Thank you to everyone who attended the 2022 Camarillo Top Ten Awards on October 7 at Serra Center! Now in its 55th year, the annual awards program celebrates Camarillo's stars -- the people, organizations and businesses who are making a difference in the city.
Youth of the Year: Itzel Fernandez, Student
Itzel Fernandez is a compassionate, conscientious and extremely hard-working young woman. She graduated from Adolfo Camarillo High School this past June and was selected as the keynote speaker for graduation. She gave a phenomenal speech to thousands of people at the ceremony. Today, Itzel is a student at Moorpark College. She has her eyes set on transferring to a four-year university to obtain her degree and teaching credentials. Itzel possesses the work ethic necessary to serve her well in whatever she sets out to do, as she showed throughout her high school career. She maintained an impressive 3.88 cumulative GPA. She was on the ACHS cheer team for four years, serving as cheer captain her senior year. And she was also an active member of the school’s Political club, expanding her knowledge of current events as a young crusader for humanitarian causes.
Outside of academics, Itzel finds time to assist in her community. Through volunteering at a local assisted living facility, she helps others with kindness and patience when they need it most: the golden years of life. She also helps inspire the younger generation through her work at the Channel Islands YMCA. And she assists her older sister, Mia, a 2nd grade teacher, organize and decorate her classroom, while also providing curriculum-building support. Itzel’s tenacity, achievement of excellence and numerous other admirable qualities will help her throughout her life’s journey. We look forward to hearing about the many great things she will accomplish in the years to come.
Entrepreneur of the Year: Lindsey Carnett, CEO and President of Marketing Maven
Lindsey Carnett, CEO and President of Marketing Maven, gives back to Camarillo through the investment she makes in her staff and her focus on supporting other local businesses. Lindsey started Marketing Maven at age 26 with a $100 deposit in a Camarillo bank. The firm is a full-service agency that helps businesses reach the next level, whether they want to re-do their website or launch a cross-channel marketing campaign. From executing media relations at Casa Pacifica’s Wine, Food and Brew Festival to supporting career development at CSUCI, the team at Marketing Maven has helped many local businesses not only stay in business but flourish through the pandemic. Additionally, several of her staff now call Camarillo home, having moved here after working for the company for several years.
Lindsey has acted as an informal ambassador for the City of Camarillo by hosting international clients and highlighting Camarillo in her many speaking engagements and in articles that she's contributed over the last 12 years. She intentionally makes every effort to stimulate Camarillo’s economy by using local attorneys, accountants, caterers, and gifting companies. She makes reservations for her national and international clients at Camarillo-based hotels and restaurants, as well as recommends local shopping. She wants to help grow and support other small businesses in Camarillo. Lindsey serves on the boards of local nonprofits and is committed to leveraging her role as an entrepreneur to bring more innovation and revenue to the city every chance she gets.
Volunteer of the Year: Mary Fish
Mary is past president of the St. John’s Hospital Camarillo Auxiliary, which she joined in 2009. Since then, she has been an active member and advocate for the hospital. With over 5,000 lifetime volunteer hours, Mary donates her time and talents to lead her Auxiliary peers and ensure that members work together effectively to raise funds for hospital equipment and programs.
In March 2020 when the pandemic started, Auxiliary volunteers were greatly affected. For many, volunteering was a source of great joy and purpose, but they were unable to return to the hospital for more than a year. Yet through that lengthy hiatus, Mary’s leadership never faltered. She held Auxiliary Board meetings virtually, continually communicated with volunteers, and when safe, she and the Auxiliary found creative ways to fundraise while staying safe. When the COVID-19 vaccine became available, Mary was instrumental in helping the Volunteer Services Manager coordinate vaccine clinics. When volunteers returned, Mary graciously accepted to stay on as auxiliary president to help everyone adapt to a new normal. Despite COVID-19 limitations, under her leadership, the auxiliary raised and donated more than $90,000 to benefit patient care.
Mary is honorable, dedicated, and fiercely loyal. She is dedicated to serving the community and is always the first person to step up and answer a call for help.
