The Harris Center for the Arts was home to an evening of celebration Tuesday as the community came together for the 2024 Folsom Community Awards presented by Dignity Health, where Folsom’s business leaders and community advocates were honored for their contributions to the city during a four-hour event that showcased the community both on and off the stage.

Early this year, Choose Folsom, which has also long been known as the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, did a community-wide outreach, asking members, residents, city leaders, business owners, and more to nominate their choices for a number of prestigious awards in categories that encompassed titles such as Volunteer of the Year, Emerging Business of the Year, Family, Small and Big Businesses of the year, young professionals, and more. Tuesday, all of the top 2024 nominees were awarded on the prestigious Stage One of the Harris Center, along with a number of surprise recognitions and announcements.


Prior to raising the curtain on the evening’s presentation, attendees filled the downstairs lobby area as well as the upstairs mezzanine of the Harris Center to experience Folsom. The pre-show showcase featured foods from nearly a dozen different Folsom restaurants as well as a variety of wines, brews, and coffee from Folsom-based businesses.

All free for ticket holders, the pre-presentation showcases that are new to the awards this year appeared to be a hit with those in attendance that ranged from the general public to local business owners and leaders, as well as government leaders of the city, county, and state level. The evening began with Choose Folsom CEO Joe Gagliardi taking to the stage to welcome all the attendees. 


The event’s big winners of 2024

After acknowledging the many businesses that participated in the “experience Folsom” showcase, event sponsors, and Choose Folsom partners, Gagliardi welcomed emcee Reese Punter to the stage to begin the festivities. Punter, a well-known area realtor and a member of Folsom’s ambassador leadership committee and is a past graduate of Leadership Folsom, Punter did not disappoint throughout the night.


“We’re here to recognize the exceptional talent, creativity, and Community Spirit that makes Folsom shine brighter than a freshly polished apple at our Sutter St. Farmers Market,” said Hunter. “Tonight, we’re honoring some outstanding individuals who make Folsom the gem that it is.”


Young Professional of the Year: Devin Swartwood

The first presentation of the night was the Folsom’s Young Professional of the Year Award, sponsored by Wells Fargo. This award celebrates a young business professional who is doing great things in the community and is a role model for other young professionals. Former award recipient Megan Demmel with Perfect Dress Party and Todd Silver with Wells Fargo presented the award that went to Devin Swartwood of California State Parks.

2024 Young Professional of the Year Devin Swartwood. (Flix in Motion)

“This award recognizes Devin’s outstanding contributions to better California State Parks in our region through professional excellence and an unwavering commitment to making a positive difference,” Demmel said during the presentation. “Devin has exemplified remarkable leadership and vision, serving as an inspiration to his peers and a driving force behind initiatives that have enriched the lives of many. Devin has a Bachelor of Science degree in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Facilities Management from Sac State and has served with California State Parks for more than a decade. Through Devin’s leadership, he has single-handedly been successful in raising over $250,000 for park projects.”

Big Business of the Year: Folsom Lake Ford

The Big Business of the Year award was sponsored by Micron Technology and was the second presentation of the night. The award is given to a community partner who “excels at uniting the community and contributes to making Folsom a better place.” Folsom Lake Ford was the recipient of the award which was presented By Chris Jacobs, Vice President and General Manager of Embedded Market Segments in Micron’s Embedded Business Unit.

2024 Big Business of the Year Folsom Lake Ford (Flix in Motion)

“Folsom Lake Ford has been a cornerstone of our community since November 1988. For more than 35 years, they have provided countless job opportunities, supported local families, and stimulated growth in our region (and) have won the triple crown award for best sales, service, and customer satisfaction 8 times,” said Jacobs as Folsom Lake Ford General Manager Jon Peterson accepted the award. “They are consistently winning the President’s Award for the Top Sales in the Nation. In 2023, Folsom Lake Ford was ranked #57 dealer in sales in the entire United States. On average, they sell 350 cars a month, providing significant sales tax revenue to the City of Folsom.”

Public Service Award: Rebecca Harris of Mercy Folsom

The Public Service Award was third on the agenda. This special award was presented by Lisa Hausmann, President of Dignity Health’s Mercy Hospital of Folsom, who began by thanking everyone involved for Tuesday’s

“It is truly an honor to be here tonight representing Dignity Health as the presenting sponsor of the Folsom Community Awards,” said Hausmann. “This event holds a special place in my heart because it allows us to recognize and celebrate the incredible individuals who make Folsom such a wonderful place to live, recreate and conduct business. I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Folsom Chamber for their hard work in planning and hosting this event, along with so many other events, that truly capture the sentiment of our community.”

