Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Lifetime Achievement Award Goes to… Donna Fiala

Lifetime Achievement Award to Fiala.

The Marco Island Chamber of Commerce presented the Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday evening during a dinner held at Bistro Soleil. The evening festivities honored Donna with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 Leadership Marco class graduation and the installation of the 2020 Board of Directors. Donna is now among a small elite group of past Lifetime Achievement award winners. 

Photos by Val Simon | Pat Haegdorn gives Donna an award from Kiwanis.

Donna listened intently as Craig Woodward, a past recipient of this prestigious award, began giving the background of this year’s chosen recipient. He started by saying “this person is a Chamber member, also a member of the Kiwanis Club, a historical society director, writes a column in our local newspaper. She has served over 19 years as commissioner from 2000 to now and is the only commissioner in recent history to serve five terms in office.” 

Craig noted other contributions such as chairing the TDC and efforts to make sure TDC money comes back to us. She has an Island Advisory group. She promotes our local economy and spends a great deal of time here…

When Donna’s name was announced, the room broke out in applause. It was all unbeknownst to Donna at first. In accepting the award, Donna said, “I was listening and looking around wondering who it would be and then said ‘Hey, that’s me! What a surprise!’” Donna assured everyone that Marco Island is where she plays and “you are stuck with me for a long time!” 

Craig, along with Dianna Dohm Executive Director of the Chamber, presented Donna with a framed aerial photograph of Marco Island. Donna commented when she was first campaigning for the commissioner’s seat, she told islanders, “’I won’t forget you and I will not play favorites.’ Marco Island gave me a chance and within a year we had a raging love affair going which exists to this day.” 

Pat Hagedorn, President of the Kiwanis Club, was also on hand bearing a gift for Donna. “We are honored to present her with a pendant and necklace because she has been a Kiwanian 20 years. She always keeps us up to date with what is happening within the county, she always volunteers and always attends all of our fundraisers. In other words, she is Donna! This pendant, when you wear it, is right next to your heart.” 

Dianna then announced the 2019 Leadership Marco graduates. She thanked Donna Niemczyk for organizing this premiere Marco Island program for the 14 professionals. Each graduate was given a plaque and a commemorative group photo of the class. 

Donna Fiala with Bonnie Woodward.

The 2019 Leadership Marco class graduates:

  • Melissa Blazier
  • Melissa Davidson
  • Justin Duran
  • David Everitt
  • Logan Jones
  • Jim Richards
  • Sally Richards
  • Dina Schleifer
  • Jessica Simon
  • Linda Turner
  • Christine Waldren
  • Cameron Woodward
  • Laurie Zoerb 

Two members of the 2018 class assist Donna in organizing the 2019 class. The co-chairs were Jacquie Strategos and Christine Smith. 

The class thanked the Chamber, particularly Donna Niemczyk saying she was the “ringleader and leader of the pack” gifting her with a beautiful palm tree necklace. 

The 2020 Board of Directors were then sworn in by Donna, and they are: 

  • Susan Ackerson
  • Nancy Carrington 
  • James Garcia
  • William Holmes
  • Jacquie Koon
  • Colleen Long
  • Betsy Novakovich
  • Rick Popoff
  • Valerie Simon
  • Sandi Sims-Ramage
  • Neil Snyder
  • Richard Sumer
  • Tom Wagor

The 2020 Executive Committee

  • President: Dr. Richard Siegel
  • President Elect/VP: Tiffany Homuth
  • Immediate Past President: Erik Condee
  • Secretary: Dan Collardey
  • Treasurer: Laura Gelman
  • Committee Chair: Alex Parker, III

Rick Siegel gave closing remarks noting 2019’s accomplishments. He reminded everyone of upcoming events and thanked the staff. “Our goal is to build on the success of 2019.” 

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