CALM at Heart: Awakening

CALM supporters stand up loud and proud to give financial support to the nonprofit at this week's luncheon. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

CALM supporters stand up loud and proud to give financial support to the nonprofit at this week’s luncheon. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

A fun afternoon to celebrate and reflect on the healing work of CALM was just what the doctor ordered this week.

CALM—which is an acronym for Child Abuse Listening Mediation—takes on the critical mission to prevent, assess, and treat child abuse in Santa Barbara County. The nonprofit provides comprehensive services for children, families and adults, and has done so since its inception in 1970.

Celebrating this organization at the beautiful Coral Casino was a heartwarming affair. K-LITE’s Catherine Remak served as master of ceremonies, introducing a new video highlighting the organization’s work throughout the county, with offices in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc providing prevention and early intervention programs, treatment programs and clinicians who work closely with individuals, families, teachers, administrators and law enforcement.

The theme was an afternoon of mindfulness, and it truly was.

Images of CALM at Heart: Awakening event at the Coral Casino. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

Images of CALM at Heart: Awakening event at the Coral Casino. Photo by Leslie Dinaberg.

CALM staff members spoke from personal experience about their prevention programs across Santa Barbara County help parents and children heal from their traumatic pasts. CALM Chief Executive Officer Alana Walczak gave a moving presentation about the importance of being there and being leaders for our community’s most vulnerable people. Jennifer Freed, PhD, co-founder of AHA! (a local nonprofit committed to transforming the world by empowering teens to create peaceful and connected communities), was the keynote speaker, focusing on mindfulness practices.

CALM was founded in 1970 to reach stressed parents before they hurt their children. CALM continues to be the only nonprofit agency in Santa Barbara County focusing solely on preventing, assessing, and treating child abuse and family violence through comprehensive, cutting-edge programs. CALM offers children, families, and adults a safe, non-judgmental, caring, and strength-based environment to heal and increase family well being. For more information about all of CALM’s services, please call 805/965-2376, or visit

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on November 11, 2016.

CALM Celebrates 30 Years of Celebrity Authors and Unforgettable Stories

Frances Schultz will be interviewed at CALM's annual Celebrity Author's Luncheon, photo by Tiffany Evitts.

Frances Schultz will be interviewed at CALM’s annual Celebrity Author’s Luncheon, photo by Tiffany Evitts.

Always one of our favorite literary and philanthropic events, the CALM Auxiliary‘s  30th Annual Celebrity Authors Luncheon on April 2 is a benefit for CALM’s (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) vital programs across the county that help prevent child abuse and treat children and families who have suffered from violence and abuse.

This year’s event features interviews and book signings by a variety of critically acclaimed writers, including Meg Waite Clayton, Gregg Hurwitz, and Frances Schultz (featured on the cover of Santa Barbara Seasonscurrent spring 2016 issue).

The event, which starts with book sales and signings at 10 a.m. at The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort (633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.), also includes a lunch (11:45 a.m.) and author interviews (12:45 p.m.) with Clayton, Hurwitz and Schultz.

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Meg Waite Clayton is the author of five novels, including The Race for Paris and The Wednesday Sisters, one of Entertainment Weekly‘s 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time. Her first novel, The Language of Light, was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (now the PEN/Bellwether). She’s written for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Runner’s World and public radio, often on the subject of the particular challenges women face. Clayton’s new novel was 15 years in the making and inspired by real women journalists who defied military regulations and gender barriers to report on WWII.

Meg Waite Clayton will be interviewed at CALM's annual Celebrity Author's Luncheon, courtesy photo.

Meg Waite Clayton will be interviewed at CALM’s annual Celebrity Author’s Luncheon, courtesy photo.

Gregg Hurwitz is the New York Times bestselling author of 15 thrillers, most recently, Orphan X. His novels have been shortlisted for numerous literary awards, graced top ten lists, and been translated into 26 languages. He is also a New York Times bestselling comic book writer, having penned stories for Marvel (Wolverine, Punisher) and DC (Batman, Penguin). Additionally, he’s written screenplays for or sold spec scripts to many of the major studios, and written, developed, and produced television for various networks.

Frances Schultz, journalist, tastemaker, world traveler, hostess, Southerner, Sunday painter, and outdoors lover, is an enthusiast on decoration and design, food and entertaining, travel and style. She is author and co-author of several books, including The Bee Cottage Story—How I Made a Muddle of Things and Decorated My Way Back to Happiness. A contributing editor to House Beautiful magazine and former editor-at-large for Veranda, she has also written for The Wall Street Journal, Town & Country, Indagare and The New York Social Diary. She was the on-air host for six years of the award-winning cable television show Southern Living Presents and has appeared on The Today Show, The Nate Berkus Show, CNN’s Open House and many others. With husband Tom Dittmer, dog Stella, assorted horses and critters, she lives in the Santa Ynez Valley with visits to Manhattan and summers at Bee Cottage in East Hampton.