Hausmann then proceeded to present the Public Service Award to Rebecca Harris, who is Mercy Hospital of Folsom’s Substance Use Navigator. Harris was unable to attend the event in person, Hausmann presented and accepted on her behalf.

“I am privileged to shine a light on someone who has made a significant impact in this area. Mercy Hospital of Folsom’s Substance Use Navigator, Rebecca Harris, works tirelessly to help individuals struggling with substance abuse find their way back to a healthier and happier life.”

Hausman shared how she has received numerous letters and accounts detailing how the dedication and compassion of Harris has touched the lives of many individuals. She went on to highlight one particular account that stands out.

“One particular story that stands out to me is a picture that a former patient shared of himself skydiving with the caption ‘This is what recovery looks like for me,’ she shared. “In his letter, this patient shared that he was actively working a program, engaged in a healthy support network and re-entering the workforce off of short term disability. He closed his letter by crediting Rebecca for helping him find a sense of peace that he had never experienced before. Tonight as we celebrate community, let us remember the importance of mental health awareness and the essential role that individuals like Rebecca play in helping those in need.”

Folsom Chamber Ambassdor of the Year: Carrie Vawter-Yousfi

The next award was the 2024 Folsom Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award. This award was sponsored by Prestige Cleaning Services and presented to Carrie Vawter-Yousfi who has served on the ambassador committee for nine years. Jennifer McCready and Karen Jones presented the award.

“Carrie’s tireless commitment to serving as an ambassador for both the Folsom Chamber of Commerce and Choose Folsom exemplifies the true spirit of community engagement and collaboration,” they said. “She is a true champion of Choose Folsom businesses. In her tenure as an ambassador, she has attended hundreds of ribbon cuttings, supporting businesses when they first open their doors. She is always dependable and always willing to help where needed.

2024 Choose Folsom Ambassador of the Year Carrie Vawter-Yousfi. (Second from left.) (Flix in Motion)

Carrie shows up and volunteers for everything, whether it be a mixer, luncheon or the Folsom Pro Rodeo, you can bet that Carrie will be there helping out in some way. Tonight, as we celebrate Carrie Vawter-Yousfi’s exceptional achievements, let us also reflect on the significance of our ambassadors who shape the fabric of our community. With our dedication and leadership, we embody the very essence of what it means to be proud supporters of Folsom. Congratulations, Carrie, on this well-deserved honor, and thank you for your unwavering commitment to making Folsom a better place for all.”

Educator of the Year: Paul Doherty of Folsom High School

The prestigious Educator of the Year Award was sponsored by Folsom Lake College and presented to teacher and head coach of the varsity football team at Folsom High School, Paul Doherty. Presenters for the award were Dr. Art Pimentel, President of Folsom Lake College, and Dr. Sarah Koligian, Folsom Cordova Unified School District Superintendent.

“Tonight we have the distinct privilege of recognizing an individual whose impact extends far beyond the classroom and the playing field. Coach Doherty’s name is synonymous with excellence, dedication, and a profound commitment to the holistic development of his students both on and off the field,” said Koligian.

2024 Educator of the Year Paul Doherty, Folsom High School. (Flix in Motion)

“Through his leadership, mentorship, and unwavering support, Coach Doherty has not only guided numerous student-athletes to state championships but has also enriched our community in countless ways. Beyond the accolades and victories, Coach Doherty’s greatest triumph lies in the positive impact he has had on the lives of his students. Beyond his dedication, Randy’s vibrant personality and infectious energy make every event more fun. We are incredibly fortunate to have his support in our community. Randy’s exemplary service and unwavering commitment deserve our highest recognition and deepest appreciation.”

Family Business of the Year: FLB Entertainment Center

Sponsored by Safe Credit Union, another award Tuesday was the Family Business of the Year. This honor went to the Dreher Family of FLB Entertainment Center and was presented by Folsom Chamber of Commerce Past Board Chair Steve Heard and Alex Becerra of Safe Credit Union.

“For over four decades, the Dreher family has been an integral part of the fabric of our community, bringing joy, laughter, and unforgettable memories to countless families and friends. Since 1979, FLB Entertainment Center has been a beloved destination for entertainment, recreation, and camaraderie, serving as a gathering place for generations of Folsom residents, the Dreher family’s impact extends far beyond the walls of their establishment,” said Heard. 

