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Monrovia Chamber Announces Annual Award Recipients

The Monrovia Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce its 2023 award recipients. On March 1, 2024, at the Annual Meeting and Awards Gala, the Chamber will recognize the recipients of the Iris Award (Citizen of the Year), the Monroe Award (Business of the Year), the Service to the Chamber Award, the Educator of the Year, the Firefighter of the Year, the Police Officer of the Year & the Ambassador of the Year.

The Iris Award - "Citizen of the Year"

Katie Gundersen

Katie Gundersen is considered by many to be a true beacon of community engagement and service in Monrovia. Katie's passion for making a tangible difference is reflected in the various organizational roles she serves. As a Board Member of the Volunteer Center of San Gabriel Valley and a key figure in the Make a Difference Day Committee, she fiercely champions initiatives that uplift and support local residents. Katie proudly serves as the Treasurer for the Monrovia Coordinating Council. To further support her fellow Monrovians, Katie stands ready to help in times of crisis as a member of the Community Emergency Response Team. As a co-owner of Swing N Country (a private dance studio serving Monrovia since 1994), Katie is a dedicated member of the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce.  As she supports her fellow business owners by diligently attending nearly every ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Chamber, she is affectionately known as the unofficial “Dutchess of Ribbon Holding.” Katie also serves as a Neighborhood Watch Captain, a leader for the MUSD New Teachers Bus Tour, and a School Site Councilmember for Canyon Oaks High School.

Her dedication to her community is further exemplified in her commitments to historical preservation and the arts. Katie currently serves as the Executive Board Secretary for the Monrovia Historical Society. She also serves as the Ticket Distribution Chair for the Monrovia Historic Preservation Group’s annual Historic Home Tour; she previously served as MOHPG’s Co-President.” Previously serving as Treasurer for over 11 years, Katie currently presides on the Board of Directors for the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts. As a MAFA member, she helped with the K-Rail painting project in Canyon Park.

Katie consistently demonstrates a devotion to improving the lives of those around her. As the owner of EZ Living where she works as an Occupational Therapist, Katie works tirelessly to support her clients living with dementia. She further supports senior citizens as a member of the Monrovia Providers Group and as an Instructor/Trainer for AARP’s Senior Smart Driver program. Katie has also previously served on the committee for Dementia Friendly Monrovia.

Knowing no bounds, Katie's philanthropy extends beyond Monrovia city limits. Katie has served as a member of the Beta Sigma Phi Women’s International Friendship organization for over fifty years; she is currently serving as the Local Chapter and Southern California Council Recording Secretary. Katie serves on the Board of Directors for the California Foundation for Occupational Therapy and also acts as Chair of Foundation Activities at the Occupational Therapy State Conference. Katie also cooks and collects pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House; if you’re both at a gathering and she sees you sipping from a can, she will be sure to kindly request your tab - so have them ready!  

Monroe Award - "Business of the Year"

Bowden Development, Inc.

Bowden Development, Inc. was founded in Monrovia in 1971. Since then, they have completed more than 500 successful projects in the area, giving careful consideration to design, craftsmanship, and community. Bowden Development builds custom-designed residences, detached single-family dwellings, traditional townhomes, residential subdivisions, multi-unit complexes for active senior living, and commercial and industrial developments. Fred Bowden learned the construction business literally from the ground up. As a young entrepreneur, he purchased small parcels of land in Southern California and began developing it with innovative design and workmanship. Fred & his wife, Diane - both graduates of Monrovia High School - owned Langstaff Electric prior to starting Bowden Development. Their son, Todd, worked his way up through the construction trade, in the field and into Project Management, before he was named CFO of the company in 2006.


The Bowden family has resided in Monrovia for more than 70 years and have been highly involved in a number of civic and community organizations, such as the Monrovia Historical Museum, Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, and the Monrovia Guild of Children's Hospital. The Bowden Family is one of Boys & Girls Club of the Foothills’ most generous and longstanding donors. They support the Club annually through event sponsorships and individual giving. Diane Bowden was a founding member of the Club in 1994 and helped to spearhead the For Love of Youth event, which is now known as Youth of the Year. This event has become a significant part of the Club’s annual revenue to fund our programs and mission. Kristy Bowden has served on the Board of Directors and chaired the Foothills Festival of Trees, another significant fundraising event for the Club. She has also spearheaded renovation efforts at the Club and been an instrumental member of the Club’s safety committee. 

Bowden Development’s philanthropic resume also includes (but is not limited to) their involvement in the following: the Monrovia Library Summer Reading Program, Kiwanis Cornhole Fundraiser, sponsorship of Monrovia Days, sponsorship of the Police and Fire Associations, sponsorship of the Taste of Old Town, sponsorship of Monrovia Car Show, sponsorship of Arcadia Restaurant Week, and the BGCF Closet Clothes Drive for interview-wear for highschoolers. The Bowden’s enduring commitment and philanthropy has contributed greatly to the success and longevity of various community organizations, as well as the entire Monrovia community as a whole.

Service to the Chamber Award

Brenda Trainor, Wonder Dog Ranch

Brenda Trainor, along with her partner and husband, Kevin Dods, owns Wonder Dog Ranch, a cage-free dog daycare and boarding business operating in Monrovia since 2012. Their passion for responsible animal care is long-standing, especially for dogs and horses, and starting this second-career business was a way to incorporate that passion with their knowledge and skills of business operations. Trainor's first-career experience in local government and telecommunications contributes to the success of her boutique consulting practice, Frontier Trail Strategies serving public and private sector clients; her thoughts on technologies for small and medium-sized businesses are reflected in her regular column in Business Life Magazine, Tech Insight, that she has been writing for almost two decades.

