Close to 300 people attended the celebration

ATASCADERO — On Saturday, April 22, Atascadero’s best-dressed guests joined together at the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce’s 100th Anniversary Awards Dinner and Gala to celebrate the city’s finest and brightest individuals helping to make Atascadero a better place. The event was held at the Pavilion on the Lake and was themed “Past, Present, Future.” The names of people in attendance were collected and will be put into the Chamber’s upcoming time capsule.

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Jr. CEO Piper Bonelli representing the future of the Chamber at the Gala. Photo by Sky’s the Limit Photos.

“You are all witnessing history here tonight,” said Chamber CEO and President Josh Cross. “All of your names will be placed in our time capsule that will be buried somewhere in Atascadero, and your names will go down in history to mark this memorable event.”

Cross honored his staff members that he has been in charge of since he started at the Chamber in 2020. And outgoing chair of the board of directors, Phil Koziel, introduced Jacque Fields as the incoming chair.

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2023’s (left to right) Senator John Laird, Citzen of the Year, Mike Zappas, 2022’s Citizen of the Year Kevin Campion, and Assemblymember Dawn Addis at Chamber Gala. Photo by Sky’s the Limit Photos.

In keeping with the night’s theme, Grigger Jones, Chamber chairman during the 1980s, spoke about the Chamber’s past, while Cross represented the present, and fourth-grader and Jr. CEO Piper Bonelli spoke as the voice of the Chamber’s future. 

Bonelli created her own bakery, Piper’s Galactic Bakery, for the Jr. CEO program and brought two boxes of her cookies. In an auction led by Emcee Jim Dantona, which included Bonelli’s cookies as well as a table side photo shoot from Jr. CEO Leland Wolfe, the packages sold to two bidders for $2,500 each, with 50 percent of the proceeds being split between Bonelli and Wolfe and the other going to future Jr. CEO scholarships.

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Mayor Heather Moreno (right) introduces Woman of Influence Kyla Skinner (left). Photo by Sky’s the Limit Photos.

Cross made a special announcement launching a new program to the crowd during his speech on the Chamber’s present. He invited Maria Garcia, the former first Latina Councilwoman for the City of Paso Robles, to the stage. 

“We’ve been talking about this for months, and Josh and I are pleased to announce that the Central Coast Hispanic Business Association is going to merge with the Atascadero Chamber,” said Garcia in her speech. “We wanted to seek ways to promote a greater diversity and inclusivity within the Chamber of Commerce and promote a platform for Hispanic-owned businesses to have a greater voice and representation.” 

The Chamber then honored Atascadero residents who have made a difference in Atascadero. Sue Hubbard was introduced as the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year. LIGHTHOUSE Atascadero was announced as Community Organization of the Year, with Donn Clickard and Lori Bagby accepting the award. 

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Incoming chair of the board of directors Jacque Fields makes bid at Chamber Gala. Photo by Sky’s the Limit Photos.

Kyla Skinner, the owner of Specs by Kyla, was awarded Woman of Influence. Larry Wysong, who could not be in attendance, earned the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

North County Business Group landed Business of the Year. And last year’s Citizen of the Year, Kevin Campion, with Senator John Laird, presented Mike Zappas as this year’s Citizen of the Year.

During the awards, the Chamber also surprised Atascadero City Manager Rachelle Rickard with a special award to say thank you for all of her dedication to the city over her years of service here. Rickard announced her retirement earlier this year.

Dinner for the Gala was catered by Cielo Restaurant, and the evening concluded with a live auction held by Auctioneer Todd Ventura and a live speed painting by artist Amy Burkman. The live and silent auctions brought in approximately $40,000 that will go towards Chamber programs like Jr. CEO, Shop Local Bonus, Workforce Development, and Get Your Business Online!.

“The 100-Year Gala was a huge success thanks to the overwhelming support from the community. Unforgettable highlights of the evening included the opening song by Julz Muya, the announcement of the Atascadero Chamber and HBA merger, the Jr. CEO speech by Piper Bonelli, and the exciting speed artist Amy Burkman,” concluded Cross.

The Chamber will continue to celebrate its 100-Year Anniversary and leave behind the history of the celebration with the upcoming burial of its time capsule. To keep up to date with the Chamber’s events visit