Family Business of the Year FLB Entertainment and the Dreher family. (Flix in Motion)

“As proud members of our community, they have always been staunch supporters of Folsom, giving back generously to local schools, churches, and fundraisers year after year,” he continued. “Their commitment to philanthropy and community involvement embodies the spirit of unity and generosity that defines Folsom. Tonight, as we honor FLB Entertainment Center as our Family Business of the Year, we also celebrate the Dreher family’s enduring legacy of service and dedication to our community. Their contributions have not only enriched the lives of countless individuals but have also helped to strengthen the bonds that unite us as neighbors and friends.”

2024 Volunteer of the Year: Randy Boxell

The 2024 Folsom Volunteer of the Year Award was sponsored by Intel and is given to an individual who has provided exceptional service to our community. Reliability, great attitude, and enthusiasm are essential to the qualifications for this award who was presenting to Folsom’s Randy Boxell Tuesday. Debbie Juhos of Style Media and Rotary, along with Folsom Historic District Association District Executive Director Judy Collingsworth shared the honors of presenting the award. 

“In 1997, I had the honor of presenting him with the Man of the Year award, and his selfless dedication has never wavered since then,” said Juhos. “Randy’s name has become synonymous with dedication, reliability, and boundless enthusiasm in service to others. Tonight, we recognize him not only for his exceptional contributions but also for embodying the very essence of what it means to be a true community supporter.   

2024 Volunter of the Year (center) Randy Boxell. (Flix in Motion).

Throughout the years, Randy has consistently demonstrated exceptional reliability, always stepping up to the plate with a positive attitude and unwavering enthusiasm for every task at hand.   The Volunteer of the Year Award is a testament to Randy’s outstanding service and his profound impact on our community. His selfless dedication and tireless efforts serve as an inspiration to us all, reminding us of the power of kindness, generosity, and compassion.”  

Collinsworth, one of many who have worked closely with Boxell through countless events in Folsom’s District also shared her sentiments on stage 

“I met Randy in 2019 when he joined our Hometown Parade committee. Since then, he’s been a consistent presence, lending his time and energy to every event without fail. Randy’s dedication to volunteering is remarkable. Beyond his dedication, Randy’s vibrant personality and infectious energy make every event more fun. We are incredibly fortunate to have his support in our community.

Randy’s exemplary service and unwavering commitment deserve our highest recognition and deepest appreciation.”

Emerging Business of the Year: Folsom Times

The Emerging Business of the Year Award was sponsored by Folsom Ranch and is presented annually to recognize a successful start-up or new business venture that is fast-growing and utilizing strong business practices. This year, the award went to Folsom Times and its managing founders Bill Sullivan and Adam Frick and was presented by Justin Raithel from Symmetry for Health, a previous business recipient of the honor.

“It is with great excitement and anticipation that we gather here tonight to celebrate innovation, entrepreneurship, and the spirit of enterprise. Tonight, we shine a spotlight on this dynamic duo. Bill Sullivan’s journalist career has earned more than 35 professional awards. Adam Frick has more than 27 years in successful software development,” said Raithel. “These two lifetime Folsom residents joined forces to ensure Folsom would have a trusted and reliable source for news and entertainment to keep the community informed and has grown in popularity and readership by extraordinary numbers.”

2024 Emerging Business of the Year winner Folsom Times. (Flix in Motion)

“Folsom Times’ commitment to excellence, innovation, communication, and Folsom has set a new standard in local media, earning them a well-deserved place among digital media news,” Raithel continued. “Their dedication to quality, coupled with their unwavering determination to succeed, serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses alike. We applaud Folsom Times for their outstanding achievements and commend them for their bold vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and unwavering commitment to excellence.”

Legend of the Rodeo: Tom Lewis

Each year the Folsom Community Awards name a member of the community as a Legend of the Rodeo. Legends of the Folsom Pro Rodeo was conceived to recognize the exceptional dedication and unwavering commitment of individuals who have devoted countless years to the success and legacy of our beloved rodeo.  This year’s recipient and inductee into this elite class of leaders is Tom Lewis. The award was presented by fellow Folsom Rodeo Award is Folsom Pro Rodeo legends Rich Fiutko and Karen West.

“We have the privilege of honoring Tom Lewis, whose tireless behind the scenes efforts and boundless passion have left an indelible mark on the fabric of the Folsom Pro Rodeo. It is with immense pride and admiration that we gather here tonight to pay tribute to a true icon in our community” said Fiutko. “Tom’s journey with the Folsom Pro Rodeo spans years of dedication, hard work, and a steadfast commitment to preserving the rich traditions and spirit of our beloved event. From his early days as a volunteer to his leadership roles behind the scenes, Tom’s influence and impact on the rodeo have been nothing short of legendary.”