Andrew Firestone is serving once again as Master of Ceremonies. Hank Phillippi Ryan, an interviewed author at last year’s luncheon, returns to the stage this year alongside Tom Weitzel, to interview the 2016 celebrity authors.

Greg Hurwitz will be interviewed at CALM's annual Celebrity Author's Luncheon, courtesy photo.

Greg Hurwitz will be interviewed at CALM’s annual Celebrity Author’s Luncheon, courtesy photo.

In addition to the interviewed authors, these authors will also attend the event and be available for book signing:

Melissa Broughton, Cowboy Dad: Love, Alcoholism, and a Dying Way of Life

Jane Coleman, Life Is All About Range

Lydia Edwards, Odyssey of Innocents

Margarita Fairbanks, Valentino, The Love Bunny

Jeff Farrell, My Olympic Story, Rome 1960

Lisa Guadagno, The Lucky Ones

Dana Kent, Brussels to Beirut to Bali: The 1958 World Travels of Four Girls in a Second-Hand Chevy

Peggy O’Toole, Then I Won’t Seem So Far Away

Chris Messner, Cuba Open From the Inside, Travels in the Forbidden Land

Tracy Shawn, The Grace of Crows

M.L. VanBlaricum, Reflections in a Boomer’s Eye

Ernie WithamWhere Are Pat and Ernie Now? A Santa Barbara Couple’s Humorous Travel Adventures

“The CALM Auxiliary is very proud to have hosted such a wonderful community event for 30 years. We have been so lucky to have had some of the greatest authors donate their time and talent, all the while supporting CALM’s important cause. The entire Auxiliary has been behind this project from the start and we couldn’t do our job without every one of them. We feel fortunate to be involved and are proud to help CALM in its mission to protect children and families from abuse,” say event co-chairs Becky Cohn and Carolyn Gillio.

For tickets and event information, please call 805/969-5590 or click here.  All ticket proceeds and a percentage of book sales will benefit CALM, the only nonprofit in Santa Barbara County focused solely on preventing and treating child abuse. CALM was founded in 1970 to reach stressed parents before they hurt their children.  CALM continues to be the only nonprofit agency in Santa Barbara County focusing solely on preventing, assessing, and treating child abuse and family violence through comprehensive, cutting-edge programs.  CALM offers children, families, and adults a safe, non-judgmental, caring, and strength-based environment to heal and increase family well-being.  For more information about all of CALM’s services, please call 805/965-2376 or visit

Leslie Dinaberg

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on March 22, 2016.

Videos From CALM’s 29th Annual Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon

CALM-logoCALM’s (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) 29th Annual Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon last weekend was, as always, a rousing success, thanks in large part to the hard work of co-chairs Becky Cohn and Carolyn Gillio.

A tear-jerking video presentation brought the work that CALM does in the community to the forefront of the luncheon–to prevent, assess, and treat child abuse by providing comprehensive, services for children and their families–inspiring the approximately 500 supporters at the luncheon to dig deep into their pockets to help abused children.

Then it was on to the main show, where retired KEYT anchor Debby Davison and Tom Weitzel interviewed an interesting panel of authors, including Cindy Chupack (The Longest Date: Life as a Wife, Sex & the City), Andrew Marlowe (Castle, Derrick Storm series) and Hank Phillippi Ryan (The Other Woman) . Here are some snippets from the event.

For more information about CALM, visit Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on March 17, 2015.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Lynn Montgomery

Lynn Montgomery (courtesy photo)

Lynn Montgomery (courtesy photo)

Children’s book author sees the beauty in every opportunity.

Award-winning documentary producer and television writer Lynn Montgomery
recently turned her talents to Butt Ugly, a children’s picture book that tells the
story of a loveable little green mutt who needs a home. Not only does this heart-
warming story teach children important lessons about self-esteem, the book was
printed in a 100% green manner.

Leslie Dinaberg: How did you go from writing television to writing your book, “Butt

Lynn Montgomery: When I was writing television I was working 100 hours a week and didn’t
have children … I stayed in television for about 10 years, the amount of money
that they give you to write for television is obscene. And I was never doing it
really for the money, I was doing it because I loved to write and I loved to write
more than I loved to get all this money, so eventually the love of writing went out
for me in television and I decided that I would just write features and continue
with writing some books that I had started.

LD: So you’re working on both picture books and young adult books. Are they all

LM: Well I have a comedic voice. … My goal is to make you laugh and make you
cry and if I accomplish both of those then I am really happy.

