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Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Announces 2022 Distinguished Citizen Award Winners

Submitted by Haley Stafford, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce

(August 23, 2022) — Chairwoman Kristen Roberts of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce has announced that the Chamber’s 126th Annual Awards Dinner will take place on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam.

During the Annual Awards Dinner, the Middlesex Chamber’s 2022 Distinguished Citizens will be honored. Each year, the Chamber presents this award to one or more individuals who have served as an inspiration to others and is recognized by the Middlesex community as having unselfishly given his or her time and talent to produce a lasting benefit to the area. The 2022 Distinguished Citizens are: Stephen & Alison Brinkmann, Vincent Capece, Jr., and Richard Carella, Esq.

Middlesex Chamber President Larry McHugh noted, “Again this year, our Distinguished Citizen Committee has chosen four outstanding individuals. They have contributed to making Middlesex County a better place to work and live and we are extremely proud of all of them.” The Chamber will also recognize Past Chamber Chairwoman Maureen Westbrook, as well as the 2022 Chief Michael L. Green Award Recipient.

The cost to attend this annual event is $65.00 per person. Advance registration is required, please register online: www.middlesexchamber.com.

Stephen & Alison Brinkmann- Stephen and Alison have lived in Essex for more than 20 years. Alison grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia and, after graduating from William and Mary, lived in several locations throughout Virginia and Maryland.  Stephen grew up in Port Washington, New York and, after graduating from Cornell, lived in New York City, Maryland, and Long Island.

Stephen Brinkmann started BrandTech Scientific, an importer of laboratory equipment and consumables from Germany, in April of 1996. The company established its first office in Centerbrook in the summer of that year and moved to Saybrook Road in Essex at the end of the year.  Since 2001, the company has been located on Bokum Road in Essex.  Currently the company has 56 employees in the US and Canada, 31 of whom reside in Connecticut.

Alison Brinkmann worked in sales for more than 20 years for several companies in the chemical and laboratory equipment space. She spent 10 years at Thermo Fisher Scientific, ultimately becoming an Industry Director of Pharmaceutical Accounts, which required regular travel across the country. Alison left the corporate world in 2012 to start Simply Sharing under the guidance and fiscal sponsorship of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. Simply Sharing collected furniture and other household items, cleaned them, fixed them and then delivered them to those in need, identified by agencies assisting with rehousing efforts. Although based in Essex with a 5000 sq ft warehouse, Simply Sharing served Middlesex County and beyond. Simply Sharing operated as a stand-alone organization until 2018 when it merged with For Goodness Sake of Middlefield.

Over the course of their 20 years in Essex, Stephen and Alison have supported the community by volunteering time and resources to multiple local organizations. Alison joined the Essex Fire Department in 2019. The following year she successfully spearheaded a major fund-raising campaign for AED’s for each of the department’s vehicles and two Lucas devices.  The effort was hugely successful and resulted in her being awarded the Chief’s Award, one of the departments highest honors. Alison has headed up the department’s Membership Committee for the past few years. She is currently certified as an Interior Fire Fighter and can operate several of the department’s apparatus. In the spring of 2022, she earned her EMT certification.

Currently, Alison serves on the Board of the Connecticut River Conservancy, a not-for-profit focused on preserving the Connecicut River from its roots in Vermont to Long Island Sound.  In addition, she volunteers at Forgotten Felines in Clinton. Previously Alison served on the Board and as Vice President of the Connecticut River Museum.  She has held Board positions with HOPE Partnership, the Essex Historical Society, Essex Library Association, and the Rotary Club of Essex. She is on the Governance Committee for Sister Cities Essex Haiti. For her efforts in the community, Alison received a Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club in 2015.

Stephen is currently on the Board as Treasurer of the Essex Winter Series. Stephen spent many years on the Board of the Rotary Club of Essex and served as President in 2006-2007. He was the founder of the Rotary Club of Essex Foundation, a separate 501 (c)(3) dedicated to supporting the community. The club awarded him a Paul Harris Fellowship in 2008.

