The 2011 winner of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce’s Service Award is Joey Leonard.
He grew up in Waupaca and has worked at Thyssen-Krupp Waupaca since 1993, where he is currently vice president of human resources.
“I got involved with the Chamber, as most probably do, primarily through work,” said Leonard, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1992 with a degree in communications.
The Chamber presented its 2011 awards during its annual awards program, which was held Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the Waupaca Ale House.
Of his involvement in the Chamber, Leonard said, “My employer was very supportive of someone to get involved in the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce historically has had some representative from manufacturing or some of the large employers, so the Waupaca Foundry has had board members. I was asked to serve on the board of directors. I served as a director and ultimately became the chairman, the past chairman.”
During his tenure, he particularly enjoyed meeting people and networking with others in the business community.
“When I need something in the community, I know who to call,” Leonard said. “I think that works the other way, too, when they (the Chamber) need someone from my business or myself.”
Terri Schulz, president of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “From the Chamber’s standpoint, Joey has just really been a Godsend.”
She said that although Leonard is not serving on the Chamber’s board now, if she needs help or has questions about human resources issues, Leonard is always helpful.
“I can call him and bounce off ideas when I’m hiring or doing an interview. He helps with that. He’s a behind-the-scenes resource for the Chamber,” Schulz said.
She describes Leonard as a person who enjoys meeting new people. “Not only is he a good resource for the Chamber but a great person to have in the community,” she said.
Leonard said he was surprised to learn he was the recipient of the Chamber’s 2011 Service Award.
In addition to the Chamber, he served on the board of Waupaca Youth Wrestling for several years, including as the group’s president. He also served on the board of directors for the northeast Wisconsin chapter of the American Foundry Society and also served as its chairman.
“The last couple of years, I’m busier at work,” Leonard said. “I still try to find some involvement in the community.”
For example, when Fox Valley Technical College sought to raise money for a new regional center in Waupaca, he was part of the fundraising committee.
Community involvement often leads to friendships, which is one thing he likes about being involved in community organizations.
Of the Chamber, Leonard said, “From the business side of it, I think it helps everyones business in the community to be stronger, to support each other in the networking of it. If you’re not involved in the Chamber, you’re missing a good opportunity.”
He sees serving on committees and at community events as a way to connect with others.
“It just makes you feel good to help out your community,” he said.