Brian and Kathy Sullivan were surprised at the Nov. 29 Rotary Club meeting

Published in the December 6 – 19, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Kathy Sullivan (second from right) and her husband, Brian Sullivan, were surprised at a weekly Rotary Club meeting by the Chamber of Commerce. They were selected as the 2018 Woman and Man of The Year. From left, Cecelia Ponzini (ambassador), Mellea McLaughlin (director of publishing), Pat Catanzaro (finance director) and Lori Allen (ambassador), join them on stage for the announcement. Photo by Marty Cheek

Members of the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill had a double-surprise announcement at their Nov. 29 meeting when they learned that fellow Rotarian Brian Sullivan and his wife, Kathy Sullivan, are the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Man of the Year and Woman of the Year.

The announcement came during the “sheriff fines” part of the meeting, with Rotary President David Conragan joking with Brian for not knowing how many years he had been married to Kathy. (It’s 44 years.) Conragan invited 0Kathy up to the stage at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, and asked Brian to follow. In the kitchen area lobby, Rotarian Terry Moriyama waited secretly with a crew of Chamber of Commerce staff, board members and ambassadors.

As the Sullivans stepped on stage, Moriyama led the group into the room. Chamber president and CEO John Horner took the mic and explained to the Rotarians why their weekly club meeting was being interrupted.

“I think most of you know what the Man of the Year and Woman of the Year is,” he said. “We have one of them here today. And Terry arranged that we could crash your party and make a public announcement about it.”

“On behalf of the entire community of Morgan Hill …” he said, and then handed Kathy a framed certificate indicating she was the 2018 Woman of the Year.

Chamber ambassadors, staff, board members and past winners join Mayor Steve Tate in honoring Brian and Kathy Sullivan as the 2018 Man and Woman of the Year. Photo by Marty Cheek

“The nominations come from the community,” Horner said. “The Chamber organizes it, but this is the community’s award. Congratulations, Kathy!”

The audience applauded as Kathy received a bouquet of flowers from Chamber ambassador Cecelia Ponzini.

“But wait, there’s more. We actually have another announcement,” Horner continued. “Brian Sullivan happens to be the Man of the Year.”

Brian’s face showed shock as he was presented with his certificate and flowers.

“We actually had to check the rules about this,” Horner said. “I’m not aware of another time when a husband and wife team were awarded Man and Woman of the Year at the same time. What an awesome couple. Thank you for being two of the people in our community who bring out the best in all of us.”

Horner handed the mic to Kathy. “I’m actually thrilled and speechless,” she told the Rotarians. “All I can say is thank you. I really appreciate this. It’s a privilege to live in this community and work with all the beautiful volunteers who do all the things you do in the community to make this a great city. The historical society has been my work for several years. I’m just appreciative.”

Brian took the mic: “I don’t know what to say. I’m almost speechless, really,” he said. “We love this city. We love the people. We love everything that people do here. So many people deserve this more than me. Really, there are so many people who do things in this community to help. And without all those who do volunteer and help, this would be a different city. Thank you very much.”

In celebration of the double announcement, Conragan announced there would be no Rotarian sheriff fines that day.

The Sullivans were nominated for the honor by Moriyama and Rosy Bergin, a Rotarian and owner of Rosy’s at the Beach Seafood restaurant. In February, the two had come up with the idea of nominating the couple, Bergin said.

“They both do so much, and then being honored together they’ll have a bigger impact,” she said. “He’s so involved in being active on so many boards. And she’s involved with the historical society and has taken it to another level.”

The couple moved to Morgan Hill in 1990.

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Brian has volunteered for many Chamber events including the Taste of Morgan Hill, the Friday Night Music Series and Celebrate Morgan Hill. He is also active in the Mushroom Mardi Gras, Air for Paws, Community Solutions, the Edward Boss Prado Foundation, the Morgan Hill Downtown Association, the Rotary, and the Community Law Enforcement Foundation.

Kathy serves as the president of the board of directors for the Morgan Hill Historical Society. She also volunteers at the Taste of Morgan Hill and the Quilt Show. Beginning in 2006 as a docent at the Villa Mira Monte national historical landmark site managed by the historical society, she has pushed funding for a major face-lift and development of the back portion of the property

“They’re both very involved with city activities,” Bergin said. “They’re frequently at city council meetings to participate in local government. They really, truly care. They’re an amazing couple, and together being honored — it’s perfect. It’s like the super prize.”

The couple will be honored at the Celebrate event and will be joined by the recipients of the Business of the Year (20 employees or larger), the Educator of the Year, the Student of the Year, and the newly created Small Business of the Year (20 employees or smaller) and the Nonprofit Organization of the Year.

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at editor@morganhilllife.com.
Robert Airoldi