Meet the award-winning local leaders driving growth in the region

The honorees for the eighth annual Everest Award are difference-makers along the Interstate 75 Growth Corridor, both in public and behind the scenes, organizers said.

The leaders being honored by the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance with this year's award are Larry Connor, founder and managing partner for Miami Twp.-based real estate investment firm The Connor Group; Dave Gully, retired Warren County administrator; and Denise Quinn, MillerCoors Trenton Brewery's retired vice president and plant manager.

The award dinner is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. May 16 at Cincinnati Marriott North in West Chester Twp.

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“The Everest Award dinner was created to honor the leaders and legends who have made significant contributions along the I-75 Growth Corridor,” said Joe Hinson, the chamber’s president and CEO. “This is our eighth year and the excitement for this event just keeps growing with so many of our past honorees attending and continuing to contribute to the overall growth and health of this corridor.”

Jose Castrejon serves as head of a committee of between eight and 10 people who pick the Everest Award nominees, setting to work on that task immediately after the previous year’s award dinner.

“We start identifying the people that we think have been big contributors to the growth of that corridor and we debate and try to make sure that we capture people that are from the south of the corridor to the north of the corridor because we know they all will have to work together,” Castrejon said.

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Connor founded the Connor Group in 1992. It owns and operates luxury apartment communities in 13 markets: Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Louisville, Austin, Nashville, Denver, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Dallas.

Gully retired in 2016 after 11 years as county administrator. He previously served for 15 years as West Chester Twp. administrator.

Quinn recently retired from MillerCoors after just over 40 years with the company, which employs 550 people at its MillerCoors Trenton Brewery in Butler County’s St. Clair Twp.

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Connor, Gully and Quinn are perfect choices for the award, Castrejon said.

“It isn’t just what they’ve done with their businesses, but also what they do behing the scenes that we think is important, both for how they are really part of their community and how they serve, whether it’s for chambers or for just behind the scenes,” he said. “For us, that’s a big, key piece of that puzzle, not just their businesses, but what they do for the community that they serve.”

Keynote speaker for the awards dinner is NFL media analyst Solomon Wilcots. His six-year NFL career as a defensive back included four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals (1987-90), one with the Minnesota Vikings (1991) and one with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1992).

He serves as project manager for Aethlon Medical’s clinical study of a blood test to detect and monitor chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disorder linked to football.

To register for the Everest Award dinner and program, visit

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