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February 10, 2012 > Chamber of Commerce honors heroes

Chamber of Commerce honors heroes

Submitted By Kim Huggett
Photos By Courtesy of Kim Huggett

Hayward honored recipients of the Business Person, Educator, Firefighter and Police Officer of the Year Award at the 68th Annual Hayward Chamber of Commerce Awards Celebration Gala, on January 28, 2012, in the University Union at California State University, East Bay, 25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard, Hayward.

Julie McKillop, Business Person of the Year
Julie McKillop, owner and executive chef of Neumanali Restaurant and principal of McKillop Accountancy, received the Business Person of the Year Award, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. A lifelong Hayward resident and graduate of Cal State East Bay, she and husband Tim began a major redevelopment project in 2000 that became the upscale wine-centric, Victorian-style restaurant Neumanali. Both her restaurant and accountancy business are located downtown, across from city hall. Her long record of public service includes serving on the boards of directors of Spectrum Community Services, the Hayward Historical Society, St. Rose Hospital and the Hayward Chamber of Commerce. She also served on the Hayward Planning Commission, the city's Small Business Revolving Loan Committee and has worked with the Women's Initiative for Self-Employment.

Hector Garcia, Educator of the Year
Hector Garcia has been an educational leader for 16 years, most recently as principal of Harder Elementary School. At Harder, he has worked with universities, public health and safety agencies in Hayward and Alameda County to leverage support, tutoring and professional development resources to transform Harder into a model school. He initiated an arts program in Hayward in 1998 for elementary and middle school students called Mariachi Juvenil de Hayward, which serves students and families throughout the East Bay. He served as director of curriculum and instruction at Alameda County Office of Education for five years, focusing on the needs of underachieving student populations and organized parent education forums throughout the county, utilizing parents as facilitators, leaders and advocates. This award is sponsored by Armas Consulting Group.

Captain Joe Stilwell, Firefighter of the Year
Hayward Fire Capt. Joe Stilwell discovered his love for the fire service as a young man when he joined the volunteer fire department in Chico. He became a paramedic, then a firefighter and joined the Hayward Fire Department in 2005. Early in his career with HFD, he noticed that the department's ventilation saws were stalling during operations due to tar build-up. On his own time, he fabricated a metal guard to protect the motor, a feature now used throughout the fire service. He also developed new hose rollers for HFD equipment, saving the city considerable cost in maintenance and equipment. Embracing the HFD commitment to community service, he has worked on the annual Toys for Kids Program and the charity golf tournament. He has responsibility for the HFD's popular 1923 Seagrave fire engine that is exhibited at community functions and which is representative of Hayward's appreciation for its fire service and city history. Paramedics Plus is sponsor of the Firefighter of the Year award.

Faye Thomas, Police Officer of the Year
Officer Faye Thomas began her law enforcement career at 16, when she began volunteering at the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office and, in 1999, was hired there as an administrative assistant. She later became a dispatcher and in 2009 became an officer with the Hayward Police Department. Over her two years in the HPD, she has consistently been a leader among her peers in arrests, citations and DUI suppression. In July 2010 she initiated a project that led to an investigation of human exploitation and trafficking that involved nine Bay Area municipalities and three countries. Largely as a result of her work, 15 suspects were taken into custody and three victims rescued from human trafficking. Officer Thomas put herself through a Drug Abuse Recognition Course and Narcotic Investigators School and has taught coursework in drug trends and investigation to more than 100 HPD officers. She is also in demand as a speaker on child abduction issues and is a participant in Susan Komen Cancer Society fund-raisers. Her next goal is to obtain a law degree and earn a doctorate in international relations. This award is sponsored by St. Rose Hospital.

For more information, call (510) 537-2424 or visit www.hayward.org

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