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Chamber celebrates those who inspire
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LARGO – The Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Council hosted the sixth annual Inspire Awards Luncheon Aug. 12.

Out of the many who were nominated, seven individuals were honored for the difference they make in the community.

Barbara Inman was the first recipient. Inman is now the executive director of Habitat for Humanity Florida, but Robin Macar credited her with bringing Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County out of crisis during her 10 years as its CEO.

When she came on board in 2003, the Pinellas organization was serving only two families per year. Now Habitat Pinellas builds homes for more than 26 low-income families annually. Of the more than 300 homes the organization has built in its history, 200 were built during the years Inman was in leadership.

“Barbara’s leadership and passion has refined the lives of families across Pinellas County,” Macar wrote.

Next to be honored was Summer Dodge, who was chosen to head the YMCA of the Suncoast’s diabetes prevention program in 2012. Since then, the program has helped 367 participants change their lifestyles by losing 7 percent body weight and increasing physical activity to 150 minutes per week, thus decreasing their risk for diabetes by 58 percent.

“Summer has arduously worked to bring this program into the community,” wrote Sherri Joyner. “She has spent the last two years building partnerships with four county health departments, local hospital systems, primary care doctors, insurance companies and large employers to build referrals and expand the program.”

Karis Turner was honored for her work with her previous employer United Way and current affiliation, Camelot Community Care, which supports foster care and adoptions in the community.

“Awareness, donations and volunteers have all increased during her tenure,” Kathy Pabst Robshaw wrote in nominating her. “Some women work effortlessly with only the thanks of those who have been helped.”

Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert nominated Joan Byrne, director of the city of Largo’s Recreation, Parks and Arts department.

“Like the new community center, which opened three years ago, Highland (Recreation Complex) reflects Joan’s creativity and vision of what role a municipal recreation department and its facilities should play in the community,” Schubert wrote.

Byrne also is focused on addressing childhood obesity, creating environments that encourage physical activity.

Gretchen Gallagher was honored for founding Women Working Together for Animals, a group that helps raise money for SPCA Tampa Bay. Since 2010, the group has grown to 100 members and has helped fund several improvements for the SPCA.

“By recognizing the community need, thinking outside of the box and bringing together like-minded, influential women, Gretchen is an inspiration to our community,” nominator Samantha Fenger wrote.

Marty Lanahan, who oversees banking operations for Regions Bank’s west Florida area, including 120 full-service offices, was honored for the heartfelt enthusiasm she gives her teams.

“She finds the positive in everything and encourages employees to be themselves and focus on their strengths to be successful,” wrote Debra Jones.

Paul Gibson was honored not only for being an outstanding employee and sprinkler service technician at Piper Fire Protection, but for overcoming great challenges to be a success, including a prison sentence in his youth.

Gibson tested out of two years of apprenticeship school, and this year competed against hundreds of trade school graduates in the Associated Builders and Contractors’s national competittion. He won a gold medal and was then featured on the cover of the current Fire Protection Contractor magazine.

“Paul’s ability to overcome challenges and achieve success has brought pride and inspiration to many,” his boss Chris Johnson wrote in nominating him.
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