Noozhawk Talks: Santa Barbara Writers Blend Talents, Wine Experiences

For Reka Badger, left, and Cheryl Crabtree, writing the California Directory of Fine Wineries was a labor of love — and red wine.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

For Reka Badger, left, and Cheryl Crabtree, writing the California Directory of Fine Wineries was a labor of love — and red wine. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Leslie Dinaberg: The California Directory of Fine Wineries book is quite lovely and takes you on a journey through 58 wineries in Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. How did you decide which wineries to include?Cheryl Crabtree: (Our editor) Tom Silberkleit picked them.LD: Do you know how he picked them?Reka Badger: He tasted all over the place.

CC: He researched heavily.

RB: He chose them for the wine and the quality of the destination.

CC: It had to have a double package … these were destination travel pieces more than wine experiences. He definitely did his homework.

LD: Both of you have written extensively about wine. Tell me about some favorites you discovered in the course of writing the book.

RB: I thought Whalebone’s wines were really good. There was something about knowing their stories that added such a dimension to tasting the wine, too. The guy who owns Whalebone, Bob Simpson, was an obstetrician, and he lost his fingers in a hunting accident and had to do something else. He got involved with vineyards by doing something that was similar to what he did as a doctor, using equipment. They were raising cattle, as well, so they were already kind of farmer types. Then he planted some vineyards and grapes. He’s so devoted to farming … and I liked their wines.

I thought Calcareous Vineyard was a wonderful story — those two sisters (Dana Brown and Erika Messer), and I thought the wines were really nice. Those Zinfandels really showed what you could do with zin. Their pinot … there really is pinot up there in the right spot. I could go on and on.

LD:: What about you, Cheryl? Did you have any discoveries?

CC: I did discover probably one of the best wineries here, Kenneth Volk Vineyards.

LD: Really?

CC: Kenneth Volk is a pioneer in the wine business. He started Wild Horse Winery up in Templeton. He was one of the first and he’s very academic.

RB: He loves to talk about it. He loves to tell you about it.

CC: He’s a scientist, but he loves experimentation. What happened with Wild Horse is, it got a little too big for him and he wanted to return to making just the wines he really wanted to make and experiment with. He’s got 16 or 20 different wines. Some are really unusual ones, from really unusual varietals. Those wines were really good. I loved seeing how much he loves to get his hands dirty and experiment. It’s like a kid with a chemistry kit.

LD: Is this book something people would use to map out their wine-tasting destinations?

RB: It gives a series of really good starting points. I think the purpose is to get people out there, give them an idea of what they might find, and then from there, they can do their own exploring. It’s not a comprehensive guide, but it can point you to some of your favorites and to some that you don’t know.

CC: And to make it seem accessible, because a lot of people who don’t come from California especially think, oh, it’s only for connoisseurs. But that’s not the case at all. The photos really show that. Just normal people learning about wine in a very informal, casual way.

LD: Let’s say, for example, Reka: Where would you take a friend from out of town if you were to go wine tasting?

RB: That’s a really tough one. I would want them to stay five days and we would go to five different regions.

LD:: Really?

RB: Yes. Because there’s a lot of driving involved in the western Paso Robles area, near Whalebone. Vina Robles emerged full-blown from the soil with all of this stacked stone and expensive state-of-the-art stuff, which I steer clear of usually. They usually look too fancy for me, but it was a fabulous experience.

Where we would go would depend on whether we were going to taste some wine or we were going to stop and have a picnic. L’Adventure is at the end of the road. It’s this crazy French guy (Stephen Asseo) who didn’t want to be restricted to the Bordeaux requirements for blending. He wanted to develop blends around cabernets, so he came over here and bought that property. It’s an adventure just getting there. If you want to take a ride and see some country, I would want to go out there. If it’s a short time, I would go someplace a little closer. If there’s no time at all, go down to downtown Paso Robles and just do the downtown.

CC: Same thing, downtown Solvang and downtown Santa Barbara, the Urban Wine Trail. If you have little time, I would focus on those because you can still taste some great wines and walk.

LD: Do you guys have a favorite wine? You mentioned you like reds, Reka.

RB: I do, but depending on the weather and what I’m doing and the time of day. Mornings I prefer champagne, definitely. Late afternoon hot, I love a real crisp rose; I really like the roses a lot, but I do like a red.

LD: What about you, Cheryl?

CC: Pinot Noir. There are several great Pinot Noirs from the Santa Rita Hills. Those are stellar. Kris Curran; anything she touches is wonderful. And she is married to Bruno D’Alfonso, who was (the winemaker) at Sanford for a long time. They now have their own label, D’Alfonso-Curran Wines, but she also is the winemaker for Foley. She works wonders; it doesn’t matter who she’s working for, just find Kris Curran. And she and Bruno have a tasting room in Solvang, too.

LD: I’ll have to remember that.

CC: She is incredible. And so is Bruno. They are, he’s a pioneer also. They helped pave the way. He was the one who crafted Sanford wines for years. But my favorite is Alma Rosa Chardonnay. That’s what we always buy.

RB: Is it pretty affordable?

CC: It’s $11.99 at Costco.

LD: Where’s your favorite place to enjoy a glass of wine?

RB: I have a zero gravity chair, and I sit out on the patio and I kick my feet up and that’s about it. How about you, Cheryl?

CC: Well, I haven’t gotten out much except to my patio, but if I could my favorite view is Ellwood Bluffs. But I’m not sure you can bring wine up there.

RB: Well, if you’re discreet. (Laughs)

CC: That’s where I would go if I had the time. Anywhere with a view around here is not hard to find. Have you ever been to Clautiere Vineyard in Paso Robles? The tasting room has wigs and you put the different wigs on and be whoever you are, wander around the grounds with these wigs and it’s like a French cabaret.

LD: What a hoot. I’ve never heard of that.

RB: You know winemakers are all eccentrics, really.

CC: They really are.

LD: The other part of this is I ask you two a few questions about yourselves. So, Reka, what else do you like to do when you’re not working?

RB: One of my favorite things is to dig holes and plant things. I love to get out there with a shovel and a hat and dig holes and plant. I’m an irrepressible gardener. I love to read, I love to swim, I like to travel but I don’t get to do enough of that now. When the wine runs out I like a nice cold Bombay Martini straight up.

CC: If I had time I would have a list of things that I used to do.

RB: What’s at the top of the list?

CC: Travel. I love to walk the dog and enjoy Santa Barbara. All of these wonderful open spaces that we have. We’re so lucky to be able to have that. Every day we can go to the Douglas Preserve or Hendry’s Beach or the Bluffs or the burned-out trails, but they’re kind of fun still; it’s unusual. It’s a different look but it’s interesting. Also, recently I’ve begun to really like watching water polo.

RB: Isn’t it weird to be interviewed? It’s very strange to be on the other side.

CC: Yeah, it’s peculiar.

LD: If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?

RB: Gorgeous, confident, wealthy. Put that.

CC: You can think of those for us.

RB: Yeah, just look at us. Curious, driven; those are the only two I can think of.

CC: Stubborn, persistent.

RB: I think we’re going to go with two adjectives each since there are two of us.

