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2020 Recognition Gala

Every year the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce recognizes honorees in seven different categories at the annual Recognition Gala. This year, the event will be held on March 6, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency Westlake with over 300 guests in attendance. Let’s meet the winners.


Business of the Year Atara Biotherapeutics

Woman of the Year Leanne Neilson

Man of the Year Scott Harris

Nonprofit of the Year Conejo Free Clinic

Ambassador of the Year Debbie Soden

Corporate Sponsor of the Year TechAhead, Inc.

Volunteer of the Year Bob Bland Business of the Year – Atara Biotherapeutics

This biotech company is paving the way in research and development of offthe-shelf, allogeneic T-cell immunotherapies, which provides hope for those faced with cancer, viral and autoimmune diseases. Atara’s product candidate tab-cel is in Phase 3 development for patients with Epstein-Barr virus-associated post-transplant lymphoma as well as in earlier stage development for other EBV-associated diseases. The company is also using their targeted EBV antigen recognition technology to develop a potential treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While newer to Thousand Oaks, this company has been growing since being founded in 2012 and currently employs over 400 professionals. The success of Atara also creates positive momentum to attract other biotech companies for the Conejo Spectrum development.

Man of the Year – Scott Harris, Co-owner of Mustang Marketing

Scott Harris is the CEO of Mustang Marketing, a marketing agency he founded in 1986. He has spent his life contributing to his local community, instilling those values in his company and family. When his children were young, he would read stories to their classes and he helped to build Red Oak Elementary School. Scott has served on — and founded —numerous boards such as Pepperdine University’s Seaver Board of Visitors and Career Action Program, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Foundation, and the Ventura County Community College District Advisory Board. In March, Scott and his wife Randi will retire to a beautiful lakeside home in South Carolina.

Woman of the Year – Leanne Neilson, Provost of California Lutheran University

Leanne came to CLU in 1993 as a member of the psychology faculty and has risen over the years to become Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. As a community leader, Leanne led the Thousand Oaks Alliance for the Arts through a major transition and served as chair of their board this past year. She is the immediate past chair of United Way’s Women United in Ventura County and a member of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Leadership Team. Last spring, Leanne and her husband donated $100,000 to establish an Emergency Support Scholarship Endowment for the university.

Nonprofit of the Year – Conejo Free Clinic

Conejo Free Clinic has been servicing the Conejo Valley for over three decades. The clinic, located on Hillcrest Drive in Community Conscience’s Human Services Center, is run by a staff of close to 100 volunteers, all from different professional backgrounds. In addition to providing medical and legal access to individuals in the community, CFC recently added a dental clinic. The dental clinic is staffed by an all-volunteer team of dentists, dental hygienists, voucher program dental specialists and support staff. CFC believes in an innovative continuity of care philosophy, strongly encouraging follow-up appointments and self-care for all their patients.

2020 Recognition Gala

Volunteer of the Year – Bob Bland

Bob Bland has served as the CEO of the nonprofit Conejo Compassion Coalition for the past 13 years. He is a founding member of the Conejo Valley Homeless Shelter Program, and has been a site coordinator for over 20 years. In 2018, CCC supported victims of the Hill and Woolsey fires by providing them with cash grants and gift cards. In additional to local assistance, Bob travels to countries like Sri Lanka, Malawi and Uganda to assist disadvantaged communities. His passion for helping others in places that have been devastated by natural disasters is simply his desire for making the world a better place.

Ambassador of the Year – Debbie Soden

Debbie Soden of Coldwell Banker Real Estate has been a Chamber ambassador for over five years and served as the Consul General role for the group in 2019. As Consul General, she became an inspirational leader who was dedicated to her role as an advocate for the Chamber. She brings her contagious outgoing energy to every program and has a unique way of making people feel special and seen. She continuously goes above and beyond to help new members integrate into the organization and is a tremendous resource for all Chamber members.

Corporate Sponsor of the Year – TechAhead, Inc.

TechAhead, an international app development company, opened their office in Agoura Hills in 2018 and immediately reached out to the Chamber. They are currently a gold member of the Chairman’s Club program that represents over 60 local corporate partners. In addition to supporting the Chamber, TechAhead also helped The Little Angels Project develop an app that would assist with animal evacuations during future wildfires. Most recently, TechAhead offered to film and promote a professional 1-2 minute video for all 900+ Chamber members at no cost.

Sunday, April 26 2020

est. 1995

Beer and Wine Garden LIVE Music Local Artisan Vendors Classic Car Show Family Fun Zone Gourmet Food Trucks FREE ADMISSION!

Live Music Provided by

PRINT COPY SIGNAGE Offset & Digital Printing/Promotional Printing Signage/Posters/Giclee Prints Bindery/Fulfillment/Mailing Services Servicing Southern California Since 1995

844.652.2638 mike@candugraphics.com 31133 Via Colinas, # 107 , Westlake Village, CA 91362

And come have fun at our new Dunk Tank Some of the “Dunkies” include... Borderline Dancers

• Senator Henry Stern • William Ayub, VC Sheriff • Mayor Kelly Honig, WLV • Tim Hagel, Fmr TO Police Chief • Brad Halpern, WLV Councilmember • Brian Hynes, Borderline • Natalie Mussi, CEO Los Robles Health System • Danielle Borja, CEO GCVCC • Westlake & Oaks Christian football coaches

Thank You To Our Sponsors


1176 Tourmaline Drive Thousand Oaks, CA 91320 805.480.9900 www.venturabiocenter.com

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