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Islands garner high praise at 2011 Chrysalis Awards

By Staff | May 25, 2011

The 2011 Chrysalis Award winners, honored last week by the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce at the second annual Celebration of Business & Tourism Awards Luncheon and Trade Show.

During last week’s second annual Celebration of Business & Tourism Awards Luncheon and Trade Show, sponsored by the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, Inc., eight local individuals and businesses — including three winners with island ties — were honored.

During the prestigious event, staged at Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers on May 19, Kathleen Hoover from the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum was honored for her work in Sales & Marketing.

“Receiving the Chrysalis Award was a career highlight, especially because it involved peer recognition,” Hoover said on Tuesday. “Tourism mentoring relationships with the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, local chambers of commerce and the Southwest Florida Attractions Association as well as the scientific mentoring provided by museum volunteers and the museum’s director/curator, Dr. José H. Leal made it possible for me to make the transition from a life-long career in healthcare marketing and strategic planning to the tourism industry.”

According to Hoover, she was nominated for the award by Dru Anne Doyle of Ocean’s Reach Condominiums. After attending a VCB workshop, Hoover and her husband designed a shell cleaning station for Ocean’s Reach, providing information on how to find, clean and transport shells. She also collaborated on a video posted on the condo’s website.

And winning the award means more than just a personal accomplishment, Hoover noted.

Pictured with Chrysalis Award winner Kathleen Hoover, second from right, is sister-in-law Jennifer Beasley, her husband, Warren, and their oldest daughter, Kara Winton.

“It was an honor not just for me but for the Shell Museum, too. Standing on the stage looking down at the beautiful encased butterfly we were presented, I couldn’t help but think of the incredible transition the museum has made over the last 15 years, with the highlight of accreditation by the American Association of Museums in 2010, an honor bestowed on less than 800 of the country’s 17,500 Museums. Enhanced media relationships and communication with the island community and visitors or those thinking about spending time in Lee County and partnering with other tourism related businesses has helped the museum continue to grow in spite of the challenges of the economic downturn. It’s a joy to assist with increasing the number of visitors to the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. This year’s strong Sanibel-Captiva award representation was exciting to see.”

In addition, BIG Arts brought home the award for Cultural Achievement.

“It is a great honor to receive this recognition,” said Lee Ellen Harder, Executive Director at BIG Arts. “The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and the VCB were looking to recognize the value of teamwork involved in enhancing local destinations, non-profits and area businesses. BIG Arts’ success is largely due to the teamwork of our 300-plus volunteers, our dedicated staff, generous sponsors, members, and other community supporters. Each year, we collaborate with other organizations to present mutually-beneficial programs to enrich community life. We have partnered with FGCU, the Alliance for the Arts, SWFL Symphony and the Gulf Coast Symphony, Friends of J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling, the SCCF, the Sanibel Sea School and the Sanibel & Captiva Chamber of Commerce, to name a few, to plan events and programs to further a cause, bring the community together, and educate.”

Also, Ron Riley from Caloosa Catch & Release was given the Chrysalis Awards for Sports MVP.

“I’m very proud of the honor,” said Riley, who each year organizes and presents the Caloosa Catch & Release Tournament — to be held at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva this June 9-12 — and The City of Palms Basketball Classic. “This really puts a focus on and attention to the great work being done. I’ve been around a long time but never won any awards. It’s kind of like a bonus, recognizing the events that help raise funds for some great organizations in Southwest Florida.

Other honorees celebrated for their positive impact on the local community included:

• Business Development — Miromar Outlets

• Eco-Innovation — Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa

• Education — HSA Engineers & Scientists

In addition, Dan Baggot of Southwest Florida Distributing, Publishing & Mailing, and Colleen DePasquale of Courtyard by Marriott were honored with Junonia Awards.

The 64 nominees were judged on innovation in their respective category, how they have distinguished themselves in the community, the results of their efforts to promote the destination, their contributions to business and tourism partnerships for the overall benefit of the county, and their work to foster growth and sustainability.

The VCB Junonia Award was created in 2006 to recognize individuals in tourism who have demonstrated unique capabilities, leadership, commitment, and dedication throughout the local tourism community.

“Dan Baggot has been involved with this tourism community for over a quarter of a century and his tireless advocacy in support of tourism growth is infamous,” stated VCB Executive Director Tamara Pigott.

Regarding Colleen DePasquale, this year’s other Junonia Award recipient, Pigott commented, “Colleen is a true tourism advocate, providing leadership, community involvement, and an engaging, infectious drive to all she does in support of tourism.

The trade show and luncheon celebrated the value of tourism and the community teamwork involved in maintaining and enhancing tourism as a major economic engine for the county, as that industry contributes $2.5 billion to the local economy and employs nearly one in five Lee County residents. It was held to commemorate National Travel and Tourism Week as part of the VCB’s year-round Team Tourism informational program to strengthen destination teamwork.