Vital Stats: Cheryl Crabtree

Born: July 21, in ancient times, San Francisco

Family: Husband Chris; sons Cameron, 15, and Colin, 10; Lightning the Jack Russell terrier and cats Pepper and Lorraine

Civic Involvement: Hope School District Educational Foundation, volunteer for kids’ sports teams

Professional Accomplishments: BA Stanford University with Honors in humanities and comparative literature; graduate studies in comparative literature at New York University. Moved to Santa Barbara in 1983 to work for EF (Education First). “When the headquarters (and my writing job) moved to Boston in the late ‘80s, I decided to freelance until I found a ‘real’ job. Two decades later, I still don’t have a real job, but I’ve written tons of things.” This includes co-authoring the first edition of The Insider’s Guide to Santa Barbara; working for Fodor’s Travel Publications updating the Central Coast and Monterey Bay chapters in Fodor’s California guidebook since 2001; co-authoring Hometown Santa Barbara (with Noozhawk’s Leslie Dinaberg and Zak Klobucher, and Nancy Ransohoff and Starshine Roshell) and co-authoring California Directory of Fine Wineries. Story editor/writer Montecito Magazine, writer for Santa Barbara Seasons/Custom Media and writer for the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau’s new Santa Barbara visitor’s magazine.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness by Lisa M. Hamilton; Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson; The Little Book by Selden Edwards

Little-Known Fact “I spent a year in Norway as a high school exchange student and speak Norwegian. Heia Norge!”

Vital Stats: K. Reka Badger

Born: June 12, midcentury last, in Monterey Park

Family: Married 21 years to Jon Budac; two cats and a ball-crazy whippet

Civic Involvement: Creston Garden Club, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, former board member Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association

Professional Accomplishments: BA in cultural anthropology from UCSB. “I have worked a lot of different jobs, including driving a cab, making documentary films, building models for an animator, painting houses, writing celebrity bios and managing winery tasting rooms. Currently, I write weekly wine, food and garden-related columns (for the Santa Barbara News-Press and the Santa Maria Sun), and consider the publication of this book a landmark accomplishment.”

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett; Mother of Pearl, by Melinda Haynes; The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck

Little-Known Fact: “I managed a little copy kiosk at the edge of the UCSB campus way back when and was among Kinko’s first handful of employees.”

Originally published on on August 2, 2009.

Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Grants $460,000 to Seven Local Nonprofits

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara awarded grants to seven local nonprofits represented by, front row from left, Fran Forman of the Community Action Commission, Kristine Schwarz of New Beginnings Counseling Center and Kathleen Baushke of Transition House; back row from left, Debbie McQuade of Sarah House, Michelle Graham of the Children’s Resource & Referral, Lizzie Rodriguez of Conflict Solutions Center and Annmarie Cameron of the Mental Wellness Center. Courtesy Women's Fund of SB.

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara awarded grants to seven local nonprofits represented by, front row from left, Fran Forman of the Community Action Commission, Kristine Schwarz of New Beginnings Counseling Center and Kathleen Baushke of Transition House; back row from left, Debbie McQuade of Sarah House, Michelle Graham of the Children’s Resource & Referral, Lizzie Rodriguez of Conflict Solutions Center and Annmarie Cameron of the Mental Wellness Center. Courtesy Women’s Fund of SB.

Seven local nonprofits received a total of $460,000 in grants from the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara on Monday afternoon at the Montecito Country Club, bringing the organization’s total contributions to the community, since it began in 2004, to more than $5.1 million.

“The Women’s Fund is an all-volunteer organization based on a simple, creative model — women combining our charitable donations so we can make a larger impact in the community than most of us are able to do on our own,” Women’s Fund co-chair Sallie Coughlin said. “We give large grants, frequently for programs that wouldn’t be funded by others. We are flexible — funding startups, established proven programs and capital projects — and we look for ways to leverage our investments. Our grants allow agencies to dream big and achieve those dreams.”

Local nonprofit organizations receiving awards were Children’s Resource & Referral, the Community Action Commission, the Conflict Solutions Center, the Mental Wellness Center, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Sarah House and Transition House.

Accepting the first grant of the day was Michelle Graham, executive director of Children’s Resource & Referral. The agency received $80,000 to increase the number of child-care spaces in new, women-owned family child-care businesses.

“Tragically, there is a critical shortage of child care in our community,” Graham said. “Since 2008, Santa Barbara has lost 300 child-care spaces, primarily in family-based child-care homes. Children’s Resource & Referral has an exceptional program to recruit and train providers and increase the quality of family-based child-care programs. This grant will give us the opportunity to aggressively recruit new providers. We are confident that in one year we can regain two-thirds of the spaces lost over the last seven years, which means there will be 200 new, high-quality child-care spaces for local children.”

Fran Forman, executive director of the Community Action Commission, accepted a donation of $80,000 for the Healthy Seniors Lunch program, which will serve more than 600 low-income and disabled seniors in the coming year.

“This funding will prevent senior hunger and provide a safety net to those who need it most,” Forman said. “Each day, our chefs prepare meals that are served in senior centers and directly delivered to the homes of seniors who are unable to shop or cook for themselves. Most Healthy Senior Lunch clients live on less than $16,000 per year. Without these meals, seniors report that they would need to choose between eating, paying rent or buying medicine. In most cases, for our clients at home, our drivers are the only visitor for the day.”

Lizzie Rodriguez, executive director of the Conflict Solutions Center, accepted a grant of $60,000 to launch a restorative justice program as an alternative to juvenile incarceration.

“The traditional method of addressing juvenile crime is punishment, isolation and shaming,” Rodriguez said. “Most people who move through the experience do not find it healing or satisfying. Victims often feel revictimized and their need for justice is unmet. … This method has been repeatedly proven to be unsuccessful. However, a restorative approach to addressing the harm caused by juvenile crime is profoundly impactful. A restorative approach operates from a belief that the path to justice lies in problem solving and healing rather than punitive isolation. Through a restorative process, juvenile offenders understand the impact their behaviors have on themselves, their families and their community. Young offenders are able to take responsibility for their actions and begin to understand and value their relationship with others.”

Accepting a $60,000 grant to fund the establishment of peer-to-peer support groups for families dealing with early onset teen mental illness was Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center.

“With this generous funding from the Women’s Fund, families of teens and young adults … will have early access to a safe and compassionate community, emotional support and information about available treatment,” she said. “They will find reason to have hope about their family’s future, despite a diagnosis of mental illness in their family.”

New Beginnings Counseling Center received $80,000 to assist individuals and families living in their vehicles.

“New Beginnings serves over 2,000 families and individuals in the county of Santa Barbara,” Executive Director Kristine Schwarz said. “We serve those most fragile in our community including the homeless, people with severe and persistent mental illness, domestic violence victims, the elderly, veterans and many more. The funds that we have been awarded today will allow our Safe Parking Program to continue providing overnight shelter for families and individuals who live in their cars. In addition, your contributions will go directly towards transitioning our clients back into permanent and sustainable housing.”

Executive Director Debbie McQuade accepted a $50,000 grant for Sarah House to deliver hospice care to low-income individuals suffering terminal illnesses. The grant funds the equivalent of one caregiver position for one year in the residential care facility.

The final grant of the day went to Transition House, for $50,000 to install air conditioning and sound proofing in the family homeless shelter.

