The Evanston Chamber of Commerce’s 88th Annual Meeting and Gala on Thursday, April 17, will honor three outstanding civic leaders who have made their mark in Evanston through their work in journalism, religion, and urban development.

For the last ten years, Mary Gavin, founder and publisher of the Evanston RoundTable, and her staff, have given Evanston readers incisive writing and reporting and in-depth local coverage of major issues impacting the community.  In a time when print journalism is facing extraordinary financial challenges from new media alternatives, the Evanston RoundTable has managed to favorably compete for readers, advertising, and influence in Evanston media market.  The chamber will honor Gavin with its Small Businessperson of the Year Award.

Father Robert Oldershaw, pastor emeritus of St. Nicholas Church, is the winner of the chamber’s Public Service/Nonprofit Award.  Over his 20 years as pastor, Father Oldershaw has led a remarkably diverse parish and brought together families and individuals from very different backgrounds to create a church that is at the forefront of social action and restorative justice.  Through the creative use of music, liturgy, the church’s splendid architecture, and participatory service, St. Nicholas Church has emerged as religious institution that addresses matters of inter-faith concern.

The chamber’s Community Leadership Award honors an individual who over their career has demonstrated an unusual ability to channel private resources and respond effectively and efficiently to make Evanston a better place.  Judith Aiello, who after 31 years, is retiring this month as City of Evanston assistant city manager, represents these qualities well.  From her public sector position, she has fostered partnerships with the private development and investment community which has resulted in a model downtown economy and neighborhood districts which today are flourishing with business and residential activity.

In addition to the awards, the chamber’s 88th Annual Meeting is an opportunity to reaffirm the mission of Evanston’s business organization, elect new board members and officers, and raise money for important Chamber programs and services.  The event, to be held at the historic Woman’s Club of Evanston, is also the chamber’s largest networking activity of the year.  Guests will mix it up friends and associates as the chamber celebrates Evanston’s finest restaurants and drinking establishments including Amphora Mediterranean Cuisine, Argo Tea, Bar Louie, BLU Sushi Lounge & Restaurant, Firehouse Grill, Foodstuffs, Globe Cafe/Indigo Lounge, HauteHouse Cuisine, Lulu’s Dim Sum and Then Sum, MJ Catering/Corner Chef, The Olive Mountain, Prairie Moon – All American Dining, Quince, Stained Glass Winebar & Bistro, That Little Mexican Cafe, The Spice House, Tommy Nevin’s Pub, Va Pensiero and Whole Foods Market.

As part of the fun, there will be competition for the best Evanston appetizer and the best Evanston drink, prepared especially by local chefs and bartenders.  Those in attendance will have the opportunity to vote for their favorites with the winners to be announced at the end of the evening.

Sponsor tables, half-tables, and individual tickets, which include a full dinner, open bar, entertainment, and other surprises, may be reserved by calling The Evanston Chamber of Commerce at 847-328-1500, x22.

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