The 73ed annual Oxnard Community & Business Awards was held on Thursday, August 18 at Heritage Square in Downtown Oxnard. The luncheon was a heart-warming, inspiring celebration for 10 incredible honorees who are passionate about the city and whose contributions make Oxnard a wonderful place to live, work and do business in.
The Oxnard Community & Business Awards is hosted annually by the WVCBA and made possible in 2023 by Title Sponsor Montecito Bank & Trust; Major Sponsors Agromin, Southern California Edison, and Proctor and Gamble; and Supporting Sponsors Dignity Health St. John’s Hospitals, Oxnard Ambassadors, and Ventura County Credit Union.
Nonprofit Organization of the Year – Food Share of Ventura County
Food Share has been at the forefront of tackling food insecurity in Oxnard for 45 years. Its impact on the lives of individuals and families throughout the county is immeasurable. Food Share is deeply rooted in Oxnard, both in terms of their location and service delivery. They have established a strong presence in the community, working closely with local partners, volunteers, organizations, farmers, restaurants, and grocery stores. By working together with these stakeholders, Food Share ensures the efficient utilization of resources and the delivery of fresh, nutritious food to those who need it most on any given day of the week.
Since 2020, Food Share has operated a weekly drive-thru food distribution at College Park in Oxnard. More than 800 cars drive through every Wednesday, providing hope and nourishment to local residents facing hunger. By focusing their efforts within Oxnard, Food Share has demonstrated a deep understanding of the unique challenges and needs of the community. It has resulted in a remarkable transformation in the lives of men, women, and children.
Volunteer of the Year – Ted Schneider
Ted Schneider, founding partner of Schneiders & Associates LLP law firm, a top law firm in Ventura County, dedicates his time to the youth of the community by serving on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme for over 6 years. Ted is the past Chair of the Board of Directors, having served the only 3-year term in the organization’s history.
As Chair, Ted led the nonprofit organization through a successful $5 million comprehensive campaign, in addition to securing a $3.2 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, all while navigating the Covid-19 pandemic. The donation from Ms. Scott is the largest single donation ever received in the organization’s history. Ted also secured the largest donor bequest in the Club’s history. Ted’s leadership and contributions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, helped stabilize and secure the financial future of the Clubs and enabled the organization to expand its services to serve over 10,000 kids in the community who need them most, for years to come.
Entrepreneur of the Year – Ronnie Montana
As founder of Ethos Escrow, Ronnie Montana had years of industry experience before venturing off on his own. He started as a document messenger and worked his way up to escrow assistant and then to escrow officer. His motto is “Don’t focus on the competition, focus on your clients” and it has served him well in an unpredictable real estate market. Ronnie lived in many cities growing up, but when he moved to Oxnard, he finally felt home. This is where he met his wife and his children were born. So, when he opened his business, Ronnie knew it had to be in Oxnard, the city that has given him so much.
His entire team works around the clock to ensure exceptional customer service and secure transactions. Ronnie developed a system that produces escrow closings with minimal delays and supports all parties throughout the process. Ronnie’s care for his business and clients is unmatched. He even named his business “Ethos” which means “moral character.” Through the organization One Tree Planted, Ethos Escrow has planted over 2,000 trees around the world - that's one tree for every escrow they close. Ronnie also supports his community by donating to numerous sports team fundraisers and back to school drives.
Small Business of the Year – Commercial Auto Body & Paint
Commercial Auto Body & Paint founder Jose Reveles discovered collision repair 40 years ago while in high school and opened his shop near Downtown Oxnard in 1990. Today, the business has nine full-time employees, repairs about 85 cars a month, and generates nearly $2 million in annual revenue. Customers count on receiving honest, excellent, and sometimes compassionate service. Jose carefully invests in some customers by offering payment plans when insurance won’t cover their repairs.
A first-generation immigrant, Jose uses his business to share knowledge with younger generations and teach a very valuable trade. You’ll often find local high school students receiving hands-on instruction in the shop through a Regional Operation Program and Jose’s longtime involvement with DRAGG, a nonprofit Youth Automotive Program. Jose values giving back to the community knowing that the effects can be far reaching. This community outreach has helped bolster Commercial Auto Body & Paint’s reputation which has enabled the team serve the community for more than 30 years.
Large Business of the Year – Agromin
Large Business of the Year Agromin has been in business for over 50 years and employs more than 200 people. It is California's largest organic waste recycler. More than 1 million tons of green and food waste is recycled every year at its sites throughout the state, including its largest here in Oxnard. As many of us know, California Senate Bill 1383 requires cities and counties to offer organic waste recycling in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. Agromin has taken the lead by working with authorities in Ventura County and around California to help them meet their requirements.
Agromin uses a safe, natural and sustainable process to create nutrient-rich compost and mulch. These products are then used on residential and government property, and distributed to farms. The result? Healthier crops, plants, gardens, and more. The company also generously donates tons of product to community gardens, nonprofits and schools, including Mar Vista Elementary School in Oxnard where students planted flowers, strawberries, lettuce and jalapenos. As CEO Bill Camarillo has said, “Gardening provides positive, life-long lessons for kids.”
