The AFCOM Chapter Award Winners

No doubt, 2020 was a year of challenges for us all, but we had some amazing contributions of individuals and local AFCOM chapters who rose above to continue to advance our data center industry and keep our AFCOM communities connected.  Alicia Schap, AFCOM's  association manager, announced the winners at Data Center World in Orlando last week.

The Volunteer of the Year Award  recognizes a member whose membership, and local and national contributions and involvement, have made a significant impact on their local chapter and the data center industry.

Winner Al Nichols, Director of Events of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, exhibited a commitment to not only his local chapter but also extended to other local AFCOM chapter communities, collaborating to create joint chapter virtual events including recruiting and coordinating with all speakers and panelists and all aspects of marketing the event.  To quote from his nominator, “Al has continued to be a huge mentor to our chapter and board. He builds on relationships and provides effortless connections between like-minded individuals. He lives and breathes AFCOM, and it shows. He has reached out to our Texas AFCOM family to host events together and keeps up with our other local chapters across the nation.” Nichols has been a member of AFCOM for more than 18 years and served on the local board of directors for more than 14 years.

The Chapter Event of the Year recognizes the planning, production and execution of a chapter event which demonstrates superior achievement in educational content, theme, and presentation.

This year’s winner, Dallas Fort-Worth hosted several virtual events throughout 2020.  The chapter worked closely with AFCOM national to make sure that the event was setup for promotion and registration via the national AFCOM database on its local chapter and any collaborating chapters’ websites and that notifications were sent to their local AFCOM communities. The winning nomination was entitled “Efficiently Cooling High Density Compute – One Goal, Many Solutions.” It was extended to all Texas AFCOM chapters and the Northern California chapter, resulting in 126 registrants.  It included seven speakers to represent each solution followed by Q&A as a panel.

The Service Award honors the creativity, dedication, and leadership of members who contributed to and participated in the advancement of the industry through service to AFCOM chapter organizations, industry programs or an AFCOM Board.

This year the award has a joint award nomination to two individuals: Stuart Dyer, Director, and Phil Baroody, Chapter Secretary and Co-Director of the AFCOM Potomac Educational programs. Both were instrumental in continuing to drive growth for their local chapter’s internship program in 2020. They were able to fund eight internships for a 10-week program during the summer of 2021 while also developing a new scholarship program in memory of one of the recipient’s mothers who passed in 2020.

The Chapter Program of the Year was developed to recognize the contribution of programs developed by local AFCOM chapters that provide support for advancing career or professional development opportunities within the data center industry.

The inaugural recipient of the Chapter Program of the Year award, the AFCOM Potomac Chapter Educational Programs, has been supporting college and university students in their region for over four years.  Through collaboration with local area colleges and universities, and earning the support of local data center companies, they were able to secure sponsorships for the programs resulting in over $35,000 for eight students to complete a 10-week paid internship program this summer. Twelve students will be sent to the NOVA Data Center Operations program in Fall 2021 via the Mary Darling Scholarship Program, a program implemented in 2020, at no cost to the students. 

The Chapter of the Year Award recognizes a chapter that exemplifies outstanding achievement in chapter planning, management, member participation, merit of educational programs and membership growth and retention.


This year's winner, AFCOM Chicago, Bill Winsininski Chapter President,  is a chapter that had not been as active within their local community until a new board was elected at the start of 2020.  After working through the challenges with a new board in 2020, they pushed through to offer virtual events. They even extended participation to other local AFCOM chapter communities, inviting them to an event entitled “The IT Security Winds Have Changed: What we learned from the SolarWinds Security Breach,” that featured industry experts Bill Kleyman and Mel Reyes. The chapter also executed its inaugural golf event to help fund local charities in their community and drive initiatives such as encouraging veteran placement into their local data center community workforce and developing programs to encourage women in the data center.