Community First Award Winners Chosen

  • Monday, August 8, 2022

The Community First Awards Committee received approximately 75 nominations from Cleveland State Community College’s five-county service area, 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 13 winners for the individual categories. 

“I am excited to experience my first Community First Awards ceremony,” said Dr. Ty Stone, Cleveland State’s President. "We have an outstanding group of Community First Award honorees this year. Each, in their own way, has chosen to put their community first. We look forward to honoring them at the upcoming awards ceremony and identifying one as the Community First Person of the Year.”

After reviewing all the nominations, the selection committee voted on their top candidate for each category, as well as the one person who will be awarded the Community First Person of the Year. The Person of the Year will not be revealed until the Community First Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at Ocoee Crest in Benton.

 The categories and winners are as follows: 

Arts Award: Lauren Brown - Executive Director, Athens Area Council for the Arts (McMinn County)

Business Award: Jeff Rogers - President/CEO, Wholesale Supply Group (Bradley County)

Education Award: Le-An Thomason - Teacher, Polk County High School (Polk County)

Healthcare Award: Dr. Madison Torrence - Physician, Karis Community Health (Bradley County)

Non-Profit Leadership Award: Derrick and Beth Kinsey - Derrick (CEO) Beth (CFO), Boys & Girls Club of the Ocoee Region (Bradley County)

Philanthropy Award: Dan and Janey Cooke - Owners, Cooke’s Food Store & CSC Investments (Bradley County)

Public Service Award: Avery Johnson - Vice Mayor & City Councilman At-Large, City of Cleveland (Bradley County) 

Public Service Award: Eddie Byrum - Chief of Police, Sweetwater (Monroe County)

Student Leadership Award: Mason Headrick and Love Patel - Students, McMinn County High School (McMinn County)

Don M. Lorton Volunteer Service Award: Pidge Collette - Secretary (retired), Sweetwater Junior High School (Monroe County)

The Community First Awards Ceremony is presented by Cleveland State Community College. It is a benefit for the CSCC Foundation, and will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ocoee Crest in Polk County. Dinner will be provided, and dress for the evening is business casual. 

To purchase a ticket or for information on corporate sponsorship, contact Lee McChesney at 473-2489 or email For more information on the Community First Awards Ceremony, visit All proceeds from the event will go to the CSCC Foundation. 

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