VALPARAISO | Local business leaders Jonathan Nalli and Rob Thorgren were honored at the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce’s annual Salute to Leadership dinner Saturday evening.
Nalli, Porter Hospital CEO, was awarded Distinguished Community Leader, while Thorgren, president of Thorgren Tool and Molding, received the Legacy of Service award during the event at Strongbow Inn.
Both men said they were surprised when Rex Richards, chamber president, telephoned them a few weeks ago with the news.
“I had no clue, no idea I was up for it,” Nalli said. “I sat there speechless for about 10 minutes.”
Thorgren, who serves on the Valparaiso Family YMCA board of directors, discovered at that time that Deb Koeppen, YMCA development officer, had nominated him for the honor.
“It was the first time I heard about it,” Thorgren said. “I was very honored.”
Kurt Gillins, chamber program director, said an awards committee chose the individuals based on their contribution to the community’s quality of life and their service “beyond expectation.”
“It’s the top award that the chamber gives,” Gillins said.
Nalli, a member of the chamber board and its executive committee and 2011 campaign chair for United Way, takes seriously his role as a community leader.
“We look at our tasks as corporate citizens, and our goal is to make an impact and provide some kind of donation to the community,” said Nalli, who is also on the Porter County Redevelopment Commission and the Purdue University North Central Advisory Committee. “We want people living happier and healthier – that’s our goal.”
Raised in Valparaiso, Thorgren, said his parents taught him the value of community service.
“When I was growing up, my parents were very philanthropic,” said Thorgren, who attended the dinner with his wife, Natalie. “My parents taught us the meaning of giving.”
Nalli, a native of Lexington, Ky., was gratified to be among the individuals recognized for the past 27 years.
“I’m honored and humbled to be considered with that group of people,” said Nalli, whose parents, brother and wife, Cathleen, accompanied him.
Thorgren said his two sons, Bo, 10, and Sam, 5, at home with their grandmother, might not be impressed by the awards, but would like to have come to the dinner.
“They’d be mad to know they were missing a party,” he said.