2024 Legend of the Rodeo Tom Lewis (center). (Flix in Motion)

It was noted that Lewis has done everything at the Rodeo, aside from maybe riding a bull. His contributions range from developing event layouts, permitting, equipment rental, installing temporary bleachers, banner trussels, stages and providing emergency power, lighting and sound to the entire rodeo.

“Congratulations, Tom Lewis, on this well-deserved honor, and thank you for your extraordinary contributions to the Folsom Pro Rodeo and our community as a whole,” Fiutko concluded.

Wall of Fame Award: Murray Weaver, Powerhouse Entertainment

Choose Folsom’s own Joe Gagliardi presented the 2024 Wall of Fame Award. This award recognizes an individual who has distinguished themselves by leadership, service, and dedication to the Choose Folsom and the City of Folsom. The award winners have contributed to the “greater good” and effectively made a measurable difference to their city through their efforts which. Murray Weaver of Powerhouse Entertainment was this year’s recipient.

“Being inducted into the Wall of Fame is a testament to excellence, a recognition reserved for those who have not only achieved remarkable success in their respective industries but have also made enduring contributions to the fabric of our community. Murray Weaver stands as shining examples of such achievement, and now his name will be etched into the annals of Folsom’s rich entrepreneurial history,” said Gagliardi. “As a long-time business and building owner in the historic district he is vested in the economic vitality of the district. He has worked to attract top-notch tenants into his buildings. He has always shown his dedication through serving on committees and non-profit boards. But what I appreciate most about Murray Weaver is the approach to being a partner and a problem solver. Whenever I have approached him about a concern or an opportunity he has always been extremely supportive whether it is a cattle drive, a Rodeo pre-party, rodeo entertainment, guitar artwork or most recently sponsoring a heart for the leadership program.”

2024 Wall of Fame Murray Weaver (left) of Powerhouse Entertainment. (Flix in Motion)

“He was a driving force behind Folsom Live including his eye for such talent as booking Gallagher the watermelon-smashing comedian, to his favorite selection of the one-man band,” Gagliardi continued. “But I think the best example that shows his commitment is just over 2 years ago he started the “surfrider,” a surfboard decorated golf cart that is utilized to help with parking in the Historic District on Friday and Saturday nights. Murray did this at his own expense and it still remains free to patrons. Tonight, as we celebrate his induction into the Wall of Fame Let us also celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and community stewardship that Murray embodies. His legacy serves as a beacon of inspiration for us all, reminding us of the transformative power of leadership, philanthropy, and partnership. Thank you, Murray, for your extraordinary contributions to our community’s vibrancy.”

Small Business of the Year: MTT Collective

The Small Business of the Year Award was sponsored by Elliott Homes and recognizes a small business that is successful and a leader in our community. Price Walker from Elliott Homes and Shannon Robb with Choose Folsom were the presenters of the award, which went to MTT Collective this year.

“I first met Karyss Bollen about 9 years ago. She met me at a storage unit where she stored her jewelry in between working vendor fairs. I asked her, why is your business called My Trendy Trailer? She replied, someday I will own a trailer that I can take to vendor fairs and I can sell my jewelry right from my trailer,” said Robb. “Now here we are and My Trendy Trailer has a trailer, but in addition, there have been two storefronts in the Historic District and now they are located in a 4,000 square foot prime location in the Palladio.”

2024 Small Business of the Year MTT Collective. (Flix in Motion)

“Karyss is a shining example of not just dreaming but taking action and turning goals into reality. Karyss, you are one of the most innovative, gutsiest, and passionate entrepreneurs I have ever met,” Robb said. “To all the business owners in the audience, if you want to turn dreams into reality, take notes from Karyss. My Trendy Trailer just celebrated their 10-year anniversary and has undergone a new brand, now known as MTT Collective, featuring fashion for the entire family. Congratulations to Karyss, Josh, and the entire MTT Collective team for the blood, sweat, and tears that contributed to your phenomenal success.”

2024 Folsom Pro Rodeo Grand Marshal: Brian Martell

2024 Folsom Pro Rodeo Grand Marshal: Brian Martell Carrying on with a long tradition, Tuesday’s presentations wrapped up with the naming of the 2024 Folsom Pro Rodeo Grand Marshal. Rodeo emcee Taryn Grows led this presentation with Folsom Pro Rodeo icon Rich Reynolds.