An active community volunteer, Trainor and her therapy dog, Trixie Tripod, can be found regularly at the Monrovia Library Barks & Books program and other locations as well as volunteering for Pasadena Humane. Wonder Dog Ranch sponsors the Santa Paws Project and supports the Pet Food Bank of the Foothill Unity Center.

Trainor’s concern for her neighborhood and local region is evidenced by her service with local organizations in volunteer and governance roles. She serves on the Board of MADIA Tech Launch and writes the MADIA Tech Report for Beacon Media. She has been volunteering as a member of Monrovia CERT for over a decade. Trainor supports the Monrovia Old Home Preservation Group, the Monrovia Historical Society, the Monrovia Garden Club, the Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association, SGVEP’s K-12 Foothill Consortium, the BizFed Institute, and is a proud member of the Foothill Community Democrats, and the National Women’s Political Caucus-SGV. She received a 2023 Assembly District 49 Women of Impact Award. She is a member of the Monrovia Chamber's Government Affairs Committee and Chamber Ambassador Program. In addition, Trainor is an appointee to Monrovia's Measure K Oversight Committee and The Citrus College Construction Bond Oversight Committee.

Pam Fitzpatrick Award

Shawn Spencer, Girl Friday Solutions

Shawn hails from the banking industry. She has a twenty-plus-year history in the field and has an extensive background in Sales and Customer Service. During the Pandemic shutdown, Shawn began her adventures in self-employment. As the “Girl” in Girl Friday Solutions, Shawn acts as an administrative consultant, providing bookkeeping and administration services to business owners. She also currently serves the community as one of seven members of the Monrovia Old Town Advisory Board.

Born and raised in Sierra Madre, Shawn moved a whopping 2.6 miles to Monrovia in 2011, where she works and lives with her four children. It was as a banker in Monrovia that Shawn first met Pam Fitzpatrick and began to get more involved with city happenings. Upon Pam’s passing, Shawn found it a great honor to take over Pam’s weekly Monrovia Weekly article, “the Monrovia Old Town Report” and she was instrumental in the installation of the memorial plaque on Pam’s “chair” in City Council chambers. Following in the footsteps of her friend, Pam, Shawn continues to support Old Town, its merchants, and the community on a daily basis.

Educator of the Year

Alison Meloserdoff, Wildrose School of Creative Arts

In addition to her local recognition, Alison Meloserdoff, a distinguished educator from Wild Rose School of Creative Arts, was also named one of the 2023-24 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). Alison was also recently named one of the Top 10 Finalists for California Teachers of the Year and was invited to Sacramento to be recognized for her efforts.

Alison considers it to be a privilege to be able to work in a profession where one can make an impact. She considers her class list to be “a treasure chest waiting to be opened” and believes “every child on that list, without exception, has good inside of them and they’re waiting to find it.” Known for her innovative teaching methods and remarkable dedication to education, Alison attributes her accomplishments to the support she receives from her mentors, colleagues, and the students of Monrovia.  

Firefighter of the Year

Hennessy Cabiles

Hennessy Cabiles has been with the Monrovia Fire & Rescue for the past 10 years.  He is an essential part of the department and the success of its community outreach programs.  In addition to serving our community and responding to emergencies, Hennessy has taken the lead in many department programs.  Most notably, he oversees the Fire Explorer Program where he mentors the youth of our community, who are interested in the fire service or in need of some guidance.  His effort and dedication to this program has provided positive impact for our youth, while created a path for them in the fire service.

Hennessy has also taken the lead in Fire Prevention Week activities.  This involves coordinating with Monrovia Unified School District to schedule onsite class visits for all fourth graders in the district.  He ensured the students were educated about fire safety.  It is clear that Hennessy enjoys serving our community in any way possible through his actions and his unwavering energy.

Police Officer of the Year

Mike Garcia

Officer Mike Garcia was born and raised in the city of East Los Angeles. He attended High School in the City of Santa Springs where he played basketball and volleyball.  Officer Garcia met his beautiful wife in high school, and they’ve been happily married for 12 years. They have two children together.  Officer Garcia enjoys sports, especially coaching his son’s baseball and basketball teams.

Officer Garcia was hired by the Monrovia Police Department in March 2006.  Over his 17-year career, Officer Garcia has worked just about every special assignment within the Police Department. He was a member of the Special Enforcement Team, where he helped reduce gang violence in our community in the early 2000’s. He served on the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Taskforce (also known as LA IMPACT), where he conducted narcotics enforcement. He has been a Field Training Officer tasked with training, developing, and mentoring our newest police officers. He was later assigned to the Detective Bureau, where he investigated a variety of crimes, and he is currently assigned to our Community Activist Policing Bureau, where he serves the community in a variety of areas, primarily relating to homeless outreach, community engagement and much more.  Officer Garcia is a humble and hard-working officer. His passion for public service is evident in his daily duties. We are extremely thankful to have Officer Mike Garcia here serving our community.

Ambassador of the Year

Steve Bae, The Joint Chiropractic

Steve Bae is the manager of The Joint Chiropractic, in Monrovia and Rosemead. He has been with The Joint since the Rosemead clinic opened 7 years ago.

Steve learned at an early age to help others and has volunteered with many different organizations and charities.  He served for numerous years as a board member of several non-profit organizations and served as the president of the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council.  In addition, he co-founded a grassroots community organization to help serve the homeless community and the community at large during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now serving his second year as an ambassador for the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce, he looks forward to getting to know more members of the community and finding ways to serve them.