“We know we ask a lot of the families in our program,” Executive Director Kathleen Baushke said. “Over the three or four months they are with us, parents are expected to find jobs, take anti-poverty classes, and work with their case managers on creating — and sticking to — monthly budgets and savings plans. Children are encouraged to keep up with their schoolwork and do their best to behave in an unfamiliar environment. By the end of their stay, successful residents have solid employment, money saved for a security deposit, and life skills that will allow them maintain their housing long-term. We work with the children in hopes that they experience minimal negative impacts due to experiencing homelessness.

“While it is up to the parents to do the hard work of returning to permanent housing, it is our job to provide the best environment to facilitate their success. Given that shelter residents are already experiencing significant stress due to being homeless, we want to create an environment that is as low-stress as possible by reducing excessive noise and heat. With the help of the Women’s Fund, Transition House will be better able to support families in attaining permanent housing.”

Women’s Fund co-chair Nancy Harter concluded the event, stating, “What a huge moment for all Women’s Fund members and grantees — and for our guests. We come together to celebrate our year-long efforts as a community of smart and informed givers. I applaud each and every one of you for investing in the shared vision that together we have much more strength and clout as philanthropists than we do on our own.”

Laurie Tumbler and Christine Riesenfeld were the research committee co-chairs for 2014-15, and Stina Hans chaired the event.

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.

Originally published on Noozhawk on May 6, 2015.

Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Celebrates Grants in Action

Annual site visit allows members to hear firsthand how their recent contributions totaling $550,000 are helping local nonprofits

Members of the Women's Fund board Santa Barbara Airbus on their way to visit nonprofit grant recipients. (Women's Fund of Santa Barbara photo)

Members of the Women’s Fund board Santa Barbara Airbus on their way to visit nonprofit grant recipients. (Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara photo)

The mood was particularly festive at the 10th annual Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara site visit on Wednesday as more than 200 members of the organization were greeted with the news that founder Carol Palladini had received the prestigious Woman of the Year Award from the Santa Barbara Foundation and Noozhawk the day before.

Guests were also uplifted to see and hear what their most recent $550,000 in grants was doing to help the community.

The Santa Barbara Public Library hosted the annual site visit gathering, which included tours of three nonprofit facilities — Peoples’ Self Help Housing, Youth Interactive Santa Barbara and the Single Parent Achievement Program at Santa Barbara City College — as well as presentations by representatives from Casa Esperanza, Domestic Violence Solutions, the Legal Aid Foundation, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Posse Program (Opening Doors to College) and Storyteller Children’s Center.

Together, these nine charities comprise the most recent recipients of 64 grants totaling $4.7 million to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since the fund began in 2004.

“Our annual site visit is the best way to understand the work the Women’s Fund does,” Steering Committee co-chair Nancy Harter said. “And it’s an opportunity to connect us to some of the things that matter most — friends, new and old, and to our collective efforts that impact community. For a decade our members have combined their charitable dollars to make large donations in the community — more than most of us could accomplish on our own.

“We’ll be able to visit some of these grantees and see how they deliver services. Other grantees will make presentations on the progress of their grant. We’ll be able to ask questions about the effectiveness of our giving. And we’ll be able draw connections between words on a ballot and real people — those delivering services and those receiving them. My hope is that this site visit affords all of us a rich opportunity to sharpen our skills as strategic philanthropists.”

Traveling via Santa Barbara Airbus, the day included a stop at Peoples’ Self Help Housing’s site in Carpinteria, which received a $50,000 grant to use for after-school/summer educational enhancement for children of low-income families.

Rochelle Rose, Peoples’ fund development director, explained that the money was used for a program called YEEP, which stands for Youth Education Enhancement Program. YEEP is open after school every day in seven centers.

“These hours are structured,” Rose explained, “one hour for homework completion, one hour for physical activity and recreation and healthy snack, and one hour for educational enhancement — with a special project in math, science, art, music, community service or social studies. Thanks to support like yours, we are able to provide this program to over 300 children a day.”

Rev. Mark Asman of Casa Esperanza, Women's Fund photo

Rev. Mark Asman of Casa Esperanza, Women’s Fund photo

The next stop was the Single Parent Achievement Program at Santa Barbara City College, which received a $90,000 grant for child-care support for low-income single mothers to allow them to attend college.

Chelsea Lancaster, EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs Student Program advisor and a former single-parent student, offered her thanks: “My mother said, ‘You can either struggle for a few years while you’re in school or struggle for the rest of your life without an education. The choice is yours.’ I’m glad I chose wisely!”

Youth Interactive Santa Barbara’s executive director and founder, Nathalie Gensac, gave an overview and tour of the nonprofit, to which the Women’s Fund granted $60,000 for entrepreneurial and job skills programs for underserved youth.

Calling the grant “transformational,” Gensac said, “It is literally because of your gift that I am proud to say that we are here today reaching unbelievable new heights. We followed your grant with a fundraiser concert hosted by Michael McDonald. He is now a huge supporter of Youth Interactive and personally donated $20,000 after the concert, other new grants have flowed in, too. We have now raised another $70,000 since May. All our students have access to the best artists and entrepreneurs in town, who teach them vocational skills, financial literacy and business skills.”

Back at the library were several additional presentations by grant recipients.

The Rev. Mark Asman, board president of Casa Esperanza, which received $50,000 for shelter and support to transition women out of homelessness, shared the story of Angela, who was born and raised in Santa Barbara.

“She had never experienced homelessness until her mother died and she began to fall on hard times,” he said. “Angela arrived at Casa Esperanza in June. She was 23 weeks pregnant. Because of her condition, Angela was given priority to stay at Casa and placed in one of our special-needs beds.”

Angela was matched with volunteers from the new “Navigator” program, paid for by the Women’s Fund grant.

“Over the months that Angela was with us, the volunteers helped to advocate on behalf of Angela for the courts … schedule prenatal visits along with attaining baby care items, etc.,” Asman said. “Angela recently gave birth to a healthy baby daughter and is now living with her and the baby’s father in affordable housing in Lompoc. I am confident that without the Navigator Program, Angela would not be where she is today. … Members of the Women’s Fund, thank you for your compassionate and strategic leadership.”

Bringing many in the audience to tears, Charles Anderson, executive director of Domestic Violence Solutions, began his presentation by playing a 9-1-1 call from a child witnessing violence.

“We know this is shocking,” he explained, “yet we work with children like this little girl and her family on a daily basis. Our DVS staff members are available to dispatch on 9-1-1 calls to assist law enforcement 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. During the previous 12 months, DVS staff has accompanied law enforcement officials on 655 of these domestic violence 9-1-1 emergency calls. We are the ‘first responders’ to many domestic violence situations. We responded to over 1,500 domestic violence crisis calls last year.”

The Women’s Fund gave DVS $50,000 to update the security system and the playground, which, as Anderson said, “Because of this most generous gift from the Women’s Fund, the children at DVS Santa Barbara have a safe, secure and inviting playground and security camera system where their mothers can take joy in watching their children thrive and grow.”

The Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara received a $75,000 grant for a domestic violence attorney for women and children, which, as family violence attorney Elizabeth Diaz explained, “was used to fund a second attorney … to assist victims of domestic violence, dependent adult abuse and elder abuse. Our services range from advice and counsel, to assistance with the preparation of legal documents, all the way up to representation in court proceedings.”

