GW professor Charles Toftoy smiled at the Alumni House Wednesday as Laura Campos serenaded him with two Spanish guitar players in a rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” during his acceptance of the Las Americas Avenue Hall of Fame Award for his work with local businesses.
“This is an interesting se?or and one tough hombre with a gentle heart,” said V. Hector Rodriguez, president and CEO of Las Americas Avenue, a group formed during the turbulent early 1990s when many small D.C. businesses struggled.
The group supports small businesses in the area and works for the development of an International Development Zone in D.C.
Toftoy, an associate professor of management science and director for the Center for the Advancement of Small Business, has a distinguished list of awards to his name. The former Army colonel received the 1998 U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Educational Innovation of the Year award and was named winner of Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998 and 1999, among other honors.
“In addition to the 70 businesses in our area, he has helped more than 1,700 small businesses,” Rodriguez said.
“This award is not Chuck Toftoy, it is only one piece of the student and graduate student teams that have worked on programs,” Toftoy said at the ceremony. “We have worked with almost every type of business on almost every type of problem,” he said, adding that the award was a “real surprise.”
Toftoy also credited GW’s business department and University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s administration with always “having the green light on” in support of initiatives.
Other speakers praised Toftoy for bringing academia “out of the clouds” to help the individual business owners and make a difference in the community.
The event opened with the presentation of the Las Americas Hall of Fame Award to Trachtenberg, which he accepted on behalf of the University for its work to strengthen businesses and neighborhoods in the inner city.
“This is a University with a tremendous good-neighbor policy,” Rodriguez said.
Trachtenberg acknowledged the University’s work for the community.
“We are a collection of human beings,” Trachtenberg said. “If I can’t find a professor or student group to help, then we can’t help.”
“GW is about neighborhoods,” D.C. City Council member James Graham said. Graham announced a City Council resolution naming April 4 Las Americas Avenue Award and Hall of Fame Day to honor the efforts of the award’s past and present recipients.