There has never been a more important year than 2020, to recognize individuals in our community who go above and beyond to serve, support, protect, and advocate for their neigbors and community!
We are proud to announce our 2020 Award Recipients and look forward to honoring them on Friday, October 23rd from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in conjunction with our Annual Auction and Awards Ceremony. The ceremony will be performed live and can be viewed via Zoom. Simply register for the event and you will recieve a Zoom invite.
2020 Award Recipients
Educator of the Year
Dr. Karen Hall
“Dr. Karen Hall has spent the last 22 years pouring herself into public education. She has been a teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, an assistant superintendent, and for the last eight years has served as the superintendent of the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District. Under Dr. Hall’s leadership, MRH has risen up as a district centered around the quest for equity for all students. Her vision is one of dismantling the status quo and using systems-based thinking to eliminate disparities. A district-wide social justice initiative that proclaims MRHt’s mission to both acknowledge the barriers that stand in the way of equity and focus on the power of community is evidence of Dr. Hall’s success. She continues to work tirelessly to create a framework designed to ensure all teachers have the tools they need to do their own personal work around identity and racism. As the coordinator of alternative programs, I saw her ability to think strategically about how to create and sustain programs focused on serving our students who are victims of trauma, struggle academically, or just need a different path toward graduation. She is a fierce advocate for social/emotional learning and takes the time to listen to the individual student stories that shape our work. She grew and maintained partnerships with agencies dedicated to educating the whole child and organized an employee-based board for the district’s Weekend on Wheels program which delivers food to more than 70 families in the district. Dr. Hall wants the students of MRH to be well fed, well loved, well supported, and well educated. At the end of this school year Dr. Karen Hall is retiring. Her legacy will be one of social justice. She would be the first to say there is still much work to be done, but she blazed the trail, she planted the seeds. The Maplewood Richmond Heights school district is primed to be a leader in antiracist education thanks to the persistent, passionate work of Dr. Karen Hall.
Business Person of the Year
Neil Suthar has been an integral part of the Maplewood business community since purchasing Foundation Grounds over 5 years ago. He has served on the Mid County Chamber of Commerce Board, the Economic Development Committee of the Mid County Chamber and the Special Business District Tax Advisory Commission.
As a member of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee, he led initiatives to build a platform on the Chamber Website to allow members to seek help from the Chamber. Additionally, he conceptualized a database that will allow the Chamber and Cities to better recruit and serve potential and existing businesses. As a member of the SBD Commission he spearheaded a marketing campaign for the makers, artists and creatives in the district.
Perhaps most notably, is the many new and existing businesses who continue to rely on Neil for his insight, knowledge and expertise which he is always willing to share. He is well respected by city officials, Chamber leaders, and his fellow business owners for his community approach to business being collaborative rather then competitive! Neil takes challenges head on and strives for excellence and is ALWAYS goes the extra mile when it comes to economic growth in downtown Maplewood, both in conceptual thinking and action!
Citizen of the Year
I would like to bring to your attention the nomination of Rick Vilcek for one of the Mid County Chamber Awards. Rick has served the Richmond Heights Community for over 50 years.
In March of 1969, Rick started with the Richmond Heights police department as a patrol officer immediately after being discharged from the U.S. Army after finishing his tour in Vietnam.
During his tenure as a police officer, Rick was promoted to Detective Sergeant, Captain, Major, and in 2011 after 42 years working in the RHPD Rick retired as the Chief of Police. Rick wasn’t finished working for our community.
He was elected to the Richmond Heights City Council in 2012 representing District 2 and re-elected to a second four-year term in 2016.
Rick and his family have lived in Richmond Heights the entire time and he continues to do so.I believe our residents and business community appreciate the 50 years Rick Vilcek has given to our city and thank him.