Speaking on behalf of the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center was Executive Director Elsa Granados: “Your generous grant ($50,000) supports in part a crisis intervention counselor and a long-term counselor … thus enabling the SBRCC to counsel an additional 98 victims of sexual assault per year.

“An important part of the healing process for survivors of sexual assault is to feel that they are believed and supported by their community. Many are reluctant to speak publicly about their experience out of fear that they will be judged and stigmatized. I thank you for creating a space where Liz Blackadar could speak about her experience.”

Blackadar shared a moving story of her more than 30-year journey to finally be able to call herself a “survivor of sexual abuse,” thanks in large part to the services from SBRCC.

Also speaking at the library was Jo Ann Caines, principal of La Cumbre Junior High — along with San Marcos High School Principal Ed Behrens and San Marcos senior Jose Campos — to share how the Women’s Fund grant of $75,000 to the Posse Program (Opening Doors to College) has impacted the more than 100 students in the group.

“One of the important components of the program is to provide mentors and tutors to the high school Posse students in the evening at La Cumbre,” Caines said. “Because of funding limitations, the tutorial, mentoring and collaboration aspects of the program used to begin in October for the students. They are enrolled in rigorous and accelerated academic classes, Honors and Advanced Placement classes, and they need support as soon as the school year begins.

“This year, the Women’s Fund grant enabled the Posse Program to begin the tutorial and mentoring opportunities and support to begin on Sept. 8 with full tutorials and mentors in place, as well as the textbooks needed for their respective classes that span four high school grade levels. The students attended in mass and expressed their appreciation for the early start. What a difference a month makes!”

On behalf of the Storyteller Children’s Center, which received $50,000 for a food program for low-income preschool children, Executive Director Terri Allison said: “Thank you so much for your support of our program. Storyteller Children’s Center serves 100 of the community’s most vulnerable children each year and serves close to 23,000 meals and snacks. Your support allows us to do our work every day … providing quality, tuition-free early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children, as well as comprehensive support services for their families.”

Sarah Stokes, Kate Winn-Rogers and Barbara Hauter Woodward were the event co-chairs, who offered special thanks to generous bus sponsors Santa Barbara Airbus, Ferguson Bath & Kitchen Gallery, Allen Construction and Montecito Treasures.

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.

This story was originally published in Noozhawk on October 10, 2014.

Steve Lyons and Carol Palladini Honored as Man and Woman of the Year

Carol Palladini was named Woman of the Year. Courtesy photo.

Carol Palladini was named Woman of the Year. Courtesy photo.

Hundreds of friends and supporters gathered at the Four Seasons Biltmore to recognize Steve Lyons and Carol Palladini for their long-standing commitment to volunteerism and the significant impact they have had throughout the community.

The awards were presented by Ron Gallo, president & CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “The landscape and sense of community we treasure in Santa Barbara was shaped to a great extent by the efforts of volunteers,” says Gallo. This year’s recipients of the Man & Woman of the Year award, Steve Lyons and Carol Palladini, continue this legacy of service. Their compassion and willingness to give back has touched the lives of thousands and clearly demonstrates the impact of committed volunteers.”

Lyons came to Santa Barbara with his family in the early 1980s. His local nonprofit involvement has included CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation), ADL (Anti-Defamation League), Family Service Agency (FSA), Cottage Hospital,  The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Laguna Blanca School, the Boys & Girls Club and AYSO, among others.

Steve Lyons was named Man of the Year.

Steve Lyons was named Man of the Year.

Palladini, who moved to Santa Barbara from Pasadena in 1996, has also been involved with a number of local nonprofits, including CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Rotary Club of Santa Barbara and Tres Condados Girl Scout Council. In 2004, she established the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, which has awarded grants totaling $4.7 million to 64 local nonprofit programs impacting more than 83,000 local women, children and families in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria.

The awards were presented by the Santa Barbara Foundation and Noozhawk, with special commendations by Mayor Helene Schneider and Rep. Lois Capps.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 8, 2014.

Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara Marks Decade of Changing Lives Together

The organization distributes $550,000 in grants to nine local nonprofits, with members’ contributions to date totaling $4.7 million

From left, Melissa Gough, Nancy Harter, Sallie Coughlin and Sarah Stokes at the Women's Fund's 10th annual Presentation of Funds Luncheon on Monday. Gough and Stokes chaired the luncheon, and Harter and Coughlin will co-chair the organization for 2014. (Peter de Tagyos photo)

From left, Melissa Gough, Nancy Harter, Sallie Coughlin and Sarah Stokes at the Women’s Fund’s 10th annual Presentation of Funds Luncheon on Monday. Gough and Stokes chaired the luncheon, and Harter and Coughlin will co-chair the organization for 2014. (Peter de Tagyos photo)

By Leslie Dinaberg, Noozhawk Contributing Writer |

The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara marked a decade of “changing lives together” at its 10th annual Presentation of Funds Luncheon on Monday, doling out $550,000 to support the work of nine local nonprofits. These new grants bring the total contributions by the Women’s Fund to the community to $4.7 million. “The Women’s Fund is proud to mark it first decade — 10 years of commitment to improving the lives of women, children and families in our community,” said Sallie Coughlin, Women’s Fund chairwoman. “The grants our members selected this year focus on two broad categories: programs that protect and nurture women and families in crisis, and programs that enrich and educate young children.”

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf were among the more than 300 people who gathered at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort for the event.

“The Women’s Fund is based on a simple, creative model — women combining our charitable donations so we can make a larger impact in the community than most of us would be able to do on our own,” Coughlin said. “Our grants are focused on programs that address the critical needs of women, children and families in southern Santa Barbara County.”

The organizations receiving funds include Casa Esperanza, Domestic Violence Solutions, the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, Posse Program: Opening Doors to College, SBCC’s Single Parent Achievement Program, the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Storyteller Children’s Center and Youth Interactive Santa Barbara.

“You can’t imagine the joy and satisfaction in assisting the most vulnerable of our population achieve a new level of self-sufficiency,” said Interim Executive Director Bob Bogle, accepting a $50,000 grant on behalf of Casa Esperanza. “(With this money), we will be able to provide funding for six beds for a year, dedicated to supporting the women of Santa Barbara County as they transition from homelessness to housing.”

A $50,000 grant also went to Domestic Violence Solutions to provide a security system upgrade and a safe playground surface for families who’ve faced domestic violence.

“The research suggests that the younger the child the greater the impact of trauma, which is why a safe playground and toys for children that have few words to express their fear can be therapeutic and even life changing,” Associate Executive Director Marsha Marcoe said.

Womens Fund

Women’s Fund founder Carol Palladini addresses Monday’s luncheon. (Peter de Tagyos photo)

Accepting a $75,000 grant to provide a domestic violence attorney for women and children was Saji Gunawardane, acting executive director for the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County.

He spoke eloquently, stating, “Know that when we say thank you for your support, we are saying much more. We are speaking for many of the most vulnerable and voiceless women, children and families in our community who, until they arrive at our door for help, have been completely voiceless. It is through your support that we can finally give these once-silent victims not only safety and zealous protection, but one of the most empowering gifts of all: A voice.”

