A life-long resident of Van Buren with a servant’s heart has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year award.

Debbie Foliart, owner of The Destiny Group and host of Leadercast Van Buren, will be recognized at the June 9 annual meeting of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce.

She was surprised with the announcement of the award Tuesday morning at the coffee shop and book store, Chapters on Main, that she and her husband, Alan, recently opened.

"Debbie has enriched my life and so many others," said Lisa Huckelbury, who nominated Foliart for the award and made Tuesday’s surprise announcement.

Foliart said she had no clue of Tuesday’s announcement when she was lured to the book store by her husband during the midst of packing for an out-of-town trip.

"I am blown away," she said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this. I could not do what I do without all of you who have touched me so deeply."

The suprise announcement was made since the Foliarts will be on vacation on June 9. Debbie’s brother, Darrel Spencer, will accept the award at the banquet.

"Debbie has a desire to help others develop their leadership skills and unite her community through leadership development," Huckelbury said in her nomination. "Her hope through Leadercast is to awaken the dreams that are inside people and enable them to cast vision for their professional and personal lives."

Huckelbury also said Foliart desires to be a catalyst for people to do great things and to help people connect because no one is meant to do it alone.

Foliart introduced Leadercast to Van Buren in 2011. This year’s event was the only site in a 60-mile radius.

Foliart is one of 12 members to have been selected to serve on the national advisory board for Leadercast, hosted by Giant Impact out of Atlanta, which simulcasts to hundreds of locations in 22 countries.

Tawana Wright, who formerly worked with Foliart at the Press Argus-Courier, said Foliart is dedicated to promoting, preserving and enriching the quality of life in Van Buren.

"This is evident by the many hours she devotes to volunteering and community service," Wright said. "Debbie feels that cultivating leadership skills is of utmost importance for personal growth and fulfillment, as well as creating community leaders for the future."

Cindy Faldon, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, said she first noticed Foliart’s exemplary talent of leadership when she served as president of the Van Buren Kiwanis Club in 2013.

"She led her team to impact more students through the K-Kids program at participating Van Buren schools," Faldon said. "She reinforced leadership skills within our K-Kids by providing several volunteer opportunities for our area youth."

Faldon said Foliart is always willing and gives her whole heart and mind to a project she is asked to lead.

Viki Kilgore, former president of the GFWC Women’s League of Van Buren, said Foliart gives with a cheerful spirit.

"The way Debbie handles all her obligations is amazing," Kilgore said. "I value her friendship and her willingness to help whenever, however, needed."

Debbie and Alan Foliart both attended school here. They have two children who are married and have children, Adrienne Westbrook and John Westbrook, living in Allen, Texas, who have three children, Christian, Nathan and Megan, and Josh and Casandra Foliart, living in Cumming, Ga., who have two children, Lucas and Sofia.

Debbie Foliart is a member of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce board and also the board’s executive committee, has served as Prime Time Expo chairman the inaugural year, is currently a member of the Women’s League of Van Buren and is serving as Education Committee Chair for the second year.

She is a board member of Van Buren Original, a downtown revitalization board and has been a member of the Van Buren Kiwanis Club, serving as president for one year. She is a member of the Van Buren Advertising and Promotion Commission, serving as chairman for the past three years.