Reynoldsburg Area Chamber of Commerce president Jan Hills was named 2008 Professional of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Ohio during their 2009 Winter Conference in Columbus Feb. 19.

Reynoldsburg Area Chamber of Commerce president Jan Hills was named 2008 Professional of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Ohio during their 2009 Winter Conference in Columbus Feb. 19.

The CCEO was founded in 1916 as the Professional Secretaries Association of Ohio and has grown to more than 235 members representing 200 chambers in Ohio.

CCEO president and CEO B. J. Wiberg said two professional of the year awards were handed out. Hills was recognized in the category of chambers with 300 or fewer members. Marvin Jones, president of the Chillicothe Ross County Chamber of Commerce, was honored in the over 500 category.

Hills said she heard she had been nominated for the Professional of the Year Award but was completely surprised when her name was called at the Feb. 19 conference.

"I am extremely humbled and extremely proud to have received the award," Hills said. "You work very hard, because I believe in what I do and in the chamber and what it stands for. It's nice to have somebody else recognize all of the hard work that you put into it."

Wiberg said the award has been given out each year since 1992. Nominations are reviewed by a committee of five judges, all past honorees.

He said the list of nominees is sent to him. He then makes what he called "blind copies," eliminating names and references to communities and counties, so when the judges review them, they don't know who the person is.

The judges then separately analyze the nominees' achievements in 13 categories, including chamber experience and service background, professional and leadership achievements, and involvement in their communities.

"It's an incredibly high honor because you are recognized by your peers and you're recognized in a way that is nonpolitical. The judges are past honorees, so they understand the importance of the judging that they do," Wiberg said.