. 18. Councilwoman Lori Donchak presented the award to Christina Carbonara.

“Christina graduated from San Clemente High School … and spent most of her life working in her family’s restaurant (Carbonara Trattoria),” Donchak said.

Carbonara is also the president of the Downtown Business Association.

“She currently has 150 businesses under her organization. And if you ask any of her membership, she’s the one who can find the common ground to get people to work together,” Donchak said.

Tackling legal responsibilities and being on the boards of homeowners associations also are some of Carbonoara’s accomplishments, as well as bringing heart-health awareness to the community.

“It’s such an honor to be up here because it just continues the legacy of what my dad started so many years ago,” Carbonara said. “He was all about the community and all about the city and wanted to bring everyone together.”

Carbonara said she does everything that she does within the community because she enjoys it and it is fun.

Volunteer of the Year: Jim Wynne

Jim Wynne, senior vice president of Johnston Pacific Commercial Real Estate, Inc., has contributed significant volunteer time to the surfing community in San Clemente and has helped out at various events in the community.

“Many individuals go beyond the call of duty as a Chamber member and exhibit an untiring commitment to the organization,” Chamber officials said in a statement. “They all have separate jobs or run their own businesses. However, they contribute hundreds of hours a year to your Chamber of Commerce to make sure the mission statement and program of work is carried out.”

Lifetime Achievement Award: Peggy Vance

As the executive director of the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation, Peggy Vance has dedicated more than two decades to being part of San Clemente’s outdoor activities and community engagements.

Admittedly, Vance said, she wasn’t sure what San Clemente would be like when she first arrived.

“I kind of came from Arizona kicking and screaming with my husband,” Vance said. “Now, I kick and scream whenever I have to go back to Arizona. There probably isn’t one person in the audience here tonight who I don’t know or haven’t worked with.”

Jim Nielsen, a member of the Foundation, mentioned Vance’s work at the San Clemente Senior Center and has helped with Boy Scout troops and has been the main director of the San Clemente Ocean Festival for more than 20 years.

“There’s a lot of people I have to thank here,” Vance said.

Ambassador of the Year: Rick Divel

Helping host mixology competitions, the Taste of San Clemente and meeting with the Marines at Camp Pendleton, Rick Divel was recognized by the Chamber for his above-and-beyond contributions to reaching out to many people in the community.

Divel thanked his wife, his family and the members of the Chamber for his recognition.

Chamber officials said Divel has volunteered at almost every event the Chamber hosted this year.

Norma Diaz-Hernandez

At the end of the presentations, master of ceremonies City Councilman Tim Brown spoke about Norma Diaz-Hernandez, a Chamber of Commerce employee who was diagnosed with brain cancer in December. Diaz-Hernandez has mounting medical bills for her care and has five children and a husband.

“The residents (of San Clemente) step up in meaningful ways when someone needs help, and (that’s what) Norma does,” Brown said. “I would like to encourage those who have received so much from the city … to give back a little bit to her family. We love her, and she deserves our best efforts.”

Carbonara dedicated her award for Citizen of the Year to Diaz-Hernandez during her speech.

[box]Norma Diaz-Hernandez Benefit

The San Clemente Chamber of Commerce will host a dinner and silent auction benefit at the OC Tavern, 2369 S. El Camino Real, at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, to benefit Chamber employee Norma Diaz-Hernandez. Diaz-Hernandez was diagnosed with brain cancer in December. “Norma, her husband and 5 children need our support,” Chamber Executive Director Lynn Wood said. “Norma has contributed so much to this community working for the Chamber of Commerce over the past 17 years. She loves this community and thinks of you all as friends and family.” Additionally, a GoFundMe site has been set up to help with her medical bills. Visit for more information.[/box]

Editor’s note: In the Feb. 25-March 2 edition of the San Clemente Times, the list of Board of Directors in the information box did not list all of the directors. This article has been corrected to reflect all of the Chamber of Commerce 2016 Board of Directors. 

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