Member of the Month

Smart, Scrappy, In the Know are just a few words to describe Joie de Vivre managed Hotel, Avatar! Like many JDV Hotels, Avatar is unlike any property you’ve experienced.

A vibrant boutique hotel that promises the amenities of a full service property while you experience one of the world’s only “geek chic” venues! Need a small offsite meeting or planning a stay-cation to Great America? With 168 guestrooms comprised of deluxe king and deluxe double rooms, modern furnishings that offer lively color contrasts and the latest in technological amenities, meeting space and a 24 hour restaurant, Avatar is certain to accommodate every need.

Located in the heart of Santa Clara, just northeast of Highway 101 on Great America Parkway, we also offer complimentary shuttle service to and from the Santa Clara Convention Center, Mineta San Jose International Airport [SJC] and anywhere else within a five (5) mile radius. With the best amenities and a fabulous location, Avatar Hotel lets you work, meet, play, and connect with technology, style and modern comfort. With our inviting lobby filled with a classic Robot shrine, candy dishes filled with our Property themed candy “Nerds” and staff that is so diverse and welcoming, Avatar Hotel is certain to make your stay unique and unforgettable!


New Board of Directors for the 2012-13 Fiscal Year

Congratulations to the following Board Members who were approved by the membership to serve a two-year term of office beginning July 1, 2012:

Miles Barber, Santa Clara Weekly; Paul Dines, Edward Jones Investments, Thomas Irpan, Marvell; Elizabeth Mason, Intel; Dr. Laurel Jones, Mission College; John Mlnarik, The Mlnarik Law Group, Inc.; Gary Nobile, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate; Barbara Ratcliffe, Biltmore Hotel and Suites; David Tobkin, CPA; Steve Weakland, San Francisco 49ers; Elizabeth Williams, The Tech Museum of Innovation. 

We’d especially like to welcome our Board Members that are beginning their first two-year term and introduce them to our membership.  Here is a brief overview of their backgrounds:

John Mlnarik
He is the founder of his own law firm, The Mlnark Law Group, Inc. specializing in bankruptcy law.  John grew up in North-Eastern Nebraska where he learned the basic principles of relating to people in the community and building a reputation that people trust.  Since moving to Santa Clara in 1996 to attend Santa Clara University, John has obtained two bachelor degrees, a JD, and is active in many community organizations.        

Barbara Ratcliffe
She has been the General Manager of the Biltmore Hotel and Suites since 1995.  Barbara also serves as a part time lecturer at San Jose State University, board member at St. Francis Episcopal Church and is the Chair of Santa Clara Tourism Improvement District.  Barbara is a passionate supporter of the City of Santa Clara and looks forward to working with Board of Directors in continuing the City’s success in attracting conventions and visitors to our City.  

Elizabeth Williams
Began working for The Tech Museum of Innovation in 2007 and is currently their VP of Marketing.  Elizabeth is very familiar with Santa Clara due to her eight years with Great America Theme Park when it was owned by Paramount Parks.  She has a long history of working in the visitor attraction arena in Silicon Valley and will provide important insight to the Board as we move our destination forward with the addition of the new Santa Clara stadium.             

Kimberly Nichols
The Board of Directors approved Kimberly to serve on the Board mid-term.  She is the Campus Director for the Institute for Business and Technology.  Prior to coming to Santa Clara, Kimberly was employed in Phoenix, AZ where she earned her MBA and volunteered with several nonprofit organizations.  Kimberly is looking forward to providing her knowledge in workforce development programs to the future work of the Board of Directors.

U.S. Travel Launches “Vote Travel” Bus Tour

U.S. Travel has launched the “Vote Travel” bus tour. The coast-to-coast tour across America aims to engage the industry and raise awareness with policymakers on the impact of travel during the 2012 election season.  Specific objectives for the tour include:

•    Raising our industry’s visibility across the nation through an aggressive earned media campaign.
•     Engaging industry employees in the electoral process through voter registration drives.
•     Get America Moving Candidate Pledge.
•     Growing U.S. Travel’s grass roots network, the Power of Travel Coalition, which works to make travel a priority with local, state and federal officials.

Over the next three months, thirty-seven stops are scheduled to take place in destinations across the U.S.  Please find the current schedule, which is subject to change, online at  


Chamber Announces Pyramid Awards Honorees

On June 14th, Chamber members and community representatives gather to celebrate the past year’s accomplishments and honor Chamber members whose contributions have made a significant impact on the Chamber’s success.  This year’s Pyramid Award honorees are Lidia Blair as Individual Member of the Year, and Mission College as Business Member of the Year.  
Lidia is an active member of our Chamber and the Santa Clara community.  She participates in our Breakfast of Champions Connection Club, actively recruiting new members to not only join the Chamber, but the Connection Clubs as well.  Just over a year ago, Lidia’s business, Pizza Party, joined the Chamber and since then Lidia has not looked back.  In addition to her active participation in the Connection Club, she has joined the Ambassador Committee where she mentors new members.  As part of her outreach to the community, she has participated as a business host for Business Experience Day and this past winter, she held a warm clothing drive that provided enough gloves, hats and coats for more than 20 kids.  She hosted them at a special holiday party where each child received their winter supplies as well as a gift bag of goodies.  

Mission College is being honored as our Business Member of the Year for the many partnerships they’ve
developed with the Chamber and various entities in Santa Clara.  One such partnership was with our Convention-Visitors Bureau this past Fall.  Students in the Floristry Design Department of Mission College created hats depicting different hotels and attractions in Santa Clara, similar to those worn in San Francisco’s famous Beach Blanket Babylon.  The hats were a key component for the CVB’s presentation to more than 30 meeting planners.  Additionally, Mission  College has kicked off a new speaker series through MC2IT, where the Chamber is invited to include our members in the events.  And last year, Laurel Jones and her staff were instrumental in creating the Chamber’s first ever Annual Report, which was printed and presented at the Pyramid Awards Dinner.  To add to the Chamber’s partnerships, the college is working more with the local school districts and businesses in bridging the gap between high school and four year colleges, as well as ensuring that the courses offered are those that business needs.

Past recipients of these awards have included:

Individual Member of the Year
2004-Gary Mathews
2005-Maria Edmonds Zediker
2006-David D. Tobkin, CPA
2007-Anna Fok
2008-Andy Ratermann
2009-Dick Johnston
2010-Wil Lacro
2011-Paul Dines

Business Member of the Year
2004-Hilton Santa Clara
2005-Intel Corporation
2006-Paramount’s Great America
2007-Silicon Valley Power
2008-KeyPoint Credit Union
2009-Owens Corning Corporation
2010-The Plaza Suites
2011-Kaiser Permanente

In addition to our Individual and Business Members of the Year, honorees will include the Ambassador of the Year as well as our scholarship recipients for Business Experience Day 2011.  Outgoing board members will be recognized for their contributions and the incoming Board of Directors and Officers will be installed.  The evening will conclude with an address by Larry Gerston, PhD, Professor of Political Science at San Jose State.  He will discuss the 2012 election cycle and the results of the recent primary.  Invitations will be mailed in May; however, sponsorships are available-please see the sponsorship form included in this mailing.  We look forward to seeing you on June 14th!