Chapter Star Awards Spotlight Creative Programs

posted on Jan. 31, 2018, at 2:15 p.m.

NKBA Staff
Linda Johnston Panattoni receives the Chapter Officer of the Year award from NKBA EVP Industry Relations and CSO Suzie Williford at Chapter Officer Training in Orlando. Photo by: PWP STUDIO

Several chapters received cash prizes for their membership drives and memorable events.

By Dianne M. Pogoda

Representatives of NKBAs network of 70 chapters across North America gathered in Orlando for Chapter Officer Training and networking on the day before the KBIS expo opened. One of the highlights of the full day of training sessions was the Chapter Star Awards, which honored chapters and individuals for accomplishments throughout 2017.

NKBA Chairman Lorenzo Marquez recognized the Chapter Leadership Committee — Roseann Freitas, Aloha Chapter; Kirsten Gable, Baltimore-Washington Chapter; Adam Gibson, CMKBD, Indiana State Chapter; Linda Johnston Panattoni, CKD, California Capital Chapter, who all helped with the presentation of awards, and Melissa Helvey, AKBD, of the Palouse Chapter, who was unable to attend.

Suzie Williford, Executive Vice President of Industry Relations and Chief Strategy Officer of NKBA, presented awards for chapters with the greatest number of members completing their profile pages on the new In fact, 67 out of 70 chapters received a check for completed member profiles, but five were acknowledged for having the highest percentage of members participating: Northern California Chapter, Puget Sound Chapter, British Columbia Chapter, California Capital Chapter and Maine Chapter.

Gibson then took the podium to present the Chapter Growth Awards, both with a $500 prize.

  • For the highest percentage count of new memberships: Texas South Plains.
  • For the highest number of new memberships: Rocky Mountain.

Finally, the chapter with the highest overall income from new company memberships as a result of its 2017 membership campaign, receiving a $1,000 award, was the British Columbia Chapter.

Panattoni, Freitas and Gable next presented the Star Awards, recognizing chapters and their officers.

  • Most Creative Chapter Membership Drive. Maine won for its Harvestfest drive. This play-on-words, meant to “harvest” new members while “cultivating” existing ones, described the charming fall theme of the event, held in a greenhouse decorated in the spirit of the autumn season. They offered a professional photographer for headshots, had swag bags from sponsors, enjoyed farm-to-table cocktails and food, played games, held a raffle and set up a donation station for disaster relief. The event attracted 80 guests, 57 of whom were members, and was a great networking and connection opportunity.
  • Best Chapter Program. Texas North Plains won for its Kitchen and Bath Celebration Day, which included at least two continuing education sessions for NKBA members, and an evening of design-related programming. This annual event has grown significantly in the past five years. It includes CEU classes for members, taught by local and national design and business leaders. The event is also open to members of related fields to boost membership as well as students, and the general public, to create awareness of the NKBA and its benefits, and the advantages of using members in home projects. In all, 47 members attended the classes, and 161 guests came in the evening for programming like “Creative Tabletops” and “Meet NKBA Professionals.”
  • Best Chapter Fundraiser Event. Texas South Plains won for its inaugural “Food Fight San Antonio.” Sponsored by Ferguson Kitchen Bath Lighting and held in its showroom, five teams competed in live kitchens in a cook-off. Local celebrity chefs served as judges, and attendees tasted all the food and participated in a raffle. The event drew about 300 people, and the chapter raised more than $5,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief in the Texas Coast region.
  • Most Successful Chapter Design Competition British Columbia won for its DEA (Design Excellence Awards) Awards program. The chapter turned the awards into a chic night out, and initiated a social media strategy to plug the event, and a digital entry platform for participants to submit entries. This led to a 500% increase in entries. The event sold out, with more than 150 people attending and the chapter gained followers on social media, and has already surpassed the number of DEA entries for next year’s awards.

Next up were Star Awards for individual officer positions. These winners are nominated by their fellow volunteers, and as such, are among the most treasured awards. Each winner received a $500 prize. While there are 10 officer positions, no nominations were received for Vice President of Academic Relations, so nine prizes were awarded this year. The winning officers were:

  • Chapter Representative — Linda Johnston Panattoni, CKD, California Capital
  • Chapter President — Sandee Mann, British Columbia
  • ​​Vice President of Programs — Denise Merbeth, AKBD, Wisconsin/Upper Michigan
  • Vice President of Communications – Toni Sabatino, Manhattan
  • Vice President of Membership — Nichole Cooper, Southern California
  • Treasurer — Mary Jo Schultz, Metro New York
  • Secretary — Alice McCoy, CMKBD, North Florida
  • Vice President of Professional Development — Penny Letson, AKBD, Columbia River
  • Vice President of Government Relations — Kelley Barnett, Texas South Plains.

Williford returned to present the final award of the day, for Chapter Officer of the Year. This prize went to an award-winning designer whose personal philosophy is to always give back.

“Her nomination stated that she attends every chapter function and rarely misses a chapter board meeting,” said Williford. “She has served in numerous officer positions and selflessly steps up to help when vacancies occur. She was instrumental in the annual Sacramento Regional Design and Build Expo co-chairing year after year, an event raising many thousands of dollars for educational scholarships, CEUs for the chapters membership, funding of housing for the homeless, among other things. Her influence and guidance has helped her chapter thrive. The Chapter Officer of the Year is Linda Johnston Panattoni.”

Nominations for Chapter Star Awards are open during the month of October, but it’s not too soon to think about the programs your chapter will be running this year, and the key roles your officers play in these events. The NKBA encourages chapters to report about interesting programs, fundraisers and membership drives, and chapter events throughout the year. Send submissions to the Chapters department at headquarters, at

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