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Chamber exec lauded

CHAMBER president and CEO Deborah Bonk. (Vaughan Today file photo)

Vaughan’s Chamber of Commerce has an award-winning leader at its helm.

The Chamber of Commerce Executives of Canada (CCEC) named Deborah Bonk its Executive of the Year in the 100,000-plus-population category at the national organization’s recent conference in Quebec City.

Bonk, the Vaughan Chamber’s president and CEO, says she was thrilled, humbled and left speechless by the honour.

“I love what I do and I think that’s what shows,” Bonk said last week. “And last year was an incredible year for the Chamber.”

The annual CCEC awards are handed out in recognition of outstanding performance by chamber of commerce executives. This year, Bonk was nominated by a fellow executive, Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Diana Dodge.

“I got to know Deborah and to see her in action and to see how well organized she was and how well she worked with the board,” said Dodge, who had served four years on the Vaughan Chamber’s board before her move to Brockville.

“That was very inspiring,” she added. “For all the boards that I’ve sat on and I’ve watched other executive directors work, I haven’t seen anyone work that well with a board.”

Since Bonk’s arrival at the Vaughan Chamber in 2005, it has undertaken a comprehensive strategic planning process, shored up its financial position and strengthened relationships with community and government organizations, the award’s judges pointed out.

But that’s not all.

“I think that the biggest success is our growth,” she said. During her tenure, membership in the Vaughan Chamber has swelled 30 percent.

Even before winning the national award, Bonk’s leadership was not confined solely to the city above.

When Dodge and her family made the move home to Brockville, 300-plus kilometres east along the 401, she was offered the chance to lead her local chamber.

“After watching Deborah and seeing the potential for growth and for advancement of a chamber, I was excited to look at the role here as something that I could affect change with,” Dodge said. “I probably would not have considered this had I not met Deborah.”

Not content to rest on her laurels, Bonk said she’s busy doing more of what won her the award, and that includes the announcement of something significant in the weeks ahead.

“For anyone that’s met Deborah, she leaves a lasting impression,” Dodge said. “She’s a vibrant, outgoing personality: a great representation for Vaughan and for business in Vaughan.”

All in a day’s work, Bonk said.

“I have passion for what I do,” she said. “And when you have passion, it doesn’t feel like work.”

Vaughan Today
In print: October 24, 2008, page 5
Online: October 23, 2008 [link]