- Communication Builds Our Community

Chamber Recognizing Community Leaders

Annual Gala May 7


Last updated 5/10/2019 at 12:24am

Three individuals, two businesses and one service organization will be honored Thursday, May 7 at the annual fundraising gala hosted by the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council.

The event theme is "Feeling Groovy," and many attendees are expected to dress in costumes from the 1970s. The event is scheduled from 6-9 p.m. in the Lake Ashton Banquet Hall. Tickets are $75 for individuals and $1,000 for a table of 8. Other sponsorship levels are available will additional benefits.

The highlight of the evening is naming of the 2018 Citizen of the Year. The selection will be kept under wraps until the end of the program that evening.

The Chamber has announced other award winners, including Capo Security and Grow Healthy, this year's winners of the Carl F. Durso Excellence in Business Award. Durso was a longtime Lake Wales supporter and Chamber executive director. Criteria for the award includes length of time in the community, number of employees, growth or expansion of the business over time, capital investment, company's community involvement and contributions including fundraising assistance, local and statewide professional and/or civic leadership by key management and unique qualities – creativity of the business.

Capo Security was formed in 2010 by Giovanni Fazzini, who started the business out of his home, knocking on doors to offer home security alarms. Capo now offers a wide range of home alarm security systems, medical alert, business surveillance and monitoring solutions. Fazzini serves on the Chamber Board and is immediate past president of Rotary on the Ridge. He is involved in youth sports and other community volunteer activities.

Grow Healthy harvests marijuana to supply the growing medical cannabis oil industry in Florida. The company operates from an 185,000 square foot former mattress factory on SR 60 west of Lake Wales. This year it opened its corporate headquarters in downtown Lake Wales and announced plans to open 30 medial marijuana dispensaries throughout Florida. Grow Health is a member of the Lake Wales Chamber President's Circle and the Economic Development Council.

The Lake Wales Family Literacy Academy is being recognized as the Community Service Organization of the Year. The Family Literacy Academy was founded in 2005 with a grant from the Barbara Bush Family Literacy Foundation. In 14 years the Academy has served more than 1,000 adults and children through day and evening programs that help families with reading and math so they can better support their children in school. The whole family comes together for a meal, tutoring and educational activities for children. The academy has helped 95 parents obtain their GEDs (high school equivalency diplomas) and many have gone for further education, thanks to a partnership with Polk State College.

Andy Oguntola, director of the Polk State College J.D. Alexander Center, will receive the Community Leadership Award and Lake Wales City Manager Ken Fields will be recognized as with the Public Servant Award.

Orguntola joined Polk in November 2017 after serving as an adjunct professor and director of admissions and registration at Valencia College. He received his bachelor's degree in pre-law, a master's in business administration and a doctorate in higher education leadership.

Orguntola is a co-founder of the Lake Wales Seahawks youth football team and a recent graduate of Leadership Lake Wales. He serves on the boards of Lake Wales Main Street, the Lake Wales Arts Council and the Lake Wales Family Literacy Academy and as a Lake Wales Charter School trustee and member of the McLaughlin Middle School Advisory Council. He also serves as vice chair of the Chamber and chair of the Economic Development Commission.

Fields began as Lake Wales city manager in 2013 and has lived and worked in Florida for close to 20 years. He has previously served as manager or assistant manager for the City of Hollywood, Islamorada, Village of Islands in the Florida Keys, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. He began his career in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he served as Director of Budget and Research and Chief Labor Negotiator. He also worked in the private sector as a Management Consultant to state and local governments based in Washington DC and as the business administrator for a software research institute associated with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He is a member of both the International City/County Management Association and the Florida City and County Management Association. He holds a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering from Cornell University and a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Gala tickets are available by calling the Chamber at 863-676-3445 or online at


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2022