LD: How did you decide to incorporate the green aspects into the book?

LM: I have always been passionate about the environment. … In writing a
children’s book, this was an opportunity to make it as green as possible. The
story is for children that is an uplifting important story about self-esteem with the
name-calling, but also is a way to educate the children about the environment
and about recycling. This book is made 100% recycled- the paper is 100%
recycled, the paper is not bleached, so it doesn’t produce any dioxins in the
bleaching processing, … most ink is petroleum-based ink, this ink is vegetable
based ink and then I even was able to go a step further. It was printed in the U.S.
because most four-color children’s books … the vast majority of four-color
children’s books are printed in Asia, in Singapore and China, and there are no
environmental standards. Ancient forests being cut down to print children’s books
where we tell stories about preserving the environment. It makes no sense to me.
So this was printed in the U.S. and it was printed by a printer in St. Louis that
runs on wind power.

LD: Wow.

1117-Butt_Ugly-540LM: I just did as much research as I possibly could to find out how could I make
this as green as green can be. … Then after the book was printed, I found out
about this new wonderful organization called Eco Libris … it’s a tree offset
company … when you make a contribution to them a tree will be planted in a
developing company. … So not only is the book green and no trees were cut
down to create this book, but also trees are being planted if you buy this

LD: That’s great. That’s really a nice give back.

LM: So you can feel good about buying the book.

LD: How does that pencil out in terms of the cost of the book?

LM: It’s twice as expensive to publish a book this way, but we have to start. I’m
not going to make a lot of money on this book, but what I’m trying to do is start a
conversation within the publishing world.

LD: And you are also donating some money from the book to CALM.

LM: Yes, some of the proceeds are going to CALM. I used to be on the board of
CALM … also some of the proceeds will go to animal rescue

LD: Are you working on another children’s book?

LM: Yes, there’s another on in the series which is called Butt Ugly Love, he falls
in love with the most beautiful dog he every saw. She’s absolutely perfect and
he’s smitten at first sight. It’s about true love and you find out on the last page as
they are strutting off into the sunset that she only has three legs. Of course he
never saw that and it didn’t matter he’s in love and she’s perfect she’s

LD: That’s very sweet.

LM: … Then there’s a third in the series,Butt Uglier, and that’s of course when
they have puppies. And then that’s it.

LD: So where are you with the books?

LM: Butt Ugly Love will be out around Christmas 09, the story is written and the
illustrator is working on the illustrations and right now she’s at the point of trying
to conceptualize what this beautiful dog that he falls in love with will look like.

LD: Is the illustrator someone you had a connection to?

LM: The illustrator is Terrie Redding, she was from Santa Barbara and she
moved to Dallas, Texas a couple of years ago. … Then my husband does all the
coloration and then the layout. I had no idea what a huge aspect of book
publishing art direction would be.

LD: What’s your husband’s name?

LM: Richard Kriegler. He is an Art Director, Matte Painter and Concept Artist and
he’s done scores of movies, and children’s films, he’s done Stuart Little and
Pinocchio and Thomas and the Magic Railroad and he also did Contact and
What Dreams May Come.

LD: That was a beautiful looking movie.

LM: What Dreams May Come, what inspired him, he did the concept work for
that movie, and do you remember the art that he disappeared into? Those were
inspired by Richard’s paintings that are hanging in our house.

LD: Oh, those are gorgeous.

LM: So I always say thank goodness I’m married to Richard because otherwise I
never would have been able to afford him … He’s also the art director for one of
the top selling videos games in the world. So I tell him that this is his penance he
has to pay for taking children away from reading, he has to art direct all of my
children’s books.

LD: How long have you been in town?

LM: We’ve been here going on 11 years. I first moved here, our big entree into
Santa Barbara, this big old run down house that had been on the market for four
years, I think. And then when we bought it somebody told me about CALM and
how they do the designer showcase house. And we had done houses before and
renovated them but never one quite this large and never one where we had two
small children. Hannah was six months old at the time. So we put the house up
to be a design showcase house … so it’s like we came into town and opened our
home to thousands of people. So I am always running into people that say, “Oh
yeah, do you still have that train bed in your son’s room?” (Laughs) Everybody in
town has been in our house.

LD: What else do you do when you’re not working?

LM: Well I love to garden, I love to go on walks through beautiful Santa Barbara,
and I mean we’re so lucky to live here. I explore areas up the coast, I love to
hike. To take care of my chickens. I love to watch the chickens in the garden. I
always feel like I’m looking at an old painting, just watching the chickens walk
through and free range in the garden, it’s so beautiful and peaceful. I think it must
lower your blood pressure.

