Richfield Circle of Excellence Recipients! – Awards Update
Small Business of the Year- The Lissarrague Agency
Aaron Lissarrague joined our chamber community in 2014 and has quickly risen to the top by developing business relationships and giving back to his community. As a Richfield resident, and small business owner, Aaron recognizes the positive impact he can have through participating in our community organizations. He has demonstrated a generous ability to stay informed, serve on Boards and volunteer his time- and this is no small feat as he and his wife Jenny welcomed their third child last summer. Aaron has served on the Chamber’s Board of directors for the past three years and was Board Chairman in 2018. During this time, he had the opportunity to step-up and serve on the Richfield Foundation Board. Aaron has been instrumental in connecting the Foundation with new business resources and attracting community members to attend their annual wine gala every fall. Aaron also keeps the Board informed of new development in the community and always communicates key insights regarding what is best for residents and business owners.
Business Leader of the Year- Steve Schneeberger, The Schneeberger Group, Keller Williams
The concept of the Business Leader of the Year Award is to perpetuate among Richfield Chamber of Commerce members a determination that our world is not just a profit-and-loss statement in which each person’s life is dedicated to surpassing others, but a world in which all of us are dependent upon each other to produce the best that is within us. Steve Schneeberger began his real estate career in 2002. He became inspired to enter the real estate business initially as an investor. However, after completing his license training he realized that a career in residential real estate would be exciting and rewarding. It turns out that helping people buy and sell homes has become Steve’s career calling. His areas of focus include Richfield, Bloomington, Edina and South Minneapolis. Steve relocated his office to 66th and Penn last year and has been active with our Chamber President in identifying opportunities for improvement along that corridor. Steve also hosts regular community education meetings educating residents on the process of buying and selling a home. Steve serves as the Treasurer for the Richfield Foundation and volunteers his time organizing the parade route for Richfield’s Red White and Blue Days every summer. He and his wife host a player for the MN Magicians hockey team and welcome them as one of the family. Last year, Steve and his team hosted the 14th annual Great Pumpkin Giveaway. He joined with other local businesses, ordered in hundreds of pumpkins and set up at Fairwood Park to hand out pumpkins to all who stop by. Steve is a shining example of a great business leader being a great steward of our community.
Governmental Affairs Award- Commissioner Debbie Goettel
Commissioner Goettel served 10 years as Mayor of Richfield. During that time, she spurred significant redevelopment in the downtown area and south side of the city. Her collaboration with the city council and staff also led to the city’s first comprehensive five-year plan to repave all city streets. In addition to her brick-and-mortar contributions to the city, Debbie is proud of her human rights initiatives. In 2011, she and the city passed an ordinance for partnership agreements, providing same-sex couples with the same rights as married couples. The success in Richfield paved the way for collaboration with other city mayors to pass similar partnership agreements. Debbie and her mayoral colleagues were proud to support the efforts that led to statewide equality in 2013. In January 2017, Debbie started as Hennepin County Commissioner for District 5. She came prepared with the experience needed to be a strong advocate for her suburban district. Outside of her service in public office, Debbie has been an active participant in local and regional civics. Her passion for creating a brighter future led to service on the Richfield Foundation board, the Minnesota Environmental Initiatives Task Force, the Richfield Red White and Blue Days Committee, the Metropolitan Housing Policy Board, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Urban Land Institute’s Regional Council of Mayors, and the Governor’s 2013 Local Government Aid task force. Debbie has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) and completed graduate studies on environmental sustainability at Harvard and University of Minnesota. In her professional career, she worked for international companies in the area of Sustainability, Environment, Health, and Safety. At the County Commissioner’s office, Debbie serves as the chair for the Administration, Libraries and Budget Committee. She is a member of the Child Wellbeing Taskforce, a member of Heading Home Hennepin, the vice-chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, and a contributing member to Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority, Hennepin Health and the Transportation Advisory Board. With over 15 years in public service, it is our great honor, to award the Governmental Affairs Award to Debbie Goettel for her many years of service and dedication to this community.