Business of the Year: SLATE Steak, Sushi & Cocktails
Since opening in December 2018, SLATE has been committed to being involved in the Camarillo community. Their efforts really ramped up when COVID hit. SLATE participated in World Central Kitchen’s program to provide meals for hospital workers, and they delivered over 400 ready-to-cook meals to families in need through Casa Pacifica. Additionally, they gave out more than 1,000 meals for nurses, and workers at hair salons and other industries affected by COVID closures. They even opened a “grocery store” early in the pandemic: SLATE Market. By collaborating with local farmers, growers and distributors, SLATE Market was a source for fresh produce and household essentials such as eggs, milk, vegetables, and toilet paper. They even offered free delivery to seniors in Camarillo.
Post-pandemic, SLATE continues providing meals and services to our community and beyond. They have fed fire crews battling wildfires, sponsored events for nonprofits like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and they host free barbecues twice a year at various homeless shelters throughout the county. In all, the team at SLATE has provided more than one million meals to the homeless, to seniors and to families through programs at the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging and Mercy House.
Public Servant of the Year: Kelly Long, Ventura County Supervisor District 3
A resident of Camarillo, District 3 Ventura County Supervisor Kelly Long was first elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. In addition to representing central and southern portions of Camarillo, she also represents Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru, northeast Oxnard, the unincorporated cities of El Rio, Nyeland Acres, and East Lockwood Valley. Supervisor Long became Chair of the Board of Supervisors in January 2020 and was essentially the face of Ventura County for much of the pandemic and for many fire emergencies. Whether she is advocating for the environment or economic development, she is lauded for incredible problem solving and communication skills, her ability to deep dive into any project or subject matter, and her fearless leadership.
She is an experienced businesswoman with a degree in mechanical engineering and six patents. In the community, Supervisor Long was a Trustee of the Pleasant Valley School District, and has been an active supporter of multiple PTA boards, the Pleasant Valley Swim Team, Channel Islands Rowing Club, and StemYes.Org. She is a great inspiration and a fantastic representative for Ventura County.
Educator of the Year: Sarah Perry, Science Teacher at Santa Rosa Technology Magnet School
Sarah Perry is an invaluable teacher to both the Pleasant Valley School District and Santa Rosa Technology Magnet School. She is highly respected by teachers, administration, students, and parents at SRTMS, as well as within the district. First and foremost, Sarah is a master teacher. Students look forward to her science classes and alumni often share that she prepared them for college and life. Sarah is always innovating to make the curriculum relevant, accessible, and hands-on for students. In addition to teaching, Sarah is Santa Rosa’s department head for science, California Junior Scholarship Federation coordinator and peer tutoring coordinator. She’s also a member of the district’s science curriculum team that recently piloted its new curriculum. Essentially, Sarah provided the roadmap and resources to show all teachers in the district how science standards should be taught. Sarah has also incorporated a number of socio-emotional strategies in her classroom to make students feel more comfortable and accepted. Since the pandemic, this has been especially important because students have shown a need to have a safe and welcoming environment.
Outside of work, she volunteers with the Camarillo Animal shelter foster dog program. In fact, Sarah’s efforts and experiences with dog adoption and dog fostering have been showcased on a few local television programs over the years. Sarah’s impact on students and the Camarillo community is great, and she brings positive energy and joy to school each day.
Service Organization of the Year: Camarillo Old Town Association
For the past few years, a hard-working group of local business leaders has shown great dedication for the betterment of the Camarillo community. The Camarillo Old Town Association is an organization of business and property owners in the Camarillo Old Town business district, area residents and stakeholders. Their mission is to “To preserve the heart and soul of Camarillo Old Town to keep it uniquely 'Camarillan', and to promote businesses and events located in the Old Town District.” The Association strives to improve economic vitality and enhance the neighborhood's reputation as a vibrant, friendly, and clean place to attend performances, dine, shop, and invest in business opportunities and properties.
Each year, they organize great local events including the Camarillo Old Town Glow, Beer March, Wine Walk and the newly established Heritage Days. Revenue from these events help organize and fund an array of other community events that are free and open to the public, such as Friday Night Car Cruises, Boo-Fest, and the Christmas Tree Lighting. Under the leadership of Association President Christina Chastain, they also were able to honor and celebrate the Class of 2021 by showcasing banners of local graduates in Old Town. We are truly grateful for the dedication and passion the Camarillo Old Town Association has shown for the Camarillo community.
