Chamber honors Carmen Cavezza

Carmen Cavezza has held many of Columbus' most important leadership positions in the military, government, education and business communities.

Less than a month after retiring as director of the Columbus State University Cunningham Center for Leadership Development, Cavezza was given the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce's Jim Woodruff Jr. Memorial Award on Tuesday at the RiverCenter for Performing Arts. The award is considered the Hall of Fame of Columbus business and civic leadership.

Cavezza has done everything from lead Fort Benning to manage the city, but the former three-star Army general earned his stripes working with volunteers in the Columbus 1996 Olympic softball effort.

"That is where I figured out there is a world when a general says do something, they don't do it," Cavezza said. "And it was even more exemplified when I went to the city government."

Consider the positions of authority Cavezza has held in the Columbus area:

Commander of Fort Benning,

Executive director of Columbus '96, which organized the Olympic softball effort,

Columbus city manager,

First executive director of Columbus State University's Cunningham Center for Leadership Development,

Chairman of the Valley Partnership, a regional economic development organization,

Chairman of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, and

Chairman of the National Infantry Foundation, which is the financial support arm of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Patriot Park.

Former Muscogee County School Superintendent Jim Buntin has worked with Cavezza many times along the way.

"This is from my personal point of view, but I have been fortunate to see many different styles of leadership through the years," Buntin said. "And, I have seen a great deal accomplished by the majority of those styles. But the thing about Carmen is he always did the right thing for the right reasons. He's pure at heart."

Two other awards were presented at the Chamber gathering.

Goodwill of the Southern Rivers President and Chief Executive Officer Jane Nichols was presented with the Chair's Award by Chamber Chairman Jay Alexander. Nichols was honored for her volunteer work with the chamber.

The J.R. Allen Young Leader Award was given to William Taylor, who owns a local CPA firm. The Louisiana native was touched and surprised by the honor that was given by new Chamber Chair Person Jacki Lowe, a Georgia Power Co., regional vice president.

"The more she talked, the more I thought, 'Wait a minute, she's talking about me,'" Taylor said.

Outgoing chamber Chairman Jay Alexander was also honored for his work in 2012.