Writer Joseph J. Airdo

Photography Courtesy of Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]cott Zychowski enjoys hearing the personal stories that are tied to each piece of jewelry that he touches as part of his work at Andrew Z Diamonds and Fine Jewelry.

It is that level of commitment and investment to the community that has earned Zychowski the title of 2019 Business Person of the Year.

Zychowski was among several business leaders in the community who were honored during Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce’s 16th Annual Business Awards Ceremony last month. The winter gala, held at the Anthem Golf and Country Club, was a black-tie optional event with all the trappings of a Hollywood awards night.

Attendees enjoyed a cocktail hour featuring champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a live jazz ensemble followed by a three-course dinner. After all of the award winners were announced, guests danced the night away to the beats of Anthem’s DJ Hybrid Thirty-3.

The Business Person of the Year award recognizes successful business leadership and outstanding involvement among Anthem area businesses.

Zychowski was born and raised on the east coast. After attending college at Montclair State University, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management.

Today, Zychowski lives in Anthem with his wife Jessi and their two daughters, joining his parents at their full-service jewelry store Andrew Z Diamonds and Fine Jewelry.

“I was so honored to even be nominated for 2019 Business Person of the Year,” Zychowski says. “My father Andrew Zychowski won this very award in 2010. So, needless to say, it was a very humbling experience to receive it as well. Our community of Anthem has been so supportive of our family business over the years that I plan on keeping the legacy going strong for a very, very long time.”

During the ceremony, Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce also awarded Foothills Food Bank as Nonprofit of the Year, recognizing the valuable, mission-driven contributions it makes through service and leadership.

“We are very honored to have received this award,” says Pam DiPietro, executive director of Foothills Food Bank. “It says to us that the chamber members have trust in what we do—which is to provide food, referral information and financial assistance to individuals and families in the Anthem area.”

Through the generosity of individuals, churches, schools, business groups and civic groups in the Valley, Foothills Food Bank helps to provide for those in need. Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce also helps the nonprofit organization with donations throughout the year.

“The face of hunger has changed and food insecurity affects every walk of life,” DiPietro adds. “Your neighbor may be hurting and in need. Now is the time to donate to the Foothills Food Bank, help those in need and reduce your Arizona tax bill with a tax credit.”

Meanwhile, Plant Bar AZ received the Commercial Design award, recognizing its excellence in commercial design to transform an Anthem area commercial space and enhance the client experience.

Amped Coffee Co. received the Economic Impact award, recognizing its significant contribution to the economic vitality of the Anthem area through community investment, job creation, industry growth and business leadership.

Work Hard Play Hard Marketing’s Manny Chazan, who received the Community Impact award during the ceremony, says that being recognized by the Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce has been a tremendous honor. He values what the organization does for both his company and the community in general.

“Being an active member of the Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce opens great opportunities for my company,” Chazan says. “It has been a great way to meet other small business owners and make a difference in our great community.”

The Community Impact award recognizes a business or individual who has shown active community involvement, volunteerism and made a positive impact on Anthem area communities.

All Western Mortgage senior mortgage advisor Chris Gonzales was also nominated for the Community Impact award but ultimately walked away with Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership in Action award.

The award recognizes his demonstrated leadership in action among Anthem Area Leadership Academy—a 12-month leadership development program that empowers aspiring leaders with the tools, experiences and networks necessary to address local and regional challenges. The program also helps business leaders make a sustainable impact on social, community and economic development.

Gonzalez describes the experience of winning the award as humbling.

“All who were nominated do great things in the community and with the chamber,” says Gonzales, noting that his wife Jill also deserves recognition for always cheering him on and supporting him. “I am proud to be a part the Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce and to be surrounded by some great people who care so much about the community.”

Realtor Lisa Halman, who received Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador of the Year award, agrees.

“It is a blessing to live and work in a community with such talented and caring people,” Halman says. “I am honored to have received the Ambassador of the Year award and look forward to continuing to serve our community.”

Sawana Grimmett of The Salt Spa, who received the Top Gun award, calls Anthem so much more than her home. It is where she bought her first house with her husband, brought both of her sons home to after they were born, built her business from absolutely nothing and made her closest friends who she now considers to be her family.

“Supporting the business community and its continued growth and success is incredibly important to me,” Grimmett says. “I love my fellow business owners and am so appreciative for their support as well. I see no greater legacy that I can leave my children than to do my part to ensure our town continues to thrive for years to come.”

Speaking of legacy, V.I.P. Mortgage Inc. senior vice president Eric Kilstrom received Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce’s newest honor—the Living Legacy award.

The Living Legacy award recognizes deserving members who have demonstrated such vision, commitment, sacrifice and made such a significant community impact that their legacies will continue to live on in the lives of those they have touched along the way.

“It was an absolute honor to receive the first-ever Living Legacy Award from the Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce,” Kilstrom says. “I was very surprised and glad I was surrounded by some amazing people to share in the moment. Anthem is a special place and I am forever grateful to the opportunities it presented to me.

“But let’s be honest—the best thing about getting a Living Legacy award is my friends need to now address me simply as ‘Legend.’ The humility only lasted a few days.”