The BEAS have it! | 2023 Business Excellence Awards | Chapel Hill, NC

I was honored to capture the smiles, the laughter, and the excitement at the 2023 Business Excellence Awards hosted by The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Held at the newly constructed site of the American Legion, Chapel Hill Post 6, it was inspiring to see these business and community leaders supporting one another and cheering each other on.

Sponsors of the 2023 BEAS near Chapel Hill, NC.

I found myself nodding in agreement as Congresswoman Valerie Foushee gave the opening speech and reminded all of us that small business was in fact big business. She has always been a solid advocate and staunch supporter of small businesses, and she reminds us how small businesses serve a vital role in helping our communities to thrive.  Small businesses spur our economic growth and create jobs. When a thoughtful Congresswoman sees the work of the business owners in her district and calls it out, it elevates all of us.

Congresswoman Valerie Foushee speaks to the business owners near the Triangle.

As the event continued, sponsors welcomed nominees to stand.  The applause from the audience also included cheers, hoots, and some hollers – always a sign of a good time. What impressed me was the spirit of community in the room and among these nominees. As the crowd applauded, the nominees looked around the room at one another, nodded their heads, as if to acknowledge ‘we are here together.’  I saw these connections before the winner was announced, as well as later on when they took their photos together.

These business owners cheered each other on at the 2023 BEAS near Chapel Hill, NC.

When Creighton Blackwell of Coastal Credit Union took the podium in acceptance of the inaugural Black Business Alliance Businessperson of the Year award, he pointed out that as children, we are taught to be humble. As business owners and community leaders, we show up to do the work. It was his closing remarks, though, that really hit home. He reminded each of us in the room to “do more!” More of the work we are doing. More of the way we show up for our families, our clients, our community.  More of the way we serve one another.

Creighton Blackwell talks to small business owners and community leaders at the 2023 BEAS captured by Barbara Bell Photography.

Speaking of service to a community, the 2023 Business Woman of the Year Award is presented an exceptional woman in business who excels in her role and pioneers initiatives that promote female leadership in business. This year’s award was given to Ellen Shannon of Triangle Media Partners, and I couldn’t be more excited for her.

Lori Doherty and Ellen Shannon at the BEAs near Chapel Hill, NC.

When I first moved to the Triangle, I was photographing the 20th anniversary gala for the Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library. I spoke briefly with Ellen about the images I was capturing for the event. In the span of a mere two to three minutes, she shared helpful tips about getting people’s names and their attention, as well as making them comfortable as they crowded together for a photo opportunity. Every experience becomes a part of who we are, and I am grateful to Ellen for her generosity and her wisdom.

Altogether, twenty-one finalists were honored, and ten winners were presented with awards. Congratulations to all the 2023 award winners and to the finalists.

Thank you to the incredible sponsors of this dynamic event!



Portrait and Event Photography near Chapel Hill, NC