Members and officers of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce Board. Photo by Genie Lemieux, Evanston Photographic Studios  

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The Evanston Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting Feb. 1, taking over the Peckish Pig restaurant for the purpose of passing the torch to new president James Pepa and passing out annual awards.

 Mr. Pepa, a CPA and director at Porte Brown LLC, took the outsized gavel from former president Michael Corr of First Bank and Trust. The award presentation followed.

 Unfortunately Joseph Liss, the Chamber’s businessperson of the year, could not make it to the meeting According to the Chamber program, Mr. Liss co-founded the accounting firm Brown, Kaplan and Liss in 2000. “In 2014, Brown, Kaplan and Liss was acquired by Porte Brown, LLC, where Liss currently serves as a director.”

 The Community Leadership Person of the Year Award went to Patrick Hughes, Jr., CEO and founder of Inclusion Solutions. Mr. Hughes, the founder of the Evanston Mash-Up among many other accomplishments, said, “The word ‘no’ and the word ‘can’t’ absolutely drive me crazy.”

 He then thanked friends, family and elected officials for helping him earn the Chamber award.

 “I’m not very comfortable sitting on boards and not saying anything,” he said. “So to those who served with me on one, I’m sorry.” He said he remains very invested in the Evanston community, and encouraged everyone to “please keep taking my calls” asking for help.

 The Public Service/non-profit Person of the Year Award went to Kevin Mott, a financial advisor with Edward Jones Investments. According to the Chamber program, “the list of organizations to whom he has contributed to is extensive,” including Kiwanis Club, Connections for the Homeless, Evanston Community Foundation, First Night, the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse, the NAACP and the City Commission on Homelessness.   

 “I didn’t know there were speeches,” he said. “The email came the day after the Powerball. I was at work, so clearly I hadn’t won the Powerball. This would have been a much different party… We’d all have had to Uber home,” he joked.

 “I am honestly in awe of the people in Evanston committed to make the world a better place,” said Mr. Mott. “I appreciate you so much.”