John Fowler, the new president and CEO of Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, accepted a $50,000 grant from the Women’s Fund, which will provide after-school and summer educational enhancement programs for children of low-income families onsite at their affordable apartment complexes, where they will serve 120 kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

The Posse Program, an innovative collaboration between La Cumbre Junior High School and San Marcos High School, received an award for $75,000 for what La Cumbre Principal JoAnn Caines described as “a model program developed to support high achieving low income Latinos into high level classes in high school and through college. … The results from the first three years are beyond impressive: 100 percent passage of the high school exit exam in 10th grade by all of the Posse students, success in Honors and Advanced Placement classes where La Cumbre Latino students had been severely underrepresented, and successful students and future college graduates.”

San Marcos junior Jessica Zamora — a straight-A student with an impressive load of AP classes — shared her experiences as part of the first Posse group of 25 students who will apply to colleges next year: “You’re guaranteed to know someone in all of the hard AP classes, but we also all go together to La Cumbre after school every day and just work on our school work together, with City College students available and other mentors who are there to support us.”

“I think the main thing that is unique is having this set of students have their friends (their Posse) be in the same upper level classes with them,” San Marcos Principal Ed Behrens said. “One of the things that we heard before from the students is that they didn’t feel comfortable in the classes because they didn’t know anyone. So I think that it’s really making a big difference.”

An award of $90,000 went to SBCC’s Single Parent Achievement Program to provide child-care support for low-income single mothers allowing them to attend college. Vanessa Patterson, executive director of the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College, said, “On behalf of the single moms and their children whose lives are forever going to be changed because of your support, thank you!  You are their champions and are providing a gateway to higher education that will be the catalyst for lifting them and their children out of poverty and into a future of possibilities and opportunities most never even dreamed of.”

Elsa Granados, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, accepted a $50,000 grant that will be used to provide crisis intervention and long-term counseling services to victims of sexual assault, telling a very moving story about how the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center provides survivors with avenues to transform their lives after a traumatic experience.

Also receiving a $50,000 grant was Storyteller Children’s Center. Executive Director Terri Allison said the funds would be used to continue the nutrition program for 100 of the community’s most vulnerable children each year.

The final grant of the day was for $60,000 and went to Youth Interactive Santa Barbara to provide entrepreneurial and job skills programs for underserved youth.

President Nathalie Gensac explained, “We have started several micro businesses, which are great vehicles for our youth to learn how to be productive, understand the value of teamwork and the connection between hard work, the classroom and the rewards of business enterprise. We have now developed a successful formula, which empowers disengaged youth by allowing them to keep their profits. …It’s a formula that is starting to pay great dividends. We have helped high school dropouts return to school, we have transformed graffiti artists into responsible commissioned artists who have painted murals funded by the city and much more.  Before today we were at a crossroads with excellent results but still struggling for funds. Your grant is truly transformational.”

Incoming Women’s Fund co-chairwoman Nancy Harter ended the program with a vivid description of collective giving efforts from Ana Oliviera, President of the New York Women’s Foundation: “You are one grain of rice. You come together with other grains, and it becomes a bowl of rice, and that is how we feed.”

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara.

Originally published in Noozhawk on April 28, 2014.

Grants in Action: Women’s Fund Members Witness the Power of Their Collective Gifts

Ninth annual site visit highlights the work of local nonprofit organizations benefiting from $525,000 in contributions

Women's Fund members get a firsthand look at a Notes for Notes jam room at the Westside Boys & Girls Club during Thursday's annual site visits to grant recipients. (Peter De Tagyos photo)

Women’s Fund members get a firsthand look at a Notes for Notes jam room at the Westside Boys & Girls Club during Thursday’s annual site visits to grant recipients. (Peter De Tagyos photo)


It’s often said that seeing is believing, and that was certainly the case for more than 150 members of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara last Thursday as they toured local nonprofit agencies to see what their most recent $525,000 in grants were doing to help the community. The annual site visit included tours of three nonprofit facilities — Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara, Doctors Without Walls (Transition House) and the Westside Boys & Girls Club — as well as presentations by representatives from Future Leaders of America, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, Isla Vista Youth Projects, the Youth Violence Prevention Program and Women’s Economic Ventures.

Together these eight charities comprise the most recent recipients of 55 grants totaling $4,125,000 to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since the Women’s Fund began in 2004.

Always a highlight for members, this ninth annual site visit offered an opportunity for people to observe firsthand how their donations are making a crucial difference in their neighbor’s lives, as well as how powerful their individual gifts can become when they are part of a collective philanthropy group.

Traveling via Santa Barbara Airbus, the site visit included a stop at Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara, which received a $50,000 grant to use for emergency supplemental food and case management to aid low-income families in crisis.

Frank Bognar, regional director, says the facility serves approximately 8,500 people a year. Explaining the various services Catholic Charities offers — which include case management, food distribution, life skills planning, counseling services, operating the Thrifty Shopper store and providing vouchers to clients, medical treatment, grants and referrals, emergency shelter assistance, older adult services and holiday programs — Bognar said, “We try to both provide the fish and teach people how to fish.”

The next stop was the Westside Boys & Girls Club, which received a $75,000 grant for renovation and expansion of its clubhouse to create an educational resource center for teens and pre-teens.

Gina Carbajal, executive director of the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, explained that the group provides services to 7,000 children throughout the county, including about 200 per day at the Westside Club. The resource center donated by the Women’s Fund will provide students with a quiet learning space of their own, offering homework help and tutoring.

Development/grant specialist Donna Reeves gave an overview of a typical day at the Westside Boys & Girls Club.

“Getting homework done is the first priority,” she said, explaining that the children are given incentives to get their work done as well as assistance when they need it.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara was among three sites toured Thursday by members of the Women’s Fund. (Peter De Tagyos photo)

David Lee, regional director of Notes for Notes, an independent nonprofit that has a satellite studio at the club, also gave tours of a very impressive “jam room” where children receive free access to musical instruments, instruction and a recording studio.

The third site toured was Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine, which received a two-year Women’s Fund grant for a total of $50,000 for the Women’s Free Homeless Clinic to provide medical care and essential services to unsheltered and marginally sheltered women in a safe, female-only environment. The clinic is located at Transition House, where treasurer Marguerite Sanchez welcomed members.

“The mission of Doctors Without Walls-Santa Barbara Street Medicine is to provide free, volunteer medical care for the most vulnerable, underserved populations in Santa Barbara County, when and where they are in need,” she said. “(The clinic) serves a highly marginalized, at-risk population living in extreme poverty. Many of the women we treat have been victims of domestic violence as well assault, affecting their ability to take adequate care of themselves. … They live in parks, in cars, under freeways, on the beaches and the streets. Many more of our women live in the public shelter system where services have been dropped to an all-time low and sometimes the only hot meal they receive is the one provided at our clinic.”

A tasty sample of one of those hot meals was provided to Women’s Fund members by the Organic Soup Kitchen, which partners with Transition House and the women’s clinic to provide nutritious food. This year they anticipate serving 20,000 meals to needy people in the community, with a need for 30,000 meals anticipated in 2014.

The buses then went to the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club for additional presentations by grant recipients.

“The Women’s Fund site visit is part of the rigorous research process that ensures we have effective, creative programs and agencies from which to select when we cast our votes,” site visit chair Sarah Stokes said. “The progress of our grantees is then followed to confirm the money we’ve donated is being well spent. … Today, we have the opportunity to see firsthand the effective use of our collective funds and hear from the grantees how your money is being put to use and the work we are doing together to change the lives of women, children and families in our community.”

