In the vast constellation of stars that make Westport shine, it’s tough picking 2 of the brightest.
But the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has done a stellar job. Lori Cochran-Dougall and Ken Bernhard will be honored Wednesday, June 12 (6:30 p.m., Westport Inn) at the organization’s First Citizen Award dinner.
The duo will be joined by 4 “Young Entrepreneur” honorees, from Staples and Weston High Schools: Ryan Felner, Lilly Garone, Garrett Meyerson and Brianna Zeiberg. Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz is the keynote speaker. Each year the Chamber honors one Westporter from the non-profit world, and one from the business sector.
Cochran-Dougall is well known — and beloved — as executive director of the Westport Farmers’ Market. She’s made it not just a place to purchase great, fresh produce and organic goods, but a true community gathering spot, with entertainment and education too. Every Thursday from May through November, the Imperial Avenue lot pulses with life and good vibes.
Cochran-Dougall grew up in Roanoke, Virginia — home of the oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the country. Before coming to Westport, she chaired the Jackson Hole, Wyoming Farmers’ Market board of directors.
Her achievements here include gaining 501(c)(3) status for the market (a rarity); implementing a winter’s market; working with area chefs and farmers to find solutions to food distribution issues, and advocating for agri-tourism.
Bernhard — the other honoree — is a principal in Cohen and Wolf’s municipal, business and corporate, real estate, family law and appellate groups.
He spent 8 years representing Westport in the General Assembly, rising to assistant minority leader. He was 3rd selectman from 1987-89, after which he was elected to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
He is or has been a member of many boards, including the Westport Library, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Norwalk Human Services Council, Earthplace, Westport Historical Society, Levitt Pavilion, Aspetuck Land Trust, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and Connecticut League of Conservation Voters.
Bernhard helped found the Syria Fund, which provides support and education to refugees in Jordan. He’s deeply involved with the Tree of Life Orphanage in Haiti, which educates and feeds over 200 children, while creating jobs for adults.
He organizes shoe collection drives for Soles4Souls, shipping thousands of shoes to children around the world. He and his wife Alice have also raised 7 guide dogs.
If you want something done, the saying goes, ask a busy person.
On June 12, Lori Cochran-Dougall and Ken Bernhard will slow down long enough to be honored. “06880” joins the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce in saluting these 2 superbly deserving First Citizens.
(For more information and tickets to the First Citizen Award event, click here.)