Community Influencer of the Year – Adam Lopez
Community Influencer of the Year Adam Lopez uses his voice and personal social media to raise awareness for programs, organizations, and events that are near and dear to his heart. These include an annual community resources fair in El Rio, the American Cancer Society, Community Action of Ventura County, and many more. He has a passion for serving the underserved and most vulnerable in our community.
He also uses social media to highlight his community impact as an Oxnard Community Relations Commissioner, Community Relations Liaison for Revive Community Church, board member of numerous nonprofits, and much more. He often ends posts by encouraging others to make a difference. Through his podcast, Candid Conversation with Adam Lopez, he shines a spotlight on Oxnard and Ventura County as a whole. Adam has interviewed Mayors, County Supervisors, and community leaders. Each episode highlights real-life lessons for future leaders to continue the progress being made in places we call home.
Best Place to Work of the Year – MacValley Oil Co
For decades, MacValley Oil Co has provided essential services to agriculture, transportation, and construction companies. The Oxnard-based truck stop has more than 20 full-time employees and several part-time employees who create a fun and welcoming environment for customers, and a family-like environment for each other.
Employees believe it’s important to get to know customers on a personal level and develop a strong relationship of trust. As a 20+ year veteran at the company states, “Over the years I’ve learned more about their business and that has helped our team help them with their struggles. I’m happy our customers put their trust in us, and we can see them grow here in Ventura County.”
Employees appreciate opportunities for upward mobility and taking on additional responsibilities. Others say they are passionate about their jobs and that it’s rewarding to see their impact on other businesses that affect daily life here in Oxnard, Ventura County and beyond. As one employee says, “Now as bulk fuel delivery driver, I get to see customers at their place of work. I see how important their roles are for all of us in Oxnard. I’m happy to deliver what they need so they can move forward.”
Young Professional of the Year – Luis Hernandez
Luis Hernandez is a Senior Project Manager at Many Mansions, a non-profit affordable housing developer and services provider. An Oxnard resident, Luis combines his love for the city and a passion for serving the most vulnerable in our community. He leads numerous initiatives that improve access to affordable housing, increase economic opportunities, and create a vibrant Oxnard community. Luis oversaw the development of Ormond Beach Villas that welcomed close to 50 homeless veterans and their families. It was awarded “development of the year” by the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing. Today, he is leading the efforts on “Central Terrace” and “Aspire”, two affordable housing communities that will house over 300 people and play a crucial role in the revival of Downtown Oxnard. Luis’s creativity and commitment to promoting healthier communities produced additional recreational elements including a pocket park and one mile of bike lanes.
Affordable housing development requires grit, an innovative mindset, and intense dedication. Luis excels in all of that, as well as in the relationship building. Luis also is engaged in the community. He is an active Board Member for HOME or “Housing Opportunities Made Easier” and the Downtown Oxnard Improvement Association. Luis is passionate about his community, a role model for young professionals, and an inspiration to all who work in this field.
Distinguished Citizen of the Year – Brett Zielsdorf
“Brett Zielsdorf is the heart of Channel Islands High School,” says Principal Marianne Ramos. “He is an English teacher and Activities Director. CIHS has a phenomenal spirit and a strong sense of pride, and that has much to do with his leadership.”
Known as “Mr. Z”, many of his students have gone on to graduate from four-year universities. He even created a new “Film Analysis” class that is approved for UC credit and addresses emotional intelligence and wellness. Since it launched, hundreds of students have sign up —enough for the school to open four full sections of the class. He also coaches Channel Island’s boys and girls tennis teams. In 2017, led the boys team to the CIF finals for the first time in the school’s 51-year history, and received back-to-back Pacific View League Coach of the Year awards in 2021 and 2022.
In his off-time, Brett volunteers for Food Share and the Santa to the Sea marathon, often bringing students to help handout water, cheer the runners, and pick up trash. Through his hard work, passion, and care for the lives of his students, Mr. Z is an exceptional example of what one teacher can do to positively impact a community.
Oxnard Trophy – Oxnard College’s 2022 Men’s Soccer Team
The Oxnard Trophy recipient is chosen by the West Ventura County Business Alliance Board of Directors. The Oxnard Trophy is presented to a person, business or organization that has brought recognition to Oxnard and has bettered the community. This year it goes to Oxnard College’s 2022 Men’s Soccer Team.
In December 2022, the team won the California Community College Athletic Association championship title, its second time in seven years. The Condors completed the season with a remarkable 22-1-1 record and were undefeated in the Western State Conference.
The Men’s soccer team made an astounding comeback in the championship game against Mt. San Antonio College during a massive rainstorm. Losing by a score of one-to-zero, in the last four minutes of the game, Sophomore Odin Rosten scored two goals to lead the team to victory. Victory was even sweeter since Mt. Sac was the only team the Condors lost to during the regular season.
For their incredible effort throughout the entire season, the team was lauded at the United Soccer Coaches national convention in January. Player Odin Rosten was named National Player of the Year, and head coach Ross Greaney received the Coaching Staff of the Year award. The team’s 2022 season demonstrated their tenacity to come out on top and beat better-funded teams in order to become the best in California. For that, the community of Oxnard has much to be proud of and celebrate.