… I’m always working on some cause. Right now it’s to the send the fifth graders
at Roosevelt to Astronomy Camp. … We need to raise $15,000 to send the kids,
and I happened to raise my hand at the meeting and said I’ll take that

LD: It’s supposed to be a great camp.

LM: … Our fundraiser is going to be a Chicken Coop Tour, Loupe de Coop on
March 22.

LD: That sounds really fun.

Vital Stats: Lynn Montgomery

Born: Upland, CA, on April 24th

Family: Husband Richard Kriegler; daughter Hannah, 10; and son Austin,

Civic Involvement: CALM, Roosevelt School, Pearl Chase Society

Professional Accomplishments: Won a Writer’s Guild Award Adapting Mrs. Piggle
Wiggle for Showtime and Universal; won an LA Emmy award for writing and
producing a documentary that dealt with the failures of the child abuse protective
system in Los Angeles; produced a 100% green children’s four-color children’s
picture book, Butt Ugly.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, It was
wonderful for getting inside the head of a dog; there are some chapters in there
that I will re-read many times in my life, but they’ll always make me cry.”

Little-Known Fact: “I have never had a beer in my life, but I love wine.”

Originally published in Noozhawk on November 16, 2008. Click here to read it.

Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down with Cecilia Rodriguez

Anna Kokotovic, left, former executive director of CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Mediation), gave new Executive Director Cecilia Rodriguez her start with the organization more than 20 years ago. (Jennifer Guess photo)

Anna Kokotovic, left, former executive director of CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Mediation), gave new Executive Director Cecilia Rodriguez her start with the organization more than 20 years ago. (Jennifer Guess photo)

Starting as a volunteer in 1984, CALM‘s (Child Abuse Listening & Mediation) new Executive Director Cecilia Rodriguez has proven her passion for protecting children from abuse. Now she wants to focus on prevention, reaching out to young families to help break the cycle of abuse.

Leslie Dinaberg: So you started as a volunteer at CALM?

Cecilia Rodriguez: Yes, when my own children were very little and I was trying to get away from my life as a full time mom. I wanted to be able to talk about something more than diapers and baby stuff, which is fine but when I got involved here at CALM as a volunteer, within minutes I realized that this was what I would do for the rest of my life. That’s why I warn volunteers when they come here, I say “beware this agency has a way of grabbing you.” The mission is just so compelling and we’re protecting the most vulnerable in our community and helping families to grow and change and break the cycle of abuse.

LD: So you went graduate school and became a marriage and family therapist.

CR: Yes and Dr. Anna Kokotovic, the executive director at the time, offered me a position doing intensive in-home therapy, doing treatment at people’s homes, in the streets, in schools. Wherever families hung out, that’s where I hung out.

… The wonderful thing about in-home work is that you really get a much clearer picture of what’s going on than you do when they come to the office. You rely here on what they tell you, but when you go there and you see the conditions that they are living under, the stressors that they are facing, the challenges, and the poverty. Then you realize that some of the things we innocently ask people to do in their homes are just not possible. So we have to adapt it so that it’s something that really will work for them.

LD: How willing are people to have this kind of an intervention of people coming into their homes?

CR: I am always so humbled–and I’m going to start crying because I always cry about this–that people trust us enough to allow us to come into their home. I am always so touched by that, and it just shows you the level of distress that they’re in, or they are seeking so much, they want support.

LD: What programs are you emphasizing now?

CR: … My focus now, as executive director, is to focus more on prevention than on trying to repair the problem after it has occurred. With teenagers it would be so much better not to get to that place. That’s why we’re really emphasizing preschool, emphasizing preschool aged children aged 0 to 5, the younger the better. And it’s not the children we’re focusing on, it’s the parents so that we can support them to be better families, to listen to their children to be supported themselves. You know, a lot of parents haven’t been supported, didn’t get optimum family situations and so they just repeat what was done. If in their family they were raised in a really punitive family environment, they will tend to do the same thing unless we can intervene. … We try to target young families, even before they have their babies. We get referrals from obstetricians and pediatricians and the Public Health Department when there are certain risk factors and then we begin working with them on bonding and attachment issues from day one.

…We have a whole team of home visitors called Great Beginnings, and they are the ones that go to homes of the very young children.

LD: You have a lot of different programs and a lot of things going on, but what is your perception of the needs of Santa Barbara County versus what you’re able to provide.

CR: Well, there’s always more need than we’re able to provide and again, the need is I think, because I’ve been doing this for a lot of years, and I’m tired of coming in after the fact when abuse has happened and then we react by wrapping our CALM services around the family. That’s why I want to focus on support and prevention efforts, teaching parents how to be better parents and families how to be there for one another. There are so many stressors in families’ lives these days and it’s getting even more challenging now, financial stressors, our economy, that’s adding another, and our families have always been stressed in that way because we work often with families of lower social economic class, so it’s always challenging for them, but then it’s even more challenging now.

