PIQUA — When Mimi Crawford stepped up after receiving the Order of George on Thursday evening, it was not long before she was praising the community she loves — the same community that wished to honor Crawford for her service to Piqua and for being “a champion to those in need.”
“It’s with great humility that I accept this honor,” Crawford said at the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce’s 73rd annual meeting and dinner, adding that she has been fortunate to be involved in this community and that she has been blessed in life.
“Along the way, I’ve met all of you,” Crawford said. “I look out, and I see many mentors.”
Crawford said that “Piqua is on the move,” and she called those in attendance at the chamber’s annual dinner a positive influence on Piqua and the city’s future.
“This is a room of positive. This is a room of optimism,” Crawford said. Crawford said she hoped she could be a positive voice to promote Piqua to those who may speak negatively of the city.
“I love where we’re going,” Crawford said. “It’s really all of you that are taking the torch and leading it … We have so much opportunities, so let’s seize it and let’s go with it.”
Local attorney Mike Gutmann, who was also a previous Order of George recipient, introduced Crawford, who is the 52 recipient of the Order of George award.
“Our honoree, for almost 30 years, has championed our local health care by serving on the Piqua Memorial Hospital and Upper Valley Medical Center Foundation boards and has served in leadership roles in both,” Gutmann said. “A founding member of the Piqua Community Foundation, this year’s George has been its president, served on many of its committees, and was instrumental in the first community campaign to raise funds for the Piqua High School athletic facilities.”
Gutmann also recognized Crawford’s involvement on the Piqua Board of Education “during challenging times,” and her work on the school board that “led to the development of policies that have helped to shape education in our public schools.” Gutmann said Crawford’s “commitment to leadership and accountability was driven by the ideal that all of our children must receive a good and sound education.”
Crawford was also the first female member of the Piqua Rotary Club and has been a member since 1990, as well as previously served as the club’s president and honored as a Paul Harris Fellow.
“Most recently, our honoree has become an active member of the Piqua Compassion Network, whose mission is to help transform lives by providing hope, education, and basic needs to Piqua residents struggling to survive,” Gutmann said. Gutmann read a quote from Rebecca Sousek, the executive director of the Piqua Compassion Network, who said Crawford’s “compassion and love for this community and its citizens is paramount in her service at Piqua Compassion Network. She is a champion for those in need and for those who desire to make life better for themselves.”
Crawford also runs a real estate development and home building company, as well as took “the reins of a major manufacturing company built by her father,” Gutmann said. Crawford is the daughter of Cliff Alexander, an Order of George recipient in 1985, and Joyce Alexander. Crawford and her husband Dave are the parents of Julia, who is married to her husband Justin and lives in Columbus, and Ben, who is a third-year medical student at St. Louis University.
Crawford has also been a lifelong member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she has also served as an elder. She has also served on the Endowment Fund Committee and the Program Committee at the YMCA.
Also during the chamber’s annual meeting, outgoing chairperson of the Board of Directors Jim Oda handed the gavel over to Rick Hanes, who is the vice president of Business and Community Partnerships at Edison State Community College. Hanes also praised the caring people of Piqua who drew him to the city, including his wife Beth, who is a Piqua native. Hanes emphasized the chamber’s goals of continuing to unite the business community and promote the vitality of the local economy.
Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Sherman also presented the Commercial Beautification Awards, which went to Piqua CarStar, Glamour on Mane, Mutual Federal Savings, Edison State Community College, VSF Holdings, Elite Etc., and the Mercantile.
Sherman also recognized the staff of Forest Hill Cemetery for being “outstanding volunteers” in their work in helping maintain the Veterans Memorial, presenting the Chamber Achievement Award to Superintendent Jim Roth of Forest Hill Cemetery.
YWCA Piqua Executive Director Leesa Baker then presented Lorna Swisher of Mainstreet Piqua with the Cheryl Stiefel-Francis Award for Non-Profit Excellence. Swisher, who was close friends with and worked with Cheryl Stiefel-Francis before she passed away in 2018, remarked on Stiefel-Francis’ diligence to the Piqua community — a community for which Swisher loves going to work to serve every day.
Jim Sever, CEO and president of PSC Crane and Rigging, then recognized the chamber’s Business Person of the Year, saying, “This couple never stops running … One might say, they can’t stop running.”
Sever then introduced Ryan King as the chamber’s Business Person of the Year, who also credited his wife Amanda for their success at their local business, Can’t Stop Running.