Sports Award- Marc Hamren, Richfield Public Schools
The Chamber recognizes that in order to create a thriving community, it takes contributions from individuals working in all genres of community engagement. The Sports award recognizes a community sports club, athlete or advocate that provides a high-quality sports environment for others. The recipient has achieved this through supporting coaches and volunteers and developing the infrastructure of the club in order to benefit members. The recipient has been committed to raising the standards of a sport, engaged with the local community, actively encouraged members to start, stay and succeed in sport, has demonstrated a commitment to the development of the members of their sport, including participants, coaches, and volunteers. It is our pleasure to honor Marc Hamren with the Chamber Sports Award. Coach Hamren has been the backbone of Richfield swimming since the Richfield West Junior High School pool was built in 1976. Over the past 40 years he has served as the pool director and Richfield High School head swim coach and built an exemplary swimming program. Marc Hamren has coached 10 state champions as well as state tournament participants in 76 out of 81 seasons (boys and girls), pool record holders, and multiple Richfield Hall of Fame swimmers over his career. In addition to bringing the Richfield Schools and Community name to nearly every state swim meet during his tenure, Coach Hamren helped lead his girls swim team to a State championship in 1980, and was named Coach of the Year. He also coached the Richfield Swim Club/Piranhas for 23 years between 1976 and 2008, and was responsible for creating and leading the Olympic Style Swim lesson program from its inception in 1989 to 2014, helping introduce and grow students into successful swimmers in this lifelong sport. In addition, Marc Hamren taught Phy Ed at Richfield Middle School from 1976 until he retired from teaching in 2014. Marc continued coaching his high school swimmers until the fall of 2018, when he made the decision to fully retire. Coach Hamren is a Richfield resident and lives just a few blocks from the Richfield School pool. As a true lifelong teacher, coach and mentor, Marc was quick to point out that the new boys coaches, who he had mentored along their way, were just recognized as section coach and assistant coaches of the year. Coach Hamren has spent his entire career devoted to Richfield and the continuous development of it’s swimming program. His incredible energy and passion have been contagious, continually drawing youth to the sport of swimming. We are fortunate to have Marc Hamren as an ambassador to the sport and honor him with the Chamber Sports Award.
Non-Profit of the Year Award- Arc’s Value Village
A non-profit serves a critical need in the community and it is so important for them to interact with other local businesses and community leaders. This award is a great way to acknowledge our local non-profits and foster an environment of giving back. A famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi comes to mind, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” With this award, we honor an organization that demonstrates every day how to treat our most vulnerable members with dignity and respect. Arc’s Value Village conducts business ethically and with sensitivity towards social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. Money generated in their local thrift stores support programs for people with disabilities through The Arc Minnesota. The Arc Minnesota promotes and protects human rights and actively supports the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the community throughout their lifetime. Not only are they a great resource in our Richfield community, their stores’ commitment to recycling makes them good leaders in sustainable living. As a proud member of the ReUSE Minnesota, more than 9 million pounds of donations are processed annually at Arc’s Value Village and avoiding landfill. All proceeds from your donations to Arc’s Value Village go right back into our community.