LD: Obviously, there are people that have higher risk backgrounds than others, but in some ways everybody has that potential to go too far.

CR: Right. We all have the capacity to abuse given a certain set of circumstances, given certain life stressors I think we can, like you say, cross the line or lose sight of what we’re supposed to do with our children.

LD: In addition to earlier, is there anything else that you feel like is a shift from what’s been done in the past?

CR: Support for preschools. That’s also where I see that children who are experiencing neglect or are growing up in stressful situations where they are exposed to domestic violence, they are not ready to learn; they’re not ready for kindergarten. You know kids are getting kicked out of preschool, this is shocking to me … If you can’t make it in preschool oh my gosh. But you know, when kids are aggressive that’s an automatic “we can’t deal with you here” because they hurt other children. And not every preschool does that, kicks kids out, but there are some, and we see kids here who can’t make it in preschool setting. It is sad. So what we’re doing is we’re partnering with, for instance, Storyteller, and we’re offering support to children and the teachers so that we can help these children to be successful so they’re ready on day one in kindergarten they are ready to learn.

LD: That’s really important.

CR: Yes because what happens if they’re not ready and they’re disruptive from day one they get tagged, you know these kids they get tagged, even in preschool, as the problem kids and they’re going to be problem, problem, problem and they’re going to fail in school.

LD: That’s really sad.

CR: This is a great fact that I uncovered the other day. Do you know that our volunteers provide us with 10,000 hours a year of volunteer time? We have volunteers provide childcare. What our families tell us is one of the most helpful things that we do. When they come here for an appointment they can bring their kids and the kids will be taken care of.

LD: When you’re not working what do you like to do?

CR: I am a total gym rat. I’m an exercise junkie. I go to the Goleta Valley Athletic Club. What’s really important about this work is that it can be very stressful work, of course, you can take a lot home with you, and self-care is very important and I try to model that for the staff. We really stress the importance of when you’re not here when you’re not working, surrounding yourself with beauty, with culture, with laughter, good books, whatever it is that feeds your soul, that’s what you need to do when you’re not here.

So I work out because I’m a fanatic about it, just because it makes me feel good, and also I’m a gardener, My garden is my pride and joy. I love my garden so I’m always out there in my garden. And I have a really solid family, which also helps.

Vital Stats: Cecilia Rodriguez

Born: Los Angeles, November 25, 1957

Family: Husband Bob Stanley; two grown children, Tom who lives in Bellingham, WA, and Clare, who lives in Granada, Spain.

Professional Accomplishments: Art Teacher at Marymount in the 1970s, staff member at CALM for more than 22 years.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

Little-Known Fact: “I love Cheetos. That is my junk food of choice. About every six months I have a Cheetos attack and I just totally give into it.”

Originally published in Noozhawk in September 2008. Click here to read the story on that site.

CALM’s 22nd Annual Celebrity Author’s Luncheon

CALM-logoCALM’s (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) 22nd Annual Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon last weekend was, as always, a rousing success, thanks in large part to the dynamic duo of Sharon Bifano and Stephanie Ortale, who have co-chaired the event every year since its inception in 1987.

Board president Meredith Scott gave a lovely tribute to retiring executive director Anna M. Kokotovic, PhD. That, along with a moving video presentation produced by Surf Media Communications, brought the work that CALM does in the community to the forefront of the luncheon–to prevent, assess, and treat child abuse by providing comprehensive, services for children and their families–inspiring the approximately 500 supporters at the luncheon to dig deep into their pockets to help abused children.

Retired KEYT anchor Debby Davison and Borders Books’ Kate Schwab interviewed an interesting panel of authors: Lisa See (Peony in Love), Andrew Klavan (Damnation Street), Deborah Rodriguez (Kabul Beauty School) and Gary David Goldberg (Sit, Ubu, Sit).

See’s book follows the lives of two young Chinese women in remote 19th century China. Her comparison of the tortures of female foot binding to the “plastic boobs” of today’s women (“they’re both painful things done to women as status symbols for men”) had the mostly female crowd in stitches.

When asked about the vivid characters he creates, Klavan said, “I really enjoy the fact that people are immensely different.” Another vivid character was Rodriguez herself, a hairdresser from Michigan who went to Afghanistan as a relief worker and ended up training Afghan women to do modern beauty treatments. “I mean Taliban are but this perm was really bad too,” said Rodriguez, describing the woman who inspired her to start the Kabul Beauty School.

“I couldn’t believe that you could make a living doing what I got to do,” said (Family Ties and (Spin City creator Goldberg, who spoke about writing a memoir about his life as a television writer/producer.