On behalf of Future Leaders of America, which received a $65,000 grant for leadership training and academic support for local high school students, program director Gabriela Rodriguez said, “Due in large part to Women’s Fund support, Future Leaders hosted a weeklong youth leadership camp for 95 new participants (64 of them from Southern Santa Barbara County) at Cal State Channel Islands. During the summer camp, Future Leaders works to create an environment where the ‘Impossible’ becomes the ‘I’m Possible.’ Students learn to effectively express their opinions and ideas, discuss their challenges and fears and develop the necessary skills to advocate for themselves at home, school and in their community.

“The youth we served this summer come from the most marginalized areas of our community. From Santa Barbara alone, 37 percent of the youth come from low and 53 percent come from extremely low-income families. More than one-third come from single-parent homes. This is only important to highlight because I can assure you that the lives we touched are the ones that need our support the most.”

As the recipient of a $50,000 grant to Girls Inc. of Carpinteria to fund Eureka!, which is a dropout prevention and college readiness program designed to encourage young girls to attend college and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, according to Executive Director Victoria Juarez.

“This summer, thanks to your investment in the Eureka! program, Girls Inc. Carpinteria sent 42 eighth- and ninth-grade girls to the UCSB campus, where they spent four weeks learning what it takes to succeed in higher education,” she said. “Many of them will be the first in their family to attend college, and we have had the honor to see them inspired, challenged and sometimes perplexed as they navigated an entirely new environment. They are all, without a doubt, much better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a college education.”

Board member Dr. Yoni Harris spoke on behalf of Isla Vista Youth Projects, which received $50,000 for capital funds to improve interior and exterior areas, including the playground at the Isla Vista Family Resource Center.

“As you all know, there is no shortage of nonprofit agencies or good causes in Santa Barbara,” Harris said. “The Youth Projects rises to the top of my priority list because of their commitment to an underserved community, depth and breadth of programming, passion of the staff and, most of all, the children and families who come through the door every day.

“The Women’s Fund grant has allowed us to make some much-needed capital and safety improvements to our Family Resource Center, which serves as the service hub for Isla Vista and Goleta families. Although not glamorous work, these improvements were certainly necessary work. The Youth Projects offers a continuum of programming beginning with babies, toddlers and preschoolers who attend the full-day year round Children’s Center. These same children later attend the after-school and summer program at Isla Vista school kindergarten through sixth grade. … Thank you again for your faith in our ability to make a difference in our small part of the county.”

Next up was Melissa Garcia from the Youth Violence Prevention Program, which received $85,000 to provide funding for a female outreach worker helping at-risk girls in Santa Barbara secondary schools.

“Females ages 12 to 19 are the fastest-growing segment in the youth corrections system, and locally, the number of girls entering the probation system has more than doubled over the past eight years,” she said.

Garcia works with about 40 eighth-grade and freshmen girls, with five to seven girls at each school site.

“I pull them out of class once a week, and we talk about different topics that they have chosen that they want to know more about — for example, domestic violence, teen dating, healthy relationships, trust, drug abuse, depression, anger control and better communication,” she said. “I have created a safe environment for these girls to open up. I thought it was going to take a few weeks before the girls really started to talk openly to me, but I was wrong. They want to tell someone what is going on in their lives. They want to be heard. They want someone to be there for them. They want someone to listen without judging them and to help them develop more positive strategies to deal with their situations.

“There is also a great need for us to empower these young women, because if we don’t, they might eventually drop out of school, get involved in unhealthy relationships, become addicted to drugs or even end up pregnant. … All of these young women that I work with have so much potential, and it is my job to help them realize just how much potential they have. Anything is possible in this world, and I am going to do whatever it takes for these girls to see that and start to believing in themselves.”

The final grant recipient was Marsha Bailey, founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures, which received a $100,000 Women’s Fund grant that established a micro-loan fund to assist low-income women in South Santa Barbara County start or expand their own businesses.

“WEV’s mission is to create an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women,” she said. “The fact is that the lack of financial resources restricts a woman’s freedom and choices. Period. The truth of this is still seen today: In 2010, only 14 percent of SBA loan dollars went to women. Undercapitalization is the most common reason for business failure. WEV created its Small Business Loan Fund to ensure that low- and moderate-income women could get the money they needed to invest in their businesses until they could become bankable — a process that usually takes at least three years.”

Bailey explained that the $100,000 from the Women’s Fund resulted in a matching grant from the Treasury Department CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution), in effect doubling the grant.

“In fact, Treasury matched the Women’s Fund grant plus $500,000,” Bailey said. “We thank you, the members of the Women’s Fund, that voted for our grant of $100,000. Know that you are helping change the path of poverty in Santa Barbara.”

Steering Committee chair Sallie Coughlin wrapped up the event: “I am happy to report that our membership contributions are on track for this year, which means that when we next meet — at the Presentation Awards, which will be on Monday, April 28 — we expect to award at least $500,000 in grants to local nonprofits.”

About the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara

The Women’s Fund is a collective donor group that has awarded 55 grants totaling $4,125,000 to local nonprofits in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria since it began in 2004. The concept is simple: Women’s Fund members pool their charitable donations, research critical community needs and then vote on which agencies will receive the funds collected during the year. The annual site visit is a midyear progress review that enables Women’s Fund members to see their gifts in action.

Click here for more information about the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, or call 805.963.1873.

Originally published on Noozhawk on October 21, 2013.

Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Gayle Beebe

Gayle Beebe, courtesy Westmont College

Gayle Beebe, courtesy Westmont College

When Gayle Beebe is inaugurated as the eighth president of Westmont College this weekend, he’ll speak on a subject dear to his heart: Global Education. But prior to that, he spoke to us about life at the college, his family, how he’s adapting to Santa Barbara, and Westmont’s facility upgrades.

LD: How did you end up in Santa Barbara?

GB: Years ago I was a consortium exchange student here … I really liked it and it really gave me a great vision for what my life could be. I never dreamed I would come back in this capacity, but quite a way down the road a position opened up. I was in a presidency at Spring Arbor University in Michigan. … I have always been kind of intrigued with Westmont, so it was just a great opportunity to serve others.

LD: Have you always felt you were called to academia?

GB: You know, not initially. I actually started out in ministry. I went to Princeton Theological Seminary after I was a student here and I was a pastor for five years …then did a dual degree in philosophy of religion and theology and business administration and strategic management at Claremont Graduate University.

… In 1992 I started working with Azusa Pacific University (as dean of the graduate school of theology) … that’s when I starting thinking academics and really enjoyed it a ton and then went from being a dean to being the president of Spring Arbor in 2000 and just enjoyed that kind of work.

LD: It’s interesting hearing about your background because it seems like a perfect fit for where you are now.

GB: Westmont has so many great strengths and first and foremost …it’s been a great experience, wonderful faculty, great students and a strong financial base. We need to strengthen the endowment but it’s strong. It’s a beautiful campus, with phase one construction coming, we’re excited to have an even more beautiful campus, great location, you know every constituent really loves Westmont. The community does, the board of trustees does, the alums do. … It’s just neat.

LD: So you’re in phase one of the construction?

