Karen and Brian Aungst Sr. were named the 2017 “Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater” by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.
During the 95th annual Chamber meeting last week, Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Seel was named AchieveHERs Woman of the Year. At the banquet — themed “Imagine Clearwater” — the Chamber announced its 2017 Business of the Year winners. The theme served as not only an ode to the city’s bluff development, plan but also a celebration of the assets that Chamber officials say make Clearwater such a unique and thriving city.
At the banquet — themed “Imagine Clearwater” — the Chamber announced its 2017 Business of the Year winners. The theme served as not only an ode to the city’s bluff development, plan but also a celebration of the assets that Chamber officials say make Clearwater such a unique and thriving city.
“I see a room full of business leaders, entrepreneurs, civil servants, and educators who come from so many diverse backgrounds and who choose to spend their time and energy focusing on giving back, helping others and accomplishing great things,” new board Chair Stephanie Schlagater said. “We are here because we care about the Clearwater region and we take responsibility for making it a better place.”
Brian Aungst Jr. wrote a tribute to his parents:
My parents together possess that special blend of continuous community service, philanthropy, and lifelong dedication to Clearwater that I believe embodies the Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater tradition.
My mother and father co-chaired several major and successful community events.
In 1999, they co-chaired the Morton Plant Mease Foundation’s Toast to Life at Innisbrook. The Toast to Life raised over $200,000 that year — a record at the time.
In 2002, Mom and Dad co-chaired Charity Works Monopoly Night.
In 2003, my parents co-chaired the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball.
My mom has been active in the community since we moved to Clearwater in 1988. She was the president/chair of several PTAs, PSTAs and School Advisory Councils. She was Volunteer of the Year at Safety Harbor Middle School and Countryside High School. She operated a not-for-profit handbag business whereby she made and donated tens of thousands of dollars of cigar box handbags to numerous charity auctions in the early to mid-2000s (she did not make any profit and took no salary she just did it because she liked doing it).
She has been active on numerous committees for the Arc (formerly UPARC) for decades and has been instrumental in organizing their annual fashion show. She has also been active on the Charity Works committees for years and works on their annual events including Monopoly Night.
My mom was also incredibly supportive of the Abilities charity and helped them coordinate their annual Uncorked event at Tropicana Field and on Clearwater Beach. My mom was recognized as ‘Mrs. Countryside’ in 2002 for her community service.”
Chamber officials also added its praise for naming the couple Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater.
For Aungst, a former Clearwater Mayor who moved to the city in 1988, the Chamber said there has been one theme that served as a driving force behind everything he does: “To do everything he can to enhance the quality of life for the people of Clearwater and Pinellas County.”
This theme of service has carried through all aspects of Aungst’s life; from his involvement in the business community as senior director of Bright House Networks to his many personal commitments through numerous nonprofits and social agencies.
Aungst implemented a public relations initiative that led to Bright House’s being recognized as the “Philanthropic Corporation of the Year for Tampa Bay” in 2008. Through his efforts, millions of dollars are directed to more than 700 nonprofit organizations throughout the Bay area.
During his six years as Mayor, Aungst led an unprecedented sweeping $750 million redevelopment effort that saw major infrastructure improvements including significant improvements to Clearwater Beach, a new bridge to the beach, new libraries, recreation centers and a new home for the Phillies and Threshers, Bright House Networks Field.
Aungst is also credited with starting a Neighborhood Services Division in the city which strengthened neighborhoods during his tenure. Recently, he played an instrumental role in bringing Clearwater Beach Uncorked and the Super Boat National Championship Festival to Clearwater Beach, both held at historically quiet times for tourism. The economic impact has been substantial.
Super Boat Races infused a documented $18.6 million into the community in a single weekend. It is now listed as the largest spectator sport in Pinellas County.
Aungst, chamber officials said, is committed and involved with a variety of nonprofits, as well as serving on numerous boards and committees in the greater Clearwater area. As a champion of Clearwater for Youth and chairman of the board, Aungst led a successful endowment campaign that matched a $700,000 pledge and raised the endowment to $2.2 million. Some of the other nonprofits he has been active with over the years are the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Abilities Foundation, Charity Works, Ruth Eckerd Hall, the Chi Chi Rodriguez Foundation, the Children’s Dream Fund, Hand Across the Bay, the Lighthouse of Pinellas, and the Morton Plant Mease Foundation just to name a few.
Aungst’s son Brian Jr. lives in Clearwater with his wife, Cary and new baby, Brynn. They are active in the community as well.
The 2017 Business of the Year Winners:
Medium Business of the Year: CTS Towing & Transport
Large Business of the Year: WestCMR
Small Not-for-Profit Business of the Year: Placement Works
Large Not for Profit BOTY: HEP (Homeless Empowerment Program)
Judges Choice Award: Ruth Eckerd Hall
Ambassador of the Year: Jo Dee Colonius
Tourism Person of the Year: Eric Waltz
Phillies All-Star in the Community: Alan Bomstein
Economic Advancement Award: St. Petersburg College