Reedley, CA – Karen Musson, managing partner of GAR Bennett, LLC., was honored as the 2020 recipient of the Leon S. Peters Award on February 12 at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce Valley Business Awards Luncheon at the Fresno Convention Center.
As Chief Executive Officer of the Gar & Esther Tootelian Charitable Foundation, Musson was selected as this year’s recipient for her outstanding leadership to better the community. Recipients are selected based on personal and public service accomplishments that exemplify the spirit of an enlightened, responsible free-enterprise system.
Musson spearheads the annual Feeding Families Fund Drive to benefit the Central California Food Bank, which over the course of six years has raised $1.5 million. She is also the driving force behind the Valley Farm at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo; a unique project designed to educate young people about agriculture through exhibits demonstrating first-hand how farmers grow and irrigate produce.
Musson’s efforts support the Clovis Community Medical Center’s Emergency Room Expansion, Valley PBS, Immanuel School, Fresno State JCAST Plant Science, and FFA chapters throughout the state. She also works closely with the Fresno Grizzlies to sponsor the Ag Zone at Chukchansi Park as well as the Grizzlies Farm Grown scholarship program.
“Karen Musson truly exemplifies what the Leon S. Peters Award is all about,” chamber President/CEO Nathan Ahle said in a press release. “She and her family give tirelessly of their time, talent and treasure to ensure Fresno is a better place to live, particularly for the youth of our community. She is greatly deserving of this honor.”
The Leon S. Peters Award honors those who share the characteristics of its namesake, a man who overcame great hardship to become one of the Valley’s top business leaders.
“It really is an honor to be recognized,” Musson said. “I’m a small-town farm girl and nurturing and cultivating is part of everything we do — on the farm, at home, at church and in serving the community.”
Past recipients of the Leon S. Peters award include: Matty Matoian, Jim Pardini, Bill Smittcamp, Stan Oken, Ray Steele Jr., Richard “Dick” Caglia, John E. Horstmann, Dr. Peter Mehas, Dr. Peter P. Peters, Joe Williams, Lou Herwaldt, Bill Jones, Sid Cox, Bud Richter, O. James Woodward III, Samuel Reeves, Octavia Diener, Robert Oliver, Frederick Ruiz, Anne Speake, Larry A. Shehadey, Claude Laval III, Robert Carter, Richard Johanson, James Hallowell, Lou Gentile, Earl Smittcamp, Helen Smades, William Lyles, Martin Nelson, Joe Levy, Frank Caglia, B. Franklin Knapp, James B. Mayer, Robert Duncan, and Lewis B. Eaton.
Musson serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Gar & Esther Tootelian Charitable Foundation. The organization was created in honor of her late parents who established the Reedley-based Gar Tootelian, Inc., a full-service crop care company. As of January 1, 2020, the company merged with Bennett Water Systems to form GAR Bennett, LLC. Musson remains a managing partner in the growing organization which is now the valley’s oldest agricultural company, spanning more than five generations.
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