Destin Chamber awards outstanding members

The Destin Log

The Destin Chamber celebrated the holidays and the chamber’s most outstanding individuals and businesses during the annual Holiday and Awards Party at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center on Dec. 13.

Amid poinsettias and twinkling lights, 2022 Destin Chamber Chairman Jennifer Gutai Comella of Hand Arendall Harrison Sale and Destin Chamber President and CEO Shane A. Moody led the awards presentation.

Alan Gieseman, CEO of White-Wilson Medical Center, was named the 2022 Business Person of the Year Sponsored by Trustmark.

2022 Destin Chamber Chairman Jennifer Gutai Comella (center) of Hand Arendall Harrison Sale congratulates the award winners, including the Ann Gibson Community Service Award sponsored by Okaloosa Gas winner Terry Watkins (left) and the Business Person of the Year Award sponsored by Trustmark winner Alan Gieseman of White-Wilson Medical Center.

Gieseman has worked at White-Wilson Medical Center for 20 of the company’s 76 years. 

“His steadfast selflessness and forward-looking mindset have resulted in the strengthening of an essential healthcare organization. Each year, one in four Okaloosa County residents walk through our doors as a patient and many more as employees. All benefit from his leadership and commitment,” according to his nomination form. 

“We chose to sponsor the Business Person of the Year Award because it lines up with our core values of integrity, service, accountability, relationships and solutions,” said Christian Carlee, assistant vice president and commercial relationship manager with Trustmark, while presenting the award. 

More from the chamber:Tyler Jarvis named Destin Chamber's Business Person of the Month

Terry Watkins was the recipient of the Ann Gibson Community Service Award. Jenni Brunson, public relations specialist of Okaloosa Gas, made the presentation. 

Brunson said Watkins has been doing great things for the community since 1963. 

Some of the accolades mentioned included Destin Volunteer Fire Fighter from 1973 to 1996, serving as fire chief for 14 of those years; recipient of the Ross Marler Destin Citizenship Award in 1987; promoted to captain of the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Posse in 1989; Destin Chamber board of directors from 1992 to 1998; president of the Destin Chamber in 1995; Presidential Volunteer Service Award for more than 15,000 hours of volunteer service to the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Posse and Okaloosa County; Okaloosa Sheriff’s Posse member of the year in 2009; and National Sheriff’s Association Reserve Deputy of the Year in 2019. 

Chamber members in the community:Destin Chamber trustees provide free lunch for local first responders in memory of 911

Bernard Johnson, FPL's regional external affairs manager serving Okaloosa and Walton counties, received the Business Person of the Month Award for October. Business Person of the Month is usually presented during the Chamber’s Business Before Hours event Johnson was unable to attend. He and his company were in Southwest Florida assisting in hurricane recovery. 

“His name is synonymous with community service. He has served on probably every board for every community service organization in our area. He and his company are involved at all levels of education and business development, and he’s a great friend to Destin and to the Destin Chamber,” Comella said as she presented the award. 

Winners of the James D. Neilson Sr. Chairman's Award for Volunteer Service and Paul Woolman Ambassador of the Year Award were not able to attend the event. These awards will be presented during the chamber's Jan. 13 Business Before Hours & Annual Membership Meeting at LuLu’s Destin. 

Before closing the event, Comella recognized the chamber’s outgoing board member Dion Moniz of Hand Arendall Harrison Sale, who served from 2017 to 2022 and was chairman in 2020.