Long Branch – The Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the recipients of the 2019 Louis G. Libutti Community Service Award. The award was established in 1970 in honor of Louis G. Libutti who was a former president of the Long Branch Chamber.
Exemplary leadership, outstanding professional achievement, and community service are the criteria for this award. Recent recipients of the award include Tony Perri owner of Fine Fare Supermarket, Ed Johnson, Director of the Higher Learning Center at Brookdale Community College, Patricia O’Neill owner of The Links News and Dr. Margaret “Meg” Fisher of the Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center.
After working through the pandemic rescheduling the dinner from its original date of March 20, 2020, we are happy to host the 86th Annual Business Awards Dinner on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, at the Ocean Place Resort & Spa, 1 Ocean Blvd., Long Branch, New Jersey.
Receiving the prestigious Libutti Award this year are Esther Cohen, Managing Partner of Cedars & Beeches Inn and Tonya Garcia, Director of the Long Branch Free Public Library.
Though born in NYC, Esther Cohen was raised in North Jersey and upon graduating Wayne Hills High School. She attended NYU to major in Law and Fine Arts, but fate literally intervened and led her to a career in the hotel business. She started as a lifeguard at a family-owned resort in New Paltz where she fell in love with the business.
Esther built her experience and reputation in the industry quickly. While working at Americana Hotels she was transferred to Mexico as the first female director of sales for three major hotels in Acapulco, this was the foundation for her future in the tourism industry. Esther’s reputation in the industry grew she left American Hotels she worked at Sun Resorts and then was names the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Wyndham Hotels.
Upon leaving the corporate world, she started her own hotel consulting company, Smarts Inc. /Tourism Consultants which is now 30 years old and successful. Some 23 years ago she saw another opportunity in a city that claimed it was going to turn around. Her parents brought her to what was then Tall Timbers, and they could instantly see that the structure was sound and the opportunity possible. They bought 247 Cedar Avenue with the intention of turning it from rooming house to a bed & breakfast, now Cedars and Beeches Inn.
Esther joined the Greater Long Branch Chamber of Commerce and saw the need to develop a marketing committee. That first marketing meeting took place in the living room at Cedars & Beeches and from it, the first business directory, map and tourism information was produced by the Chamber.
Today, as second vice president, she continues to serve on various committees including co-chair of Oceanfest, the largest Fourth of July celebration in the state.
At the same time, Esther was also appointed to the planning board for nine years. Esther said, “It is thrilling to watch the projects that you were involved in reviewing and voting through come to fruition”. She also serves on the Urban Enterprise Zone. Both appointments gave her the opportunity to not only work with the city and its personnel but also the opportunity to continue to see the future for this great city.
Tonya Angelique Garcia is a native of Monmouth County. Her maternal family emigrated from Sicily in the early 1900’s and her father left the island of Puerto Rico for Long Branch in 1965. Tonya grew-up in Eatontown and spent her early adult years as a stay-at-home mother raising four sons. As a teenager that left high school (pursuing a Doctorate in public Administration) she champions the value of empowerment through literacy and equal opportunity in education.
In 2013 she was promoted to Library Director. During her career at the library, she’s been responsible for creating innovative programs and services such as Community Connections Social Work Initiative, Fade to Books Barbershop Literacy Program, the Back to Work Initiative resulting in the establishment of Technology and Career Center, workforce development services, the virtual career center and the nationally recognized Fresh Start Re-Entry service now servicing as a model for a statewide program. She also developed the 2004 Diversity Initiative resulting in establishment of literacy classes, teen services and diversity programming and policies at the library.
Tonya was recently elected 2019-2020 President of the New Jersey Library Association President and was twice appointed to serve on the LNRB State Librarian’s Advisory Board.
Other Awards being presented: The Humanitarian Award will be presented to Mr. Avery Grant. The President’s Award will be presented to Mr. & Mrs. Edward Feliciano, FEM Real Estate. The Invest in Long Branch Award will be presented to The Kushner Company, The Wave Resort. Our Business Improvement Awards will be presented to Beach Bee Meadery, The Butcher’s Block, EMGEE Realty, LLC, and Long Branch Distillery.
The Awards Dinner is sponsored by RWJ Barnabas Health / Monmouth Medical Center, NJ Natural Gas, Press Communications, 1st Constitution Bank, Ocean First Bank, Investors Bank, Ocean Place Resort and Spa, Brookdale Community College
Dinner tickets are available at $115 per person. Please contact the Chamber office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-222-0400