They joined the ranks of more than 70 authors interviewed over the years, including Sue Grafton, Jane Russell, Barnaby Conrad, Michael Crichton, Julia Child, Ray Bradbury, Fanny Flagg, Maria Shriver and Jonathan Winters.

In addition to purchasing books by the interviewed authors (with a portion of the proceeds going to CALM), authors Mindy Bingham, Polly Bookwalter, Joe Bruzzese, Jack Canfield, Kathryn Cushman, William Davis, Karen Finell, David Gersh, Beverly Jackson, Susan Jorgensen, Jennie Nash, Katie Nuanes, Sissy Taran and Flavia Weedn were also on hand to sign books and donate part of the proceeds to CALM.

For more information about CALM, visit

Originally published in Noozhawk on March 12, 2008.

Lionesses of Winter

They Take Pride in Giving Back

It takes passion, money and a lot of hard work for Santa Barbara’s most treasured nonprofit organizations to thrive. This community tradition of giving back by supporting education, caring for those in need, and sharing a love for nature and the arts has an incredibly generous cast of leading ladies at its helm. Not content to simply be the torchbearers, they are also keeping an eye toward the next generation of the philanthropic community.

“I’m trying to spread the circle,” says Shirley Ann Hurley. “I’ve brought young women into my life who care passionately about these sorts of things that I do and they stimulate me and …I love the excitement that is getting to know all of these wonderful people.”

Let’s meet a few of the women who help keep the community alive and well.

The Leading Ladies

Betty Hatch

La Belle Foundation, Granada Theatre, Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Hospice, CAMA, Cottage Hospital, Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Art Association, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Ballet

“My life has been dedicated to the teaching of self-esteem,” says Hatch, founder of La Belle Modeling Agency (1963-1991), and now executive director of the La Belle Foundation, which offers young women free training in self-esteem, self-development and personal and social responsibility.”

“Giving to the community is just a pleasure; it’s a demonstration of our gratitude and our love for everybody here.”

Shirley Ann Hurley
Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Family Service Agency, Santa Barbara Public Education Foundation, CALM, Anti-Defamation League, Santa Barbara Foundation

“The things I’ve wanted to spend my time on are the things that help children and young people become the best that they can be, which means to live up to their full potential … The organization that I have probably put the most years into and time is the Family Service Agency. The concept that we could intervene early in a child’s life and with that child’s family and help them raise a more secure child was what hooked me.”

“People keep saying what do you do for fun. I said everything. All of this is fun. And it is. It’s work, but it’s fun. There’s nothing I like better than working with a group of deeply caring people. It is so exciting. And the fact that you know that together you can make a difference in somebody’s lives and your community is just such a reward.”

Gerd Jordano
Cottage Hospital Building Campaign, Westmont College Foundation, CALM

“Board members are ambassadors for those organizations. They are sort of cheerleaders and are able to sort of talk and share what that organization is and what it’s all about. It’s really an opportunity to educate people about that organization and that gives me great joy to share my passion and my knowledge about that particular organization.”

“I’m a former cheerleader so I continue that same passion, only I’m just not jumping up and down anymore (laughs). But I do get very passionate about what I get involved with and it just brings me a lot of joy.”

Carol Palladini
Santa Barbara Women’s Fund

“The concept of the Santa Barbara Women’s Fund (which will have given away more than $1 million by the end of the year) is making your time and money most effectively used by a lot of women writing checks and putting them together and doing direct fundraising, so that you’re not spending a lot of money to make money… Our umbrella is giving in support of the greater Santa Barbara area; it has to be local, to benefit unmet needs for women, children and families.”

“A lot of the work that I’ve done in the past, on and off boards, has some Heartache mixed in with the joy of it. This has been a pleasure from the beginning.”

Joanne Rapp
Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, CALM, Cottage Hospital, Botanic Gardens, Laguna Cottages, Montecito Community Foundation

“I have enjoyed working with organizations that are targeted at helping youth with their educational goals, in particular the Scholarship Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation student loan program. Everything that you work on and within the nonprofit community enhances the quality of life and the effectiveness of our community, but helping the students transfers anywhere. … It will strengthen the fabric of whatever community that they land in.”

The Next Generation

Tiffany Foster
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, Howard School, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Lotusland, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families

“When I arrived in Santa Barbara four years ago … it seemed that every fabulous, intelligent person I met was volunteering for either Storyteller or Lotusland. Before I knew it I was in the center of a vibrant group of caring women and men who dedicated their energy, financial resources, and business acumen to help make a difference in our local community.”

“Storyteller Children’s Center provides daycare and preschool to homeless toddlers in Santa Barbara as well as support services for their families. Young children deserve security, safety and a stable environment. … It is difficult to find a more worthy cause.”