Man of the Year: Dennis Riedmiller
Beloved teacher, coach, and humanitarian Dennis Riedmiller is an icon in Camarillo. He has dedicated his life to serving the needs of students, student-athletes, young teachers, colleagues, and every school administration he’s worked for during his 30-year career in education. Dennis was named Coach of the Year three times and has been Head Coach for: Football, Track and Field, Cross County, and Boys’ and Girls’ Water Polo. When out to dinner, Dennis has been dubbed “The Mayor of Camarillo” as former players and parents want to shake his hand and give a “Hey, Coach remember when …” trip down memory lane. He has displayed endless dedication and commitment through his work with student-athletes and special education students. Recently, Dennis was the announcer for sporting events at Adolfo Camarillo High School for its Special Education and Severely Handicapped programs. He called it the most rewarding experience.
Dennis has served as a mentor to colleagues. He has guided new special education teachers and hosted weekly lunch meetings to provide new teachers with much-needed support. His altruistic endeavors extend beyond the school. He has been guardian and caregiver to three homeless and orphaned youth whom he guided, housed, and took financial responsibility for. One of those youth enlisted in the Navy, obtained his Bachelor’s degree, and is now pursuing a career in education; thus, paying it forward to another generation.
Dennis is also a loyal friend. Recently, he was at the bedside of four beloved friends as they moved on to the next realm. He spent hours with them and provided their families with the solace and strength needed during such trying times. Dennis is the person everyone needs in their life: steady, kind, consistent. On a daily basis, Dennis serves as a beacon of integrity, morality, civility, and what is right in a very turbulent world.
Woman of the Year: Lynn Jeffers, MD
Dr. Lynn Jeffers is the Chief Medical Officer of St. John’s Hospital Camarillo and St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. A Camarillo native, Dr. Jeffers will often share that when she moved out of state to pursue a medical degree, she always had one goal: To return and serve the community she loves. As Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jeffers is instrumental in rallying physicians to achieve high-quality outcomes and ensuring that staff adheres to safety standards while delivering quality medical care. However, her work goes far beyond her day-to-day duties. Dr. Jeffers has been instrumental in helping both hospitals navigate the pandemic. Day in and day out, she has provided leadership and guidance during some of the most challenging times in our community’s history, and she always does it with a smile.
In her career, Dr. Jeffers has gone above and beyond to make a positive impact. Her vast experience in plastic surgery, particularly breast reconstruction, led her to partner with St. John’s Hospitals to conceptualize and execute the Annual Breast Symposium, a community outreach program to educate women about breast cancer. Dr. Jeffers was essential in bringing together physicians from different disciplines and the St. John’s Cancer Center to form the St. John’s Integrated Breast Center. There is no challenge too big for Dr. Jeffers. She is an inspiration to many and so deserving of this award. And a fun fact: Dr. Jeffers was our first-ever Youth of the Year award winner!
Stan Daily Lifetime Achievement Award: Paul Rockenstein
Paul Rockenstein exemplifies the meaning of the Stan Daily Lifetime Achievement Award. He has volunteered, made a difference, given back to Camarillo, and has been a leader in moving this community forward. He always gives his best to his family, his community, and to his faith. Paul has been serving our community for over 45 years, and was recognized as a Camarillo Don in 2013.
In 1979, Paul was instrumental in leading the successful startup of Camarillo Hospice, Today, the hospice continues to thrive as Livingston Memorial. He was also a Board member for Camarillo Health Care District, and the Pleasant Valley Hospital Foundation, and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital. In 1995, Paul was appointed and later elected to the Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District Board. He served for over 17 years and was the fourth longest-serving board member.
Paul learned early in life that serving his church was another way to give back. He is a Eucharistic minister and lector at St. Mary Magdalen Church and a lector for Padre Serra Church. Paul also volunteers reading at funerals and helping families. Recently, after caring for his wife during her last five years of life, Paul returned to public service and volunteering. He is on the board for the Pleasant Valley Historical Society, and is very involved in supporting those who have lost a spouse or partner through his church's support program. Through his own experience, Paul believes he can be a friend and guide to help those in need of support.
Paul believes public service is a calling. That tradition continues today, with those lessons also being taught to his four children and five grandchildren.