Tom Richards is named recipient of the 2022 Leon S. Peters Award


Fresno, CA (December 21, 2021) – Thomas G. Richards has been announced as the 2022 recipient of the Leon S. Peters Award by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Richards was chosen for the award based on outstanding leadership through devotion of his philanthropic efforts to better the community. The selection of this prestigious honor is based upon the recipient’s professional accomplishments, commitment to public service, and entrepreneurial spirit.

“We could not be more excited to honor Tom Richards with this prestigious award,” said Scott Miller, President & CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. “Tom is a servant leader who has consistently dedicated his time and resources to the betterment of Fresno. He is an incredible asset in our community and his name belongs on the list of our most esteemed members.”

Thomas G. Richards has lived in Fresno, California since 1976, coming to the city after graduating from University of California, Santa Barbara and serving in the U.S. Army as an officer. Tom worked on developing projects with others and built single family subdivisions before forming The Penstar Group in 1981. Its real estate activities continue today and have included the development and construction of single-family subdivisions, condominiums, multi-family rental housing, senior rental housing, general and medical office complexes, skilled nursing facilities, industrial warehouse and manufacturing buildings and retail shopping centers.  Penstar’s geographic operations have extended from the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles through Sacramento and in the Seattle, Washington area. Tom has been active in many civic activities, among which have been the Chancellor’s Advisory Council at the University of California at Santa Barbra, the Business Advisory Council for Fresno’s Public Television, the Building Industry Association and the Chambers of Commerce in Fresno and Clovis.  He is a past Director of the 21st District Agricultural Association (a.k.a. The Big Fresno Fair) and past Chair of Fresno Unified School District’s Measure K Oversight Committee, Chair of the Fresno County Workforce Investment Board, Vice Chair of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corporation Board, Chair of the City and County of Fresno’s 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, Chair of Fresno First Steps Home, Director of Fresno’s Property-based Business Improvement District “PBID” and was a Member of the Valley Coalition for U.C. Merced Medical School. Tom currently serves as Chair of the Board for Premier Valley Bank, as well as Chair of CA High-Speed Rail Authority. One notable contribution Tom has made to the central valley is his participation in the creation and ongoing support of Terry’s House, which was named for his late brother.

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. From a simple beginning, Mr. Peters worked to become a great success while also using his creativity and vision to give back to our community through service on numerous boards and donations totaling millions of dollars in the name of a variety of causes. He was revered as a businessman, a civic leader, and a philanthropist who devoted his life to the community while living and working according to the highest ethical standards.

The award will be presented to the recipient during the Valley Business Awards broadcast which will air on February 24, 2022, on KSEE 24 at 7:00 p.m. Additional award recipients for the 2022 Valley Business Awards include the Student Entrepreneur Award, the Community Champion Award, the Rising Star Award and the Harold Zinkin Award.

Past recipients of the Leon S. Peters award include: Vinci Ricchiuti, Karen Musson, 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.

The Fresno Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest business organizations in the Central Valley, with approximately 1,200 member businesses representing over 78,000 employees. The Chamber’s mission is to “promote and support the success of the regional business community thorough effective advocacy, education and relationship building.”