Destin Chamber Awards Outstanding Members

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Destin Chamber members celebrated the holidays and the Chamber’s most outstanding individuals and businesses Dec. 13, during the Annual Holiday & Awards Party Presented by Trustmark. Amid poinsettias, twinkling lights and Christmas trees at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center, 2022 Chamber Chairman Jennifer Gutai Comella of Hand Arendall Harrison Sale and Destin Chamber President & CEO Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP led the awards presentation.

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

“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 & Commercial Relationship Manager with Trustmark, while presenting the award.

Gieseman’s “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,” stated his nomination form.

Okaloosa Gas stresses the importance of community involvement and service, so it was a natural fit to sponsor the Ann Gibson Community Service Award. Before announcing Terry Watkins as this year’s winner, Jenni Brunson, Public Relations Specialist for Okaloosa Gas, who made the presentation shared that he has been doing great things for the community since 1963. Some of the accolades mentioned included Destin Volunteer firefighter from 1973 – 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 1992-1998; 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.

Bernard Johnson, FPL’s regional external affairs manager serving Okaloosa and Walton counties, received the Business Person of the Month Award for October.

“His name is synonymous with community service,” said Comella, as she presented the award. “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.”