Springfield, VA – Christine Peterson, president of the Friends of Richard Byrd Library, is a dynamic and highly motivated volunteer in the Springfield community and this year’s prestigious Herb Hunter Citizen of the Year.

Peterson was one of three award recipients at the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner on Thursday, Dec. 10, which also included the swearing in of 2016 Chamber President Karen Fountain of Flowers ‘n’ Ferns, four other board members to three-year terms, and – for the first time – music from TunedIn, a women’s barbershop quartet, and Gypsy Jazz Combo, a traditional jazz ensemble from West Springfield High School, plus a silent auction.

Others recognized by the Greater Springfield Chamber for their community dedication were Dave and Christine Heiby, owners of AutoGrip/Beltway Supply, who were presented with the Innovative Entrepreneur Award, and PFC Stephen K. Carter, one of two Fairfax County police officers assigned to the Springfield Town Center, who is this year’s Public Service Award recipient.

When Peterson joined the Friends of Richard Byrd Library in 2005, it had one annual book sale fundraiser. Since becoming president of the Friends, the organization has increased revenue growth by more than 4,000 percent during a five-year period by instituting direct selling on amazon.com, creating a fee for membership program, and through major improvements to its two yearly used book sales. In addition, Peterson has developed partnerships with local government and private sector organizations including NSF, NGA, General Dynamics and Whole Foods Market to increase cash contributions and book donations. The Friends also won grants from Discovery and ExxonMobil to hire summer interns to build the library/Friends brand, especially through social media. For all her hard work and dedication to our community, Peterson was honored with this year’s prestigious Herb Hunter Citizen of the Year award.

The Heibys were recognized for demonstrating innovation, community outreach and perseverance through economic challenges. They founded Beltway Supply Inc. in August 2006 to serve federal, state and local governments. The business model worked well until the economic downturn, sequestration and finally the 2013 government shutdown nearly put them out of business. Never ones to let adversity stop them, they retooled and teamed up with friend Gerry Cooper to import and sell AutoGrip, a self-adjusting, locking plyer. In February 2014, AutoGrip became a division of Beltway Supply and the international distributor of AutoGrip tools. Before cofounding Beltway Supply, Christine had worked for 31 years with government and private agencies to assist people with disabilities. Through the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Christine met Tomoko Taguchi at Brain Injury Services (BIS) in Springfield. Taguchi is always looking for jobs for her clients. It was a match and AutoGrip now employs three BIS clients.

Tor Bennett, the Springfield Town Center’s security director, praised PFC Carter for playing “a major role in serving the community while posted at the Springfield Town Center. He always has a contagious and happy demeanor. Stephen has met with tenants to educate them on reducing retail theft. He has also proven to be an outgoing and friendly representative to the shoppers in the center. Even with the success he has achieved he has remained humble and is a pleasure to work with. He has worked well with the Town Center’s security staff teaming up to provide the community with an enjoyable and safe place to shop, dine and enjoy an evening out. Officer Carter is extremely professional and very dedicated to serving Fairfax County and this community.”

Serving the community is in incoming Chamber President Fountain’s blood. Through her family’s business, she has been affiliated with the Chamber for more than 40 years. She credited her late mother and the late Karen Brown for leading her to where she is today.

Most of her remarks, however, centered on why businesses should be Chamber members. The answer for each business person is different and personal, she concluded. For her:

“The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce has the pulse of the community to make my business better by providing me the businesses, leaders and the community connections I need so that I can make the best decisions that will impact my business, customers and employees and still have time for my family and get a good night’s sleep. And let’s face it: we lose enough of that just running our business!”

Fountain was elected in November to fill a second three-year board term and will be assisted in setting Chamber policy by 14 other members of the board, including four others installed for three-year terms Thursday night at the Hilton Springfield:

Marc Erazo—First Virginia Community Bank

Christine Heiby—AutoGrip

Anne Loochtan—NOVA Medical Education Campus

Tom Pfeifer—Consistent Voice Communications

Board members assist the Chamber in fulfilling its mission to bring businesses together in the Greater Springfield area to develop and promote balanced economic growth and business opportunities in harmony with the objectives of the community. In 2015 the board focused on promotion of the new Springfield Town Center and advocated for bringing the FBI headquarters to the underutilized GSA warehouses in Springfield. The FBI relocation will continue to be a priority for the Chamber in 2016.

About Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit, membership-based organization supporting businesses in the Greater Springfield, Virginia area. Founded in 1957, the Chamber formulates and advocates positions critical to business, keeps members apprised of current community issues and provides numerous networking and education opportunities. For more information about the Chamber visit springfieldchamber.org.

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