Community First Award Winners Chosen

Community First Award Winners Chosen

Holly Vincent
Monday, March 12, 2018 12:00 AM

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The results are in! The Community First Awards Committee received approximately 75 nominations seeking to honor individuals across nine categories. Nominations were judged based on the nominees’ extraordinary commitment of time, talent or treasure to the community. There were a total of nine winners for the individual categories.

            “We are thrilled to have another outstanding group of Community First Award honorees,” stated Dr. Bill Seymour, CSCC President. “Each in their own special way exemplifies the value of always putting your community first. We look forward to honoring them at our Gala and identifying one as the Community First Person of the Year.”

            The committee met recently following a review of all the nomination materials. They voted on their top candidates for each category, as well as the one person who will be identified as the Community First Person of the Year. The Person of the Year will not be revealed until the Community First Gala on April 5.

            The categories and winners are as follows:

  • Arts:
    Connie Gatlin
    Artistic Director, Cleveland City Ballet / Writer / Storyteller, Cleveland, TN
  • Business:
    Roger Pickett
    President / Owner, MurMaid Mattress Inc., Cleveland, TN
  • Education:

Carmen Choat
            Secondary Supervisor, Meigs County High Schools, Decatur, TN

  • Healthcare:

            Dr. William (Bill) Johnson II.
            Chief Medical Officer, Tennova Healthcare, Cleveland, TN


  • Non-Profit Leadership:
               Matt Ryerson
                President and CEO, United Way, Cleveland, TN
  • Philanthropy:
    Rodney and Margo Fitzgerald

            (Rodney Fitzgerald) Retired, Dean, Cleveland State Community and former Director

            Public Information, After-School Program and Cleveland Public Education Foundation, Cleveland City Schools, Cleveland, TN
(Margot Fitzgerald) Retired, National Projects Manager, Rosetta Stone, Cleveland, TN


  • Public Service:
               Mike Bell
                Senator, Riceville, TN

    ●          Student Leadership:
                Kenzi Morgan
                Student, Sweetwater High School, Sweetwater, TN 


  • Volunteer Service:
    Kelvin Bishop
    CPA / Financial Advisor, Cleveland, TN

            This year’s event will also include a special recognition of Mayor Tom Rowland and his years of service to the Cleveland community.            

            The Community First Awards Gala is presented by Cleveland State Community College. The premier sponsor for the event is the First Tennessee Foundation and Follett Higher Education Group and SouthEast Bank are serving as partnering sponsors. It is a benefit for the CSCC Foundation Annual Campaign, and will be held on Thursday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the L. Quentin Lane Center in Cleveland. Dinner will be provided, as well as a special dinner performance by an Ensemble of The Cleveland Orchestra of Tennessee under the direction of Sarah Pearson, Conductor. Dress for the evening is black tie optional.

            To purchase a ticket or for information on corporate sponsorship, contact Cindy Dawson at (423) 614-8703 or visit the website at All proceeds from the event will go to the CSCC Foundation Capital Campaign.



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