Kisa Heyer
Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, Crane Country Day School, Storyteller, Lobero Theatre, Sarah House, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, CAMA

“Even after being involved with Lotusland for so long, I’m still amazed by it–not only with its collections, design, architecture, and programs–but also with the story behind the garden. Madame Ganna Walska’s wonderland is such a benefit to our community. It’s magical to see joy that children (all 4th graders visit) and adults express after visiting the garden, and no surprise, really, that we are becoming world-renowned as a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Jill Levinson
Lotusland, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of SB, Storyteller, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Lobero Theatre, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families.

“I think everyone has a need for hospice care for themselves or their loved ones at some point in their life. I just feel like it’s very important to support these organizations because they’re necessary. If they disappeared that would be a travesty for our community. Our community is so fortunate to have so much to offer everyone. I think that’s part of what’s really special about Santa Barbara, it tries to take care of people.”

Laura Shelburne
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Stanford University, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ I spent a number of years practicing corporate law, working around the clock during the Silicon Valley boom, and I always regretted that I didn’t have enough time to do worthwhile pro bono work. While I was one of those oxymoronic happy lawyers, I have to say that now it is wonderful to be able to choose my own “clients” based on causes I believe in and use my skills and experience to help non-profits. I also feel strongly that I should set an example for my children by doing things for others and for institutions that will outlast us and continue to benefit future generations.

Lisa Wolf
Santa Barbara Ballet, CAMA, Storyteller, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Zoo, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, French Heritage Society, Laguna Blanca

“We started a group at the art museum because we had a feeling that the art museum was reaching out really effectively to kids in town, elementary school students and underprivileged kids and it was also a great resource for very very serious art collectors, but there was nothing in the middle. … So we created this group called SMART families (and it’s Santa Barbara Museum of Art, not that we think we’re especially bright) but a really wonderful group.”

“When you know that you’ve helped make it possible for somebody to attend a program or for somebody to be exposed to opera or some great cultural moment, or to just alleviate human suffering, it’s a great privilege to be able to do it.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine, 2007

CALM Author’s Lunch Serves Up Food for Thought

Greg Behrendt (He’s Just Not That Into You), Joyce Dudley (Santa Barbara County Senior Prosecutor and author of (Justice Served), Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club), Harley Jane Kozak ((Dating is Murder), Helie Lee ((The Absence of Sun) and Robert K. Tanenbaum ((Hoax) will join the ranks of the more than 70 authors who have informed, amused and moved Santa Barbara audiences for the past 18 years at the annual CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon.

About 800 people are expected to attend this year’s event, which will be held on March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.

Co-chairwoman Sharon Bifano said she was originally inspired almost 20 years ago, by Erma Bombeck’s Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon, to benefit the Kidney Association in Scottsdale, Arizona. When she moved to Santa Barbara and found out that CALM was looking for a new fundraiser, Bifano and co-chairwoman Stephanie Ortale stepped up to create CALM’s first Annual Authors’ Luncheon in 1987.

Unlike many philanthropic events, which pass the chairman’s responsibility on every year, Bifano and Ortale have managed to stick with the author’s lunch, as a team, since the very beginning.

While Bifano said, with a twinkle in her eye, that, “it hasn’t gotten easier,” the income and prestige have grown each year, along with the receipts. “We had 198 people at the first one,” she said. “I think we made about $200.”

Today, at $100 per ticket, the event routinely sells out.

“The success is really a compliment to Sharon and Stephanie,” said Marty Silverman, the CALM Auxiliary’s Second Vice President.

“It’s been a real learning experience,” said Bifano, who credits the late Paul Lazarus with the idea to use a lively interview format with the authors, rather than simply have them make speeches, as many events do.

KEYT anchor Debby Davison and Borders Books’ Kate Schwab will keep the proceedings dynamic, asking the authors questions about the writing process, their inspirations and even their personal lives.

Over the years some of the authors interviewed have included: Sue Grafton, Jane Russell, Barnaby Conrad, Michael Crichton, Julia Child, Ray Bradbury, Fanny Flagg, Maria Shriver and Jonathan Winters.

While big names help fill seats and raise money for the child abuse, sexual abuse and incest services and programs at CALM, Bifano cautions that the “best known celebrity is not always the best interview.” She cites “the two boys who own Three Dog Bakery” (Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff, authors of All-Natural Paw-Lickin Treats for Your Dog and the Three Dog Bakery Cookbook) as among the most entertaining interviews in past years. Another favorite was Iris Chang (The Rape of Nanking). “After the interview all of her books were sold.”

While helping a good cause motivates the authors, as does the chance to spend a weekend in Santa Barbara, Bifano said, “Most people come because we sell a lot of books.”