Chamber Legacy Award- Steve Lindgren
The Legacy Awards recognizes an individual, group, corporation, institution, or other entity’s, long standing commitment and contributions to the Richfield Chamber and outlying business community. Their support and their influence on Richfield business has been demonstrated over a substantial period of time. The recipient has demonstrated a commitment to raising the standards of business engagement with the local community, actively encouraged current members to engage, and shows a commitment to the development of future members. The recipient has also built strong relationships with schools and other community organizations in order to increase engagement and is committed to the long-term development of the chamber. Steve Lindgren is the inaugural recipient of the Chamber Legacy Award. Steve’s roots run deep in our community. Born and raised in Richfield, he graduated from Richfield High School in 1967 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota in 1971. During this time, Steve was elected to the Board of Education in Richfield in May, 1971, while a Senior at the University of Minnesota. At the time, he was the youngest school board member ever elected in Minnesota. Governance of public schools, collective bargaining, curriculum development, and seniority issues topped the long list of statewide concerns during this same period. He went on to work for the State Senate in the Minority Research Department, then as the Director of Regulatory Affairs for the Minnesota Hospital and Homes association until he was elected to the State Senate in 1981. Steve served in the Senate from January of 1981 through December of 1982. This period in Minnesota Legislative history was marked by two regular sessions and three special sessions each year. Most noteworthy of the legislative enactments was the passage of Post Secondary Enrollment Options in 1985 working with House Majority Leader Connie Levi, Senator Tom Nelson and the Administration of Governor Rudy Perpich. After the senate, Steve knew he could continue his work in the private sector, and started his own company, S.Lindgren Limited, in 1983. Clients during this period included the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Brainpower Compact. In April of 1993, Steve started the position as President of the Richfield Chamber of Commerce until August, 2012. Major projects he helped completed during this period included the Shoppes at Lyndale, Meridian Crossings, Best Buy Corporate Campus, 77th Street, Lyndale Gateway, Crosstown/35W rebuild with Lyndale WestBound Entrance, and Cedar Pointe Commons. Infrastructure improvements to the Lyndale Avenue and Penn Avenue bridges over 494 while disruptive to business were managed to minimize the short-term pain inflicted for the greater good of the metropolitan area and Richfield. The same was true of the 66th and 76th Street bridges over 35W which most would now agree have significantly enhanced the community. Membership increased significantly, and budget increased five-fold. In addition, the Richfield Tourism Promotion Board expanded activities and the chamber launched a relationship with Village Profile (first chamber in Minnesota to do so) to upgrade publications promoting the community. Relationships with the public and private educational institutions in Richfield were emphasized throughout his tenure. Steve was an expert at establishing trusting and meaningful working relationships with every City Manager and Superintendent in Richfield since 1971. He encouraged and supported a ten year upgrade to technology in the Richfield Public Schools He worked closely with the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce on a coalition in support of expanding Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport at the current location. He also worked closely with Richfield Visions, Inc. . Steve worked with Best Buy in the establishment of their foundation initiatives to support the community of Richfield with the emphasis on serving youth along with many other accomplishments during his 19 years with the Chamber.
Business of the Year Award- RBCU
RBCU has been a cornerstone to the Richfield community for over 60 years. Did you know, that it was founded by Richfield School employees? RBCU is especially proud of their commitment to member education – a commitment proven every day in our community. One of RBCU’s core commitments is to give back to the communities they serve. They do that in service and dollars every year. Last year, they increased their community impact by joining with the non-profit, Flags for Ft. Snelling. Most Minnesotans probably know someone who has served in the military. Many of you therefore may know someone who is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. What you may not know is there used to be a tradition at Fort Snelling National Cemetery of honoring those who have served by placing a small U.S. Flag at each headstone for Memorial Day. That tradition ended over thirty years ago, due to budget and other resource constraints. Fortunately, two local women, Joanne Malmstedt and Rocky Borchardt, were inspired in 2015 to re-establish the Memorial Day tradition through the formation of a small non-profit organization called Flags for Fort Snelling. RBCU joined Flags for Fort Snelling and their mission to blanket Fort Snelling in a sea of red, white, and blue to ensure Minnesota Memorial Traditions are restored and are never forgotten. They helped secure over 5,000 volunteers and over $300,000 to make sure every headstone received a flag last year. The Chamber is proud to acknowledge RBCU as a critical part of bringing our communities together in honor of the American heroes who sacrificed all for the freedom of our great country. It is success like this that makes businesses like the RBCU important pillars of Richfield and one of the many reasons they were chosen as the Richfield Circle of Excellence Business of the Year!