Recipients Announced for 2017 President’s Business Appreciation Awards


President Elizabeth Burmaster has announced the 2017 recipients of the Frederick Community College President’s Business Appreciation Awards. These annual awards recognize business and non-profit partners for their commitment, contributions, and support of the College mission and its students
The four award recipients will be officially recognized at the President’s Business Appreciation Awards Breakfast on Monday, May 8 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. in the Student Center.

“We are grateful to these award recipients for recognizing the importance of higher education and supporting our students.” President Burmaster said. “FCC is fortunate to have strong partnerships with leaders in the business community and growing these partnerships ensures access to quality, affordable higher education which strengthens our economy and enriches our community.”

The recipients this year are:

Business Partner of the Year – Mark Blacksten, M&T Bank
Mark Blacksten, Vice President and Business Banking Regional Manager for M&T Bank, has partnered with the FCC Business Program since 2014 through his support of the Business Plan Contest. This contest provides students the opportunity to compete for scholarship money by creating their own business plan that is evaluated by a panel of local business leaders. In the past four years, M&T Bank has provided a total of $16,000 in scholarship prize money for the top three students each year.

Blacksten has provided valuable feedback throughout the entire contest process, including assistance in developing the contest rules and scoring process, as well as in the review of the written plans and oral presentations. Blacksten is a strong supporter of FCC and believes in the opportunities community colleges offer to students who otherwise would not be able to pursue higher education.

Non-Profit Partner of the Year – Maryland Legal Aid, Midwestern MD Office
Over the last decade, FCC and its Paralegal Program have teamed up with Maryland Legal Aid (MLA) – Midwestern Maryland Office to serve the Frederick community while promoting student learning.MLA provides a full range of free civil legal services to financially qualified Maryland residents. Once a semester, they team up with FCC and other community partners to sponsor Pro Bono Day, when volunteer attorneys come to campus and provide one-on-one legal advice on a variety of issues to anyone who needs it. An average of 50 volunteers including attorneys and FCC paralegal students provide assistance during this event each semester. To date, nearly 1,000 county residents have received free legal help thanks to this partnership.

In addition, MLA supports the FCC Paralegal Program by participating in a yearly Mock Interview Day, which gives students the opportunity to go to the agency to interview for a mock job opening and receive feedback on their performance. MLA also regularly sponsors FCC student interns who later are employed in Frederick or other Maryland counties. The lead attorney at MLA also serves on the FCC Paralegal Advisory Committee and was an external reviewer for the Paralegal Program Review.

Business Donor of the Year – The Plamondon Companies
Since 1999, the Plamondon Companies have supported the FCC Hospitality and Culinary Program. With the guidance and support of company founder Pete Plamondon, Sr., and current Co-Presidents Jim Plamondon and Pete Plamondon, Jr., this program has grown into the Hospitality, Culinary, and Tourism Institute (HCTI), which was created in May 2016. The HCTI serves as both a career readiness and a transfer program for students interested in hospitality, culinary arts, and tourism. Before the opening of the Monroe Center in 2010, the Plamondon Companies supported the renovation of the previous warehouse space into an innovative facility, which includes state-of-the-art equipment in the commercial kitchen. They continue to assign staff to serve the HCTI in an advisory capacity. 

Since 2009, the Plamondon Companies have endowed annual scholarships to support FCC students. The James Triantis Memorial Scholarship honors their long-time business associate and friend, while the Barbara Anne David Pacifico Memorial Hospitality Scholarship honors a treasured former Plamondon Companies employee.

Business Leader of the Year - Sherman Coleman, Frederick County Office of Economic Development
Sherman Coleman, who serves as the Business Development Specialist, Minority Business Outreach, for the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, was instrumental in the creation of the FCC Rising Entrepreneurs Workshop. The Spring 2017 workshop was offered to students of color in their junior or senior year at Frederick and Gov. Thomas Johnson high schools. The students were recommended by their principal for their entrepreneurial interests. During the five-session workshop, the students met with local business leaders to develop a practical understanding of the tools and resources needed to launch a business. Six local business leaders presented to workshop participants.

Coleman shared his vision for the project with President Burmaster, was on the advisory board that planned the workshops, and attended each session to serve as an advisor to the students.  The students benefited greatly from his wisdom, experience, and active engagement throughout the workshop.
To register for the President’s Business Appreciation Awards Breakfast, visit

For more information about the President’s Business Appreciation Awards Breakfast, contact Caroline Cole at