“You know how the saying goes, we saved the best for last,” Grows said. “Although I would argue that tonight’s program has been packed full of inspiring humans being acknowledged in areas of business, work, and contributions that have rivaled those as some of the greatest Folsom has ever seen. So, I will not say we have saved the best for last, but we have saved the most rowdy for last.”

Grows explained that the Folsom Pro Rodeo has been a flagship event in Folsom for over 60 years. It has been known as one of the biggest economic drivers annually, some of the best fireworks in the region. The Grand Marshal designation is given to someone who “embodies everything that is truly great about Folsom.”

“Community-minded. Time-giving. Not afraid to get their hands a little dirty. The Grand Marshal is the face of this historic event, so that person must not be afraid to be front and center. So tonight, I have the rootin’ tootinest, most yippie Kai-Yay, Handley boots-wearing, Wrangler jean-rocking, Coors Banquet drinking, Corral Club-sitting icon who will join the ranks of some of Folsom’s favorite previous Grand Marshals,” Grows continued. “Dust off your spurs and air out those chaps, because we would like to announce our 2024 Folsom Pro Rodeo Grand Marshal Brian Martell.”

2024 Rodeo Grand Marshall Brian Martell. (Flix in Motion)

Brian has served not only the chamber but the community at large in several ways. He has served as a planning commissioner, Chaired the Chamber board, is a member of the Rotary club of Folsom and been not only an avid Rodeo fan for more than 20 years but volunteered and sponsored it.

“Brian’s commitment to our rodeo community extends far beyond the arena. His passion for the sport, coupled with his genuine warmth and contagious smile, is sure to captivate the hearts and imaginations of the over 21,000 fans who will fill the stands, eager to witness the thrilling action and timeless traditions of the Folsom Pro Rodeo,” read the testament from the Folsom Pro Rodeo and Grows shared on stage. Martell then was presented with the title and the official belt buckle that goes with it as Tuesday’s crowd cheered in anticipation of the rodeo returning soon.”

Folsom’s got talent: The entertainment

Throughout Tuesday’s gala, attendees were treated to live entertainment that was procured by Folsom’s own multi-talented Sunny Mitchell. The line-up featured a collection of artists and acts that showcased some of Folsom’s best talent, from youth bands, choirs, dancers, thespians, and musicians that are currently climbing the radio charts from right here in the community.

Performances began with the well-known local band of brothers Average Royalty that were described as being like the “Beach Boys meet Green Day” by Punter as the curtain rose.

Falcon’s Eye Theatre members Maria Beretta and Graham Sobelman then performed, followed by the Folsom Lake High School Drama class that performed a segment from their recent production of Romeo and Juliet. The Arthur Murray Dancers performed as well as the Folsom Lake College Dancers, Singer-songwriter Cynthia Renee performed her current Country Music Row radio chart-climbing music. The award-winning Folsom Lake High School Choir was also amongst the hoopla of local talent that truly raised the bar on the 2024 Community Awards event.

The taste of Folsom experience

A number of Folsom area eateries participated in the pre-event reception Tuesday evening. This addition to the awards allowed vistors to get a taste of Folsom from some of its well known and newest restaurants. Those who participated included Snooks Chocolate Factory, Burma Light, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Red Hot Chili Peppers, J.Wildes, Sourdough & Company, House of Mules and Curry Pizza House.

Beverages were provided by Red Bus Brewing and Blue Wave Coffee House. Wine tastings including selections from Element 79, Gwinllan Estate Winery, Findleton Estate Winery, LaMesa Winery, Casino Mine Ranch and Mediterranean Winery.

Businesses that participated in the community showcase included Cyclebar Folsom, Zen Day Spa, Cynsational Aesthetics, The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, Mind Garden, Mayweather Boxing, The Bag Lady, First Class Carpet Care, The Colour Chemistry, Folsom Lake College.

Gagliardi concluded the night by thanking all who participated, attended and made a special call out for the entire Choose Folsom team that worked behind the scenes to plan, organize and present Tuesday’s event that was followed by a VIP after party with the Choose Folsom Team, award winners and more hosted by Back Bistro.

“This team is incredible and you need to know that they are all very dedicated and available to make sure all of you, our partners and the community continue to be better every day,” said Gagliardi as honored his staff and team of volunteers. “We are also blessed to have all of the many other volunteers who dedicate themselves to Choose Folsom.  It does not go unnoticed, so thank you to each and every one of you for contributing to making Folsom a vibrant, amazing community.”