Changing Lives Together: Joyce Dudley to Keynote Women’s Fund Site Visit

Joyce Dudley, courtesy photo

Joyce Dudley, courtesy photo

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara will host a Site Visit Kick-Off on Thursday, October 29 from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church (21 E. Constance Ave., Santa Barbara).  This annual event features progress reports from the seven local nonprofits that received Women’s Fund grants this past spring: Children’s Resource and Referral, Community Action Commission, Conflict Solutions Center, Mental Wellness Center, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Sarah House and Transition House.

In addition to representatives from the nonprofits, for the first time there will be a keynote speaker at the event—Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley.

 “Joyce knows that prevention and early intervention strategies are key to changing lives,” said Women’s Fund Chair Nancy Harter.  “For more than a decade, the Women’s Fund has researched and funded local programs with those same strategies.”

 While there is a $20 fee for Women’s Fund members to help defray costs, the event is open to guests free of charge. A reception will follow at 5:30 p.m.

 For more information and to register, go to the Women’s Fund website at

 After the October 29 Kick-Off, Women’s Fund members and guests will have the opportunity to sign up for small-group visits to the seven 2015 grantees to see first-hand how Women’s Fund grants are changing lives.  The small-group visits will be available on a first-come basis between November and February.

Donating more than $5.1 million to the local community since 2004, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara is an all-volunteer collective donor group that enables women to combine their charitable dollars into significant grants focused on the critical needs of women, children and families in south Santa Barbara County.  The Women’s Fund has grown from 68 members in 2004 to nearly 700 in 2015.

 —Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on October 27, 2015

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.