GB: The beginning of that. We’re hoping to start construction this October and you know, there’s been litigation. We have a group that’s opposing us and we’re just working through all of that.

LD: Is it basically a facility upgrade as opposed to an expansion?

GB: We are not allowed to add any students. It is truly an effort to get a state-of-the-art campus. It’ll be marvelous but there is no interest, no conversation about raising the enrollment to above 1,200. I would like to long-term see us strengthen our global program because we have had some really unique distinct global programs and I’d just like to see us build those out more, but in terms of what happens in Montecito, we have 1,200 students.

LD: Assuming the lawsuit gets resolved, what visible changes will we be able to see on campus in the near future?

GB: We would like to get Adams Center for visual arts, our art program and studio. There will be a new chapel, the observatory, and a hall for math and science. Those will be additions. And then we’ll also be adding a dorm. We have a couple hundred students right now in triples and so we want to build an additional dorm so that we can have students housed in more conventional two to a room.

LD: Do all the students live here?

GB: Yes, they do. It’s one of our five planks in the mission statement … That residential piece I think is just so critical, it’s really important that the faculty live near the students so that they can have not just the contact during class but the informal contact with them away from class.

LD: Since you’ve taken over at the college, what’s been your biggest surprise so far?

GB: You know there’s no earth shattering surprises. The biggest surprise has been all of the conditions with phase one construction. I believe there are 116 conditions and it’s the way that they work out with each other. …They didn’t all get negotiated at once; they got negotiated over a seven-year period. I mean it’s a true act of perseverance that we got to this point.

LD: Do you have is there a facilities manager that oversees this?

GB: Yes, Randy Jones is our campus architect. The people who were here, Stan Gaede was the president and Ron Cronk was the VP of Finance. Ron really ran point on this and really shepherded it. Cliff Lundberg, the executive vice president has been deeply involved in it and Cliff is still here, and then my new VP of finance, Doug Jones, has really taken major responsibility for the operation of phase one. Doug came with me from Michigan. He’s just a brilliant, guy, great judgment, really hard worker.

LD: That’s a big project to take on.

GB: It is. We did a ton of building at Spring Arbor, we added 14 new buildings and remodeled 11 others and Doug oversaw all of those.

LD: Other than this the construction, what do you see as your biggest challenge?

GB: Every place has unique challenges and I think that there’s no reason to overreact … I think what we have to do is figure out how we’re going to space this so we have enough time to give us the biggest opportunity of raising the money we need and not for so long that one of the problems with building is you get inflation. If you don’t start building, eventually you lose so much from year to year that you will never catch up.

LD: It sounds like you’re very busy working, but what else do you like to do when you’re not working?

GB: Well I love being with my family, my children and being part of their sports and their academics, along with my wife. We enjoy going to the movies and I enjoy golfing. I enjoy going to the beach. … If I can find an excuse to drive Cabrillo along the beach from downtown I will, because I just love driving even that little stretch of East Beach. It’s just so inspiring.

LD: Is there sort of a first lady role for your wife at Westmont?

GB: There is and she helps and is the presence of the college at different events and on boards and committees. That hasn’t started in a huge way yet, but by the time we were done in Michigan that was a huge part of her job. I know her time here will continue to become more and more committed. It’s been great to have her more available this first year. She does a great job and to my benefit she just loves family and she’s great with people. People just love her and she’s great with them.

LD: If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?

GB: Energetic, fun loving and determined.

LD: If you could be invisible anywhere in Santa Barbara, where would you go and what would you do?

GB: I would probably go to East Beach and read a book

Vital Stats: Gayle Beebe

Born: Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon.

Family: Wife Pam; children Anna, age 15; Elizabeth (Liz), age 13; and Richard (Ricky), age 9.

Civic Involvement: The Channel Club, Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

Professional Accomplishments: President of Westmont College; former President of Spring Arbor University; former Dean of the graduate school of theology at Azusa Pacific University.

Little Known Fact: “I played the cello for seven years, I also play the piano.”

Originally published in Noozhawk on April 7, 2008

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Colette Hadley

Colette Hadley’s Commitment to Education Is All About Opportunity

For Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara director, the future begins now for the students she aims to help

Colette Hadley, Noozhawk photo

Colette Hadley, Noozhawk photo

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara’s services are needed now more than ever as the rising costs of college mean more and more families are looking for financial aid to help afford the expense.
Noozhawk’s Leslie Dinaberg caught up with executive director Colette Hadley to talk about her life, work and what it’s like to help students and their families pursue their educational dreams.

Leslie Dinaberg: How long have you been at the Scholarship
Foundation of Santa Barbara?

Colette Hadley: Seventeen years. I started here when I was 30
and I’m 47. The foundation and I, funnily enough, were born on the same day. May
29, 1962 was the first meeting of the scholarship foundation and that’s the same day
I was born.

LD: Fate.

CH: I like to think of that a little bit as the kinship between us.
I’ve been here a long time. I started out doing, interestingly enough, some event
management and then within a year moved into program management. We were
just a tiny group, there were like four employees. We’re still small but we were
really small.

LD: Did you come to Santa Barbara to do that or were you
already here?

CH: I’m a pretty planned person in life. … I actually had worked
at the University of California at the Irvine campus and then a little bit at the UCLA campus in student affairs, and I was just kind of looking for a change. … I really liked higher
education, working with students, but I really wanted to see more of the results of
what I was doing. I wanted to be a little more hands on. I loved my work there but …
I felt like I was like kind of a cog in a big university, which I was, so I wanted to do
something smaller. I specifically said I’m going to look for an educationally related
job, most likely a nonprofit.

… I had a friend from college living in Santa Barbara and we had kept in close touch.
She said, “why don’t you come check out Santa Barbara and stay with me for a
couple of weeks.” This was in 1992 and I said “there are no jobs in Santa Barbara,
everybody knows there are no jobs in Santa Barbara, and so I’ll just come and sit on
a beach.”

LD: And you found the job through a tiny newspaper ad.

CH: I sent them my resume and they called me. … I had this
interview scheduled at the University Club and they really hadn’t told me much about it. So I go into this little room at the University Club and there are eight people in this room and I’m thinking I was just going for a one-on-one interview. I go in, I just shook the sand out of my sandals and pulled on a skirt and put on a jacket … and I walked in this room and it was full
of very warm, smiling people. … I’m looking at people who are just big circles of
warmth. … So I sit down and they’re like we’re so glad to meet you and we’re so
excited and tell us about this and tell us about that and we just sat and had a
conversation and I just instantly liked them.

… I had been home five minutes and the phone rang and it’s Billie Mans (former
executive director) and she goes, “we loved you!” Nobody does that. They say, “Oh
we’d like you to come back for a second interview.” She’s like “we loved you come
back again. We want you to meet some more board members.”

So I go back again. I’m thinking geez these people really care. They have all these
board members and the staff and they really care.

LD: What a change from a huge university. Not that they don’t
care, but there are just so many layers.

CH: Basically I went back and they offered me a job. … I had to
decide whether I wanted to take a pretty significant pay cut. But the gut was I would
enjoy working with these people. We had nothing written down or anything but
they said I’m telling you within three years you’ll be back to what you were making
and beyond that. And we promise that if you decide you want to be here and you’re
committed and you do this job that we will be here for you and I just trusted them
and they did that.

LD: That’s great.

