The Chamber’s 132nd Annual Meeting took on a special importance as the community paused to celebrate Gayle Anderson. In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s event, Gayle was hands-on in planning and preparing to host more than 640 honored guests and members of the Winston-Salem business community. Gayle has worked hard to ensure that the Annual Meeting goes off without a hitch for the past 29 years, but this year was particularly special since it comes just a few weeks before her retirement. Despite being involved in (what she thought was) every detail, her colleagues and friends were able to achieve a huge surprise.

As past Chamber Board chairs filed on stage, Mayor Allen Joines commandeered the microphone to present Gayle with the Order of the Longleaf Pine – one of the most prestigious awards conferred by the Governor of North Carolina. It is awarded to persons for exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina.

In every way, these qualities and attributes describe Gayle Anderson. Gayle has been an instrumental leader in shaping Winston-Salem’s progress over three decades. She has been at the table for major developments including the Piedmont Triad Research Park, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, the future Salem Parkway and the I-74 Beltway. She has reimagined Chamber work, developing the first chamber Technology Council and the first chamber contract promoting corporate volunteerism in local schools. Her impact on Winston-Salem’s growth and prosperity cannot be quantified. But what makes Gayle truly special is that she has achieved all these great accomplishments while sharing her charisma, spirit, wit, and determination with everyone she meets.

For all these reasons, over 640 of her admirers were honored to stand and applaud as Gayle received her award.

Not one to take the spotlight, Gayle would point the attention to other special guests who shared the Annual Meeting stage. Debra Crew, President and CEO of Reynolds American, Inc., delivered the keynote address, “Leading Transformation in a World of Disruption”. Crew has served in senior leadership positions at companies including PepsiCo, Mars, Incorporated, Nestle S.A., and Kraft Foods, Inc. and is a US Army veteran.

At the Annual Meeting, the Chamber also presents the Truliant Small Business and Independent Small Business Awards and the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award to carefully-selected local companies and individuals who are making an impact in their fields.

The winner of the Truliant Small Business award is Pure Barre.
The winner of the Truliant Independent Small Business Award is Marley Drug.
The winner of the Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award is Lee French, for his work with the Creative Corridors Coalition.

The 132nd Annual Meeting is supported by Reynolds American, Inc., Cook Medical, Duke Energy, Truliant Federal Credit Union, Fairway, IL Long Construction Company, Wells Fargo, and Windsor Jewelers.