The gala was seeped in Hispanic culture and hosted at Rava Wines

ATASCADERO — The 101st Atascadero Chamber Annual Awards Dinner and Gala moved to a new location this year. On Saturday, April 20, starting at 5 p.m., 400 members of the community dressed in their finest and headed to Rava Wines in Paso Robles to celebrate everything Atascadero and its chamber have to offer the community.

“Welcome to the 2024 Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Gala. Thanks for being here,” said emcee of the evening and president and CEO of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Jim Dantona to kick off the event.

The president and CEO of W.A.C.E. (Western Association of Chamber Executives), Glenn Morris, was also in attendance to brag about the Atascadero Chamber taking home a total of four awards at the W.A.C.E. awards ceremony a few months ago, including Top Chamber Program, Best Chamber Website, Best Chamber Video, and second place E-Newsletter.


“At last year’s Gala, you may remember we were proud to announce that the Hispanic Business Association unified with our chamber,” stated Atascadero Chamber President and CEO Josh Cross. “At that time, they had dropped down to just two members, and I’m proud to share that they have over 50 members today under the leadership of Maria Garcia. And this unification is the inspiration for tonight’s theme.”

During the gala there were dance performances that played into the Hispanic theme of the night from Folklorico de Luna and Liliana Studios, while dinner was catered by Cielo Ristorante.

Outgoing Atascadero Chamber Chair Jaque Fields also handed her spot over to Raechelle Bowley during the event.

“The work we have done in 2023 is no small feat, and I am so grateful to be in the presence of people that have shown up and donated their time and energy, passion and creativity in making the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce more than I could have ever imagined when I started this organization five years ago,” stated Fields. 

The main event was celebrating the humans of Atascadero who make the city what it is. There was even the addition of a sixth award, and this year, most of the interviews with people who nominated the award winners and acceptance speeches were filmed at Atascadero Chamber’s BridgeWorks and shown on a large screen to the crowd.

Wendy Lewis, CEO and president of the El Camino Homeless Organization, was awarded this year’s Woman of Influence. Community Organization of the Year went to ALF Food Pantry, which was formerly Atascadero Loaves and Fishes. The Pottery Atascadero, owned by Alecia Teague, was awarded Business of the Year. Hispanic Business of the Year (the new award this year) went to La Parrilla restaurant.

Doug Filipponi, who took home the Lifetime Achievement Award, was also the auctioneer for the evening’s live auction, rattling off the bids from the crowd with ease. A silent auction was also held.

The evening concluded with Jerry Tanimoto, beloved former Atascadero High School teacher and local volunteer extraordinaire, being awarded the title of 2024 Citizen of the Year.

“Congratulations, Jerry and all the awardees tonight, for all the great things you’ve done for our community,” concluded Dantona. 

We’ll see you next year at the 102nd Atascadero Chamber Annual Awards Dinner and Gala.

The Christian Motorcycle Association was also in attendance and volunteered to do all of the cleanup for the night.

Featured Image: Citizen of the Year Jerry Tanimoto (left) accepts his award from Atascadero Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Josh Cross at the 101st Atascadero Chamber Annual Awards Dinner and Gala. Photo by HiFly Filmers Photo and Video Productions.