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Gorneys named 2014 outstanding Charles County Chamber of Commerce ... - So Md News

Greer first met Jim Gorney when she started as a county prosecutor in 1992. Over the years, she has grown to know the couple both professionally and personally.

“They’re very much like a team,” she said.

At chamber events, “they make it a point to reach out and talk to as many members or guests as they can.”

The Gorneys — Jim is a Buffalo, N.Y., native and Judi is from Syracuse, N.Y. — moved to the metro area when Jim got a job with the FBI.

He was working with a lot of attorneys as an insurance adjuster and thought, “I can do that.”

He enrolled in George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Va., spending three years studying.

He graduated from law school, took the bar exam and the couple welcomed their first child, Mollie, all in the same week, Judi said.

In 1984, they moved to Southern Maryland.

Judi was a stay-at-home mom who could be counted on to volunteer at the schools of her kids — now including son Jeremy. She would go on field trips, work with the Little League, help her children and their friends learn how to use computers, though she barely knew how to turn one on at the time.

Joining the club

The first group the couple joined was the Greater Waldorf Jaycees.

“We made a lot of friends that we still have today,” Judi said.

Soon, Jim was attending the lunch meeting the Kiwanis Club of La Plata was holding down the street from the firm he was working at.

The community service organization is known for its projects that benefit children’s activities and causes including The Eliminate Project, which has Kiwanis International and UNICEF working together to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.

The La Plata group also works with the Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club to fit bike helmets for children during Center for Children’s Touch-A-Truck event.

And while it doesn’t involve children, the Gorneys’ enthusiasm for a veterans program has led to Kiwanis members heading to Washington, D.C., to participate in Honor Flight.

“I read about it and thought it was neat — sounded like a good idea,” Jim said.

A nonprofit organization, Honor Flight arranges trips to the District for veterans of World War II and the Korea and Vietnam wars to visit the memorials around the city.

Volunteers greet the veterans and their companions (each vet has a “guardian” along for the day) at Reagan National Airport and some show up at the memorials to learn more about the veterans.

“Everybody has got a story,” Judi said.

Two in the chamber

The Gorneys joined the chamber of commerce about 11 years ago when Jim started his own office, where Judi works as the office manager.

He’s been on the board of directors and is on its membership committee.

Judi provides “backup” and, as the creative one — she designs intricate handmade greeting cards — she comes up with different ideas to keep things fresh, including drumming up door prizes for chamber events.

“We’re a team and everybody knows it,” she said.

“They both have good ideas that have helped to expand our membership and involvement,” said Betsy Burian, president and CEO of the chamber.

She said the Gorneys are the type of people who, like many chamber members, can be counted on to volunteer or lend a helping hand, even if it’s a last-minute request.

“The Gorneys add a degree of enthusiasm and energy that’s contagious,” Burian said. “And they’re fun to be around.”

When there is free time, Jim — immediate past president of the Charles County Bar Association; member of the Maryland State Bar Association, the peer review committee of the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland and recipient of the Good Guy White Hat Award from the Charles County Bar Association and the Charles County Judicial Nominating Committee — a baseball fan, travels to different major league ballparks to take in games, usually with daughter Mollie by his side.

Or he and Judi, who recently celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary, are heading into the city, organizing dinners with friends or taking tango lessons.

“We keep busy,” Judi said.

“If it’s not fun,” Jim said. “I’m not going to do it.”

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