Stephen has served on the Board and as Treasurer for the Essex Elementary School Foundation and the Essex Historical Society.  He was on the Board of Riverview Cemetery and has served on the Finance Committee of the Connecticut River Museum. Stephen was Treasurer for Simply Sharing. He also did one term on the Board of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.

Stephen and Alison have two grown children, Nicholas and Rhena, who live in the Seattle area. Stephen holds a Master Scuba Diver certification. Together the couple enjoys the beach, travel, boating, golf, and all that Middlesex County has to offer.

 Vincent Capece, Jr.- Vincent G. Capece, Jr., is President and CEO of Middlesex Health in Middletown. Mr. Capece has been an executive in the health care industry for more than 30 years. During this time, he has developed expertise in strategic plan development, operations and finance. Prior to his current position, Mr. Capece has held a number of different executive positions at Middlesex since 1998, including Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations, and Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. Before joining Middlesex, he worked at Bridgeport Hospital, where he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of that hospital’s financial operations, including internal and external financial reporting for the hospital and its affiliates, a position he held since 1990. From 1985 to 1990, Mr. Capece worked in the audit division at Arthur Andersen LLP.

Mr. Capece received a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting, magna cum laude, from the University of Connecticut. He is also a certified public accountant.

Mr. Capece is a board member of the Connecticut Hospital Association and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a former board member of the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, the Middlesex United Way, and former Chairman of the Board of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. His professional memberships include the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Vin and his wife Tina are lifelong residents of Watertown and have four adult children, Santina, Rebekah, Christopher and Mani. In his free time Vin enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and playing golf.

 Richard Carella, Esq.- Richard D. Carella is an Attorney, Vice President and Shareholder at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. in the firm’s Middletown office. He has been in the private practice of law since 1993. A graduate of Xavier High School in Middletown and Fairfield University, Rich obtained his law degree in 1991 from Quinnipiac University School of Law. He started his own law firm in 1993 and eventually merged with Updike, Kelly & Spellacy in 2010 to head the Middletown office.

Although born in Stamford, Rich is a Portland native, having lived in Portland since 1968. He and his wife, Tamara, are proud to be raising their two children, Caroline and Mitchell, in the same house Rich grew up in.  An avid outdoorsman, Rich and his family take full advantage of all the great outdoor amenities Middlesex County offers, including the Air-Line Trail, golf courses, the Connecticut River, and Powder Ridge. The family also enjoys Middletown’s great restaurant scene.

Rich’s law practice focuses on commercial, industrial and coastal land use matters, zoning and real estate development, as well as business succession and estate planning for business owners. Although based in Middletown, Rich’s clients span the state.  Some of Rich’s notable projects include several propane distribution facilities, retail gasoline franchises, recreational sports complexes, marina and campground facilities on the banks of the Connecticut River, commercial solar electrical generation projects, the redevelopment of blighted properties using State funding, and the expansion of public water service to municipalities requiring clean drinking water to resolve local environmental remediation issues. Rich takes great pride in having a results-oriented practice dedicated to achieving his client’s business interests while advancing governmental public policy agendas. In doing so, he and his clients regularly resolve strategic problems and achieve both business and government organizational goals through the creation of successful partnerships.

An active leader of many community organizations, Rich is past Chairman and currently serves on the Executive and Legislative Committees of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. He is a former President and Paul Harris Fellow of the Middletown Rotary Club, Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Northern Middlesex County YMCA, and most recently President of the Middlesex County Bar Association. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Xavier High School and is a long-standing corporator of Middlesex Hospital and Liberty Bank. Professionally, Rich’s clients include local, family-owned businesses and small and large local companies. He proudly serves as general counsel to many local boards and agencies including the Middletown Long Hill Estate Authority, Middlesex County Revitalization Commission and East Haddam Redevelopment Agency. Rich presently serves as Town Attorney to the Towns of Haddam and East Hampton.

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