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Pasadena Chamber Celebrates New Leadership, Honors Local Businesses at Annual Gala

180 attendees gather for cocktails, dinner and awards ceremony as youngest-ever board chair takes helm

Published on Monday, July 8, 2024 | 5:11 am

The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce ushered in new leadership and recognized local businesses for their community contributions during its annual Inaugural Gala on June 28 in the Viennese Ballroom of The Langham Huntington, Pasadena.

Katelyn Barchowsky, founder of Storied Lane Marketing, was sworn in as the new chair of the board of directors, becoming the youngest person to hold the position in the Chamber’s 136-year history. California State Senator Anthony Portantino administered the oath of office.

“I am honored to serve as this year’s Chair of the Board of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce,” Barchowsky said in her acceptance speech. “As the youngest person to step into this role, as well as the first in my generation to do so, I am looking forward to leading and serving alongside a dedicated, engaged, and committed Board of Directors and staff.”

Barchowsky was accompanied by her husband, Ansel, and her parents Gail and Jay Harris who came from Pittsburgh, PA, for the event.

The event drew 180 guests, including Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Senator Anthony Portantino, Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo, and other community leaders.

During the ceremony, The Bakewell Company and Friends in Deed were honored as Corporate Citizens of the Year for their contributions to Pasadena’s underserved communities.

Danny Bakewell Jr., accepting the award on behalf of his family’s company, said, “When we developed underused and neglected properties into two grocery stores in northwest Pasadena, we were responding to the needs of the community at a time when there was very little investment in our underserved communities.”

Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater accepted the award on behalf of Friends in Deed, recognizing the organization’s 130-year history of community service, including food assistance, homeless services, and eviction prevention programs.

The gala also featured the presentation of scholarships to emancipated foster youth. Two Bill Bogaard Scholarships, named after the former Pasadena mayor, were awarded to Deana Mendez and Robert Leagons for their graduate studies. Additionally, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, a Chamber member, presented a scholarship to Daniel Bisuano for his undergraduate education at CalStateLA.

Outgoing Chair Don Schweitzer reported that the Chamber had gained over 100 new members since August 2023, highlighting the organization’s growth. “I am especially pleased that our networking events have regained their attendance and are full of energy, enthusiasm and fun,” Schweitzer remarked.

The evening began with a cocktail reception featuring appetizers, a hosted bar, and jazz by Art Deco Entertainment, along with a silent auction. Guests then enjoyed a gourmet dinner including grilled Moyer Farm beef tenderloin and braised garlic shrimp.

Barchowsky emphasized the Chamber’s commitment to serving businesses of all sizes and encouraged members to attend new events to build relationships within the community. “My ask of each member this year is to attend an event you haven’t attended before. Meet your fellow members and build community because that’s how we all prosper together,” she said.

The new board chair also outlined her plans for the coming year, including increasing membership, boosting event attendance, and enhancing outreach efforts. Barchowsky aims to provide more networking and educational opportunities for members and focus on the next generation of business leaders.

As part of the ceremony, Barchowsky swore in new and returning Pasadena Chamber Board members, including Seamus Gray of Pacific Premier Bank and several returning members from various local businesses and organizations.

The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1888 as the Board of Trade, currently serves 1,250 members and continues to play a major role in the development of the city, focusing on enhancing both the business climate and the quality of life in Pasadena.

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