Chesapeake First Citizen Award Banquet to honor Roland Davis

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davis1By JOHN DOWNS, SR

The 45th edition of the Chesapeake Rotary Club’s annual First Citizen Award banquet will be unlike any of its 44 predecessors.  As a premier signature event during the city’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, the banquet on Thursday, September 19, 2013 will be a triple header gala honoring dedicated community service in the Chesapeake area. Buoyed by the twelve month long birthday bash, this year’s banquet will first celebrate all the previous First Citizen Award honorees. Most are expected to be in attendance thus making this the single largest gathering of Chesapeake’s most distinguished city fathers and mothers, community and political leaders, and other movers and shakers. Each of the 44 previous honorees has made a substantial contribution in guiding the Chesapeake community to soaring heights during its first 50 years as a city, and all have played a significant part in forging Chesapeake’s solid reputation as a city with a high standard of living and an unending compassion for its less fortunate citizens.

The second leg of the triple header will feature the return of an Indian River native son who has brought the city of Chesapeake recognition through his distinguished and extensive career of community service and charitable leadership, his election to state office, and as founder of a respected and productive law practice in Northern Virginia. Former Virginia Attorney General and Chesapeake native Mark Earley will deliver the keynote address.  Earley is no stranger to active community service. For nine years beginning in 2002, he served as President and CEO of Prison Fellowship, a $41 million 501(c)3 organization which is the largest Christian outreach program of its type in the United States. While serving as Virginia’s Attorney General, he actively recruited and trained more than 4,000 dedicated volunteers to work with at-risk children in the Commonwealth. As a young man in his hometown, he became active in Chesapeake politics and capably represented Chesapeake in the Virginia Senate from 1988 to 1997. In 1997, he ran for statewide office and was elected Virginia’s Attorney General. Before receiving his law degree from the College of William and Mary Law School, Earley graduated from Chesapeake’s Indian River High School in 1972.

During the banquet, Earley will appropriately center his remarks on the importance of community service. “I’m looking forward to coming back to my hometown,” Earley remarked from his law offices in Leesburg, Virginia, “It a special privilege to speak during Chesapeake’s 50th anniversary. The Chesapeake Rotary Club is a great organization with a great motto: Service above Self. I am honored that they chose me for the keynote address.”

The third highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the 2013 First Citizen Award to Roland Davis, immediate past president of the Chesapeake Rotary Club and CEO of Sajomach Business Services. Davis has an extensive and impressive resume of community service activities. The Rotary Club’s media release details the highlights of Davis’ remarkable record. It reads:

“…..He is a member of the Chesapeake Economic Development Authority, Treasurer of the Chesapeake Regional Health Foundation, and Chairman of the Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School Foundation. Additionally, he serves on the board of directors of the Chesapeake Division of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Chesapeake Education Foundation Blue Ribbon Committee, and Chesapeake Boys and Girls Club. Davis is the Chairman and Co-founder of the Chesapeake Virginia Wine Festival, which has distributed over $500,000 to various Chesapeake charities in the past three years. Davis has been active with the Chesapeake Regional Medical Center Bra-Ha-Ha Awards Show and Auction which annually provides hundreds of free mammograms for uninsured women.”

Davis has been previously honored with numerous community service awards including the 2012 Chesapeake Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award and as the 2011 Chesapeake Rotarian of the Year.

Former Attorney General Mark Earley to be keynote speaker

Former Attorney General Mark Earley to be keynote speaker

“To be named the First Citizen of Chesapeake is beyond my comprehension,” Davis says with sincere gratitude. “Having all the former First Citizens elect me to share this honor with them is truly something that I will cherish forever. I cannot express enough my appreciation to all the mentors, friends, family, and volunteers who believed in me. Chesapeake is an extraordinary city, and on our 50th Anniversary, I am excited to be in a position to illuminate the city and all of our great charities.”

Davis recently added to his extensive list of honors and awards when he was named Chair of VISTAGE, a private advisory board for CEO’s, executives, and business owners.

Ray Conner is Chesapeake’s Commissioner of the Revenue and a longtime member of the Chesapeake Rotary Club. “Roland Davis certainly ranks among the most deserving recipients of the First Citizen Award,” Conner said.   “He has done so much for the Chesapeake community. His is the co-founder of the Chesapeake Wine Festival which alone has raised over ½ million dollars for some very worthy charities. I think it’s especially appropriate that we honor this dedicated public servant during this special time in 50th year of Chesapeake’s history.”

As for the September 19th banquet, Conner urges everyone to get their tickets as early as possible.  “It’s going to be a very special evening with so many of the previous First Citizens in attendance and the exciting keynote address by Mark Earley. I’d hate to see anyone miss out on this once in a lifetime gathering and the opportunity to personally meet and greet so many of the distinguished individuals who have contributed so greatly to our community. Tickets are going very quickly. It’s sure to be a sellout.”

The Chesapeake Conference Center in the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake will be the site of the banquet which will begin at 7:00 pm.  Individual tickets and special group sales can be made on-line at www.chesapeakefirstcitizen.com or by calling (757) 546-4150. Proceeds from ticket sales will support the many worthwhile community service projects of the Chesapeake Rotary Club including Paint Your Heart Out Chesapeake, the Chesapeake Wine Festival, the Chesapeake Rotary Christmas Parade, and the Coats for Kids Project. The Rotary Club also awards educational scholarships to deserving Chesapeake students.

This group photo of First Citizens was taken on 9-16-2010.  Seated on the front row (L to R):  Benson (1967); Montero (1991);  Hart (2000); Blevins (1987);  Conner (2010); Bray  (2009); Bernard (1998); Ripley (1978); Grissom (1990). Standing (Back row L to R): Nichols (2008); Reece (1997); Ward (2004);  Brown (2007); Stalnaker (2005); Forbes (2006); Newhart (1971); Bateman (1995); Buckley (1986); Bagley (1985).

This group photo of First Citizens was taken on 9-16-2010. Seated on the front row (L to R): Benson (1967); Montero (1991); Hart (2000); Blevins (1987); Conner (2010); Bray (2009); Bernard (1998); Ripley (1978); Grissom (1990).
Standing (Back row L to R): Nichols (2008); Reece (1997); Ward (2004); Brown (2007); Stalnaker (2005); Forbes (2006); Newhart (1971); Bateman (1995); Buckley (1986); Bagley (1985).

Past winners of First Citizens

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