Lauding Leaders 5

Chamber Applauds Community Service & Spirit

For 50+ years, the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce has honored individuals and organizations that better the Conejo Valley.

“The winners embrace everything that defines the Conejo Valley: they are collaborative, innovative, superbly talented individuals, who carry great brand names with pride and a strategic vision for the future,” says Chamber President and CEO, Jill Lederer. “All have made an indelible mark in the best possible ways. We thank them.”

Man of the Year – 
Ray Taylor, Westlake Village City Manager

A Conejo resident since 1993, when he became City Manager, Ray Taylor has witnessed Westlake Village blossom into a truly vibrant community. In his role as City Manager, Taylor provides management and oversight of all administrative and operational functions of the city, carrying out the policies of the City Council. He also coordinates major city projects and serves as a representative of the city before other government bodies.

Highlights of Taylor’s sterling career include planning for the commercial development of the Westlake North area, vital to the city’s fiscal health; planning/creation of the Civic Center, including City Hall and the Library; and a new park near Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Beyond the construction projects, Taylor is pleased with the ongoing expansion of community and cultural programs initiated since his arrival.

Of his many accomplishments, he is most proud of “working and collaborating with our City Council, staff and residents in preserving and enhancing the exceptionally high quality of life that our community is known for.

“I feel very fortunate and lucky indeed to have served Westlake Village alongside people who care deeply about our community,” he says.

Planning for the future, Taylor drafted the city’s 2025 Strategic Plan, which states, “In 2025, Westlake Village will look and feel much like it does today from a ‘physical’ perspective with its beautiful, natural setting and well-maintained streets, landscaping and infrastructure.”

In time for its 45th birthday in 2025, as written in the plan, Westlake Village is expected to “continue to mature and age gracefully.” The city’s small-town charm will be preserved through ongoing attention to open space, parks and gathering places; outstanding public services, programs, capital projects; and “unequivocal support” of local schools.

Westlake Village is recognized as one of the best run, most stable cities in the United States, and Taylor has guided the city to prominence in the national landscape, while balancing the needs of local residents and businesses. A man of vision, passion and commitment, Taylor, on the eve of his 25th anniversary with the city, is indeed the “Man of the Year” and, hopefully, for many more to come.

Volunteer of the Year – Felix Wang, General Manager of Best Western Plus Thousand Oaks Inn

Felix Wang is a third-generation innkeeper, but, apart from his life as a hotelier, he has three passions: community, eradicating extreme poverty and helping the people of Taiwan, his family’s homeland.

“Youth is a common denominator in community and in poverty everywhere, which is most of my focus in work with Rotary, chambers of commerce, groups like Taiwanese American Professionals and California Lutheran University,” says Wang.

He recalls that he began volunteering in high school, but notes his desire to give back really took hold in college, when he joined Habitat for Humanity and the Alpha Phi Omega community service group. Today, Wang gives freely of his time in support of many organizations because he believes volunteering for any cause or issue is worthwhile and important. Whether it’s support of the homeless, veterans, animals, the arts or anything else, he advises:

“Find your passion and do what you can to help those around you.”

“We don’t live in a bubble,” explains Wang. “Our quality of life and success of our economy are tied directly to the success and strength of our community—locally and globally—and it all begins with our youth and education. I believe our youth will strengthen our community as future leaders.”

Wang adds, “I don’t do a lot, but I do what I can.” His full menu of compassionate activities belies his modesty, as his volunteer work is truly making a significant difference in our community and around the world.

Corporate Sponsor of the Year – The Oaks Shopping Center

Aaron Spector, Senior Property Manager

As the largest retailer in the Conejo Valley, The Oaks Shopping Center is home to 150+ businesses, including a variety of shops, restaurants and a movie theater. For the past three years, the man running the mall is Aaron Spector.

“The Oaks is a proud community supporter, with long-standing community relationships established when the mall was originally built in 1978, including partners like Hospice of the Conejo, as well as more recent partnerships, such as the Cancer Support Community,” says Spector.

“We take great care to involve The Oaks and its staff in organizations that resonate with our shoppers, and, more specifically, promote and improve education, healthy lifestyles, environment and general well-being for our community. From sharing our time and resources with our partners to hosting important community-centric, on-mall events, we are dedicated to a strong list of partnerships.”

In 2018, The Oaks will be celebrating its 40th birthday. Spector says his company always follows the pulse of its shoppers and the retail world, continuously seeking the best merchandise and aesthetics, as well as state-of-the-art improvements for the community.

The Oaks recently became the first property in the United States to win the prestigious BREEAM In-Use Green Building Standard Award, which showcases the company’s high level of adopting environmentally sustainable measures. Spector says his company is extremely proud of its “green” efforts and they are dedicated to continued improvements to positively impact the Conejo Valley that go far beyond mere commerce.

“As retail is an ever-changing environment, we are charged with creatively reinventing the shopping dynamic for the Conejo Valley resident,” he says.

“We are delighted to be a part of the area and welcome the next 40 years with enthusiasm.”

He looks forward to continued success on the retail side but is equally enthusiastic about giving back to the community “to make it a more enjoyable place for all who call this great area home.”

Chamber Business of the Year – Sports Academy

Chad H. Faulkner, CEO

“I have been leading my own companies since I was 25 years old,” says Sports Academy’s Chad H. Faulkner. “I am basically unemployable, so I have had to create companies I can work in,” adds Faulkner, who specializes in Human Performance Optimization and event management.

Support from his wife, family, business partners and teammates, coupled with his “focused and determined passion to get better every day” helped Faulkner reach his goals.

As CEO of Sports Academy, Faulkner applies his leadership skills and passion in support of the company’s mission to optimally train athletes. Sharing his advice for living your best life, Faulkner says:

“Be authentic, be trustworthy, find your passion and commit to doing your best to achieve the shared objective.”

Naming his 19+ years of marriage, daughter and son, and many true friends as his greatest accomplishments in life, Faulkner strives to “Be the best husband, father, son and friend I can every day.”

Sports Academy is a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary sports medicine, sports science athletic training campus.