In addition to purchasing books by the interviewed authors (with a portion of the proceeds going to CALM), the following authors will also be available for book signing: Susan Branch, Jack Canfield (who will also serve as master of ceremonies), Deanna Moreau Cohen, Alan Glasser, Erin Graffy, Valerie Hobbs, Karen Langley, Ann Marie Parisi, Donal Sweeney, M.D. and Flavia Weedn.

Tickets are $100 and are available by calling 682.3925. For more information about CALM, visit

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on February 24, 2005.

CALM Design House Showcases View

The first thing that strikes you is the view. Not only can you see the forest through the trees, but the ocean glimmers invitingly through the oaks as well. Talk about a perfect canvas. Architect William Harrison took full advantage of the prime property in creating this spectacular Montecito showhouse to benefit CALM.

Harrison described the house as mission revival with a heavy arts and crafts influence, but there’s really only one word for the property at 610 Cima Vista Lane — gorgeous.

For 20 years, CALM has raised money locally for child abuse prevention and assistance services through design showcases. “This is a departure for us, our homes in the past have had different designers in each room,” said CALM Development Director Rebecca J. Adler.

While the long-established form of showhouse fundraisers have been very popular and will continue in 2005, this was an offer the nonprofit couldn’t refuse. Traditional Home Magazine, which does showhouses across the country, had paired with Harrison Design Associates to produce the home in Montecito as an editorial feature when they approached CALM about being the charity beneficiary. “It was really exciting to hear about … the scale and grandeur of this project for us. And also to call the other charities who Traditional Home had participated with, they all said, ‘this is the best thing that’s every happened to us,'” said Adler.

Built around a nine-acre protected oak tree conservancy, the house is impressive for its serene beauty and its feeling of being at one with the land, which is even more impressive considering it was built and furnished to perfection in just one year.

“All of the players here are equally as important,” said Robert Young, west coast editor of Traditional Home. “… You have Harrison (Design Associates) who’s the architect and they also are the developer, and Giffin and Crane is the contractor, CALM is the charity, then Barry Dixon is the (interior) designer and Katie O’Reilly Rogers is the landscape architect. … We gave over 100 percent and 200 percent and they’ve delivered. Everybody’s just been extraordinary and everybody’s enjoyed working on it.”

“There was good clear concise direction on this job at all times,” said Geoff Crane president and COO of the builder, Giffin and Crane. “In a project like this, everything has to fall into place at once. The landscaping had to start at a time it wouldn’t normally be starting. As soon as we had an area that we could confine and barricade off (they started) excavation and grading and planting. It was a little unconventional,” said Crane, who credited his Project Manager Lindsey Adams with keeping construction running smoothly.

With the tight schedule, one of the biggest challenges was scheduling. Visitors to the showcase will enter the house through a charming green and white motor court, surrounded by white camellias, white azalea, field grown boxwood and in the center of it all a white cyclamen tree. “We had to crane in this big tree before they finished the arch,” said landscape architect Rogers. “The tree wasn’t ready to be brought up for three weeks and they had to get the arch up because of the stonemason’s schedule.”

“The stone on the side of the house is literally from the land,” said Young. “These are all hand carved from these big boulders that came from Santa Barbara sandstone.” Once you enter the house, the feeling of indoor/outdoor fusion continues, thanks in part to the well-designed windows that maximize the views, and also to Dixon’s extremely textural, almost primal choices. “I think Barry took … this concept of earth, wind and fire and kind of just being inspired by the elements … that are here in Santa Barbara … everything that makes it such a magical place,” said Young.

The master bath’s oversized shower features very unusual glass tile by Walker Zanger, tumbled to look like sea glass. You could get waterlogged trying to choose between that and the dazzling ocean view spa tub. The walls are done in Venetian plaster burnished to a gorgeous glossiness that has to be seen to be believed. “People that come here are seeing the cutting edge products for the home and then they see it used in really creative ways,” said Young.

A favorite room of the architect’s is the outdoor sitting/dining relaxing space overlooking the pool. “You can sit there and watch the sunset over the harbor. Like a little pier or point outside of the house, then, walk outside of that little narrow gangplank and there’s a wonderful view back up into the mountains,” said Harrison.

Also contributing to the serene, peaceful feeling is the yoga/massage room adjacent to a ground floor wine cellar, dining area and screening/game room. “The yoga/massage room is kind of a Zen thing in California,” said Harrison, who has offices in both Atlanta and Santa Barbara. “But we’re seeing it all over the country. … People wanting to have the ability to sort of meditate and relax.”

Under designer Dixon’s touch, clever ideas, juxtapositions of old and new, eastern and western cultures and design inspiration abound. “A showhouse is like a fashion show,” said Young. And this is certainly one show you won’t want to miss.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on February 19, 2004.