CH: Good people. So I had good mentoring with Billie and we
kind of grew along together and good mentoring with the board and you know since
that time we’ve been that way, 17 years later, and that’s why I’m still here.

LD: When did you become the executive director?

CH: Four years ago. I worked as the program director for quite a
long time and then as the associate director. … I’m very fortunate. I still think I have
probably the best job in town. Maybe me or Ron Gallo
(executive director of the Santa Barbara Foundation), I’m not sure. Maybe me.

LD: There are a lot of similarities actually.

CH: Yeah. He’s got a great board and we actually share some
people on the boards, so for me that’s the fun though. It’s great students and parents
and great board members and great staff but also really we have great donors. … It’s
something that keeps me very connected to my work.

LD: That’s great. Are most of the big supporters people who were
scholarship students at one point?

CH: Excellent question. I would say that at least half of them.
They all have a personal story … Some people have also said the opposite: they grew
up with a supportive family environment and they had the resources to send me to
college and they went to a phenomenal university and have then gone on to achieve
quite a bit in their life and then said you know what, I am really aware that there are
people out there that did not have that and it’s not an equal playing field. And so it’s
my obligation to help, that’s an attitude we run into, besides the people that say oh
yes, I couldn’t have gone if I didn’t have a scholarship.

… The stories are amazing and some of them you don’t know until years go by, and
you don’t know. So yes, that’s part of it too. I think it doesn’t matter what nonprofit
you work with or what you do. It’s about the stories. It’s about that. You probably
find that in your work too.

LD: Oh yes, it’s about the stories for sure.

CH: It’s the same thing with the parents of students, it’s their
stories, that’s really what it’s about is that connection. That’s why introducing
students or having them speak at something or tell their story, we can all find some
connection there.

LD: So is it tougher to get into college now?

CH: I will give you the stats I know. Basically the peak of the baby
boomlet, the kids of the baby boomers, was really this last year, so in sheer numbers
competing for seats, the peak was last year. It’s still high right now but it will start to
diminish. … Santa Barbara County, especially in the south county, our population of
high school seniors will start to slowly go down and so that’s happening all over the
country a little bit. So they will actually have a little less competition for seats in the
next couple of years.

However, what has offset that because we have such a bad budget situation is that
last year all of the UC’s and Cal States cut off spring transfers from community
colleges and they are all ratcheting back. Not only have they raised the fees almost
35 percent in 12 months but they also are ratcheting back the sizes of their classes
slowly. In terms of their enrollment management techniques, they are going to start
using wait lists this year at the UC’s, which is very tricky and very stressful. But yes
it’s actually for different reasons going to be just as challenging for the next couple
of years, but for different reasons.

LD: When you say ratcheting back the size of their classes do you
mean the freshman class?

CH: Yes, the number that will go through. That’s the UC’s and Cal
States. Private and independent institutions are actually right now-not the
Stanfords and the Ivies but the others-are actually a tiny bit more expansive right
now because there are students in the past year and a half particularly that have
turned away from those institutions, not because they don’t love them, but because
of the high cost … Community colleges of course are being hit by a tsunami of
students and all of them are cutting their sections. … With our student scholarship
recipients the program staff will tell you the number of students begging for
forbearance because they can’t get 12 units, they’re lucky if they get 11. They’re not
trying to get in, people think oh they don’t want to get an 8 o’clock class, they’re
trying to get anything. Any class.

… Even a few years ago they had a little more flexibility but now with calculus and
all of these things boom, you don’t get into it in the fall, you’re going to have to wait
a year. So that’s what’s affecting the students and it’s been dramatic. It has not been
a gradual change. It’s been huge this year and it’s going to get worse next year.

So getting in, still challenging. Staying in, getting what you need is probably the most
challenging that it’s ever been.

LD: That’s too bad.

CH: Yes, it is. When I hear the governor say and I believe this, he
actually came in touting education as his number one issue. I have mixed feelings
about him, as a lot of people do, but I actually believe personally it is a priority of his
but I just think that it’s just not the way our state is working right now. It’s just not
the way it is. We have a legislature that can’t agree on anything and he doesn’t really
have a lot of power with that. They are not putting education first.

LD: It’s so frustrating.

CH: It is. I think everybody is tired of that with our U.S. Congress
as well. … When I talk to colleagues who are running programs in Ohio and Virginia
and other places, everybody’s got something going on that’s affecting them.

LD: It’s nice to have those people to bounce ideas around with.

CH: … The beauty of being in an educational nonprofit is
whatever your politics are, and we have a large board, 40 people on our board, so I
spend a lot of time working with our board. But it doesn’t matter someone’s political
background. You can have people on your board that are on different ends of the
political spectrum, completely different ends, but providing educational
opportunities is a place where a lot of people come together. It’s a very cohesive
thing. Something that people rally around is helping students. Which is very much,
again, a positive feature of being here. I enjoy talking to those people of all different
opinions and backgrounds. I think that as tough as it is sometimes-and the last
year was tough, really tough-it’s pretty much relentlessly positive work.

LD: That’s really nice and probably why you’ve been able to be
here for the length of time that you have been.

CH: I totally agree. It’s must more challenging to be someplace
like our colleagues next door, we sublease part of our building to the Arthritis
Foundation. A great cause and yet it’s a longer-term goal. A scholarship, here’s a kid
you give them a scholarship they tell you what happened and they got their degree.

LD: That’s nice. So what else do you do when you’re not

CH: I’m big with books, so books, films; current events are big,
big, big for me. I read a lot of newspapers; … my family and my friends are a big part
of my life.

… I love talking. I don’t love arguing about current events but I like just talking about
what’s happening with people and I like to be around people that are engaged and if
they say “I don’t read a newspaper” they might be a really great person, but they’re
probably not going to be in my close, everyday network. I love the beach and I really
love California. I just like the different parts of the state. I like the mountains, I love
the beach … When you take a walk down at Ledbetter beach, there is no place you
can turn, 360 degrees, that you don’t see something of great beauty.

LD: That’s okay. If you could be invisible anywhere, where would
you go and what would you do?

CH: Oval office probably in the White House … I just think of that
process of what goes on in that office and how decisions are made. … I can’t imagine
the weight that person feels on their shoulders. There are days I feel it here and I’m
responsible for just this agency and the employees and students we’re responsible
to and the donors we’re responsible and then I think oh my God, can you imagine
being the president of the United States or somebody who really has
responsibilities, not just somebody running a little agency.

… Or maybe the International Space Station, I would pick that one too. Of course I
wouldn’t have to be invisible just to see what’s happening.

Vital Stats: Colette Hadley

Born: May 29, 1962, in Spokane Washington

Family: “I have six brothers and sisters and then a stepbrother
and a stepsister, so 9 kids in my family. They’re my favorite people. My mom died in
1980 and my dad is 83 and he is remarried to my step mom, she’s great.”

Civic Involvement: Planned Parenthood, CASA, Big Brothers, Big
Sisters and Cal Soap.

Professional Accomplishments: “As executive director of the
Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara I’m just doing my best to run the agency as
best I can and to do it with integrity and efficiency. And to try and take good care of
our clients and our donors and our staff and our board and try and juggle all of those
at the same time.”

Best Book You’ve Read Recently:Island: The Complete Stories” by Alistair

Favorite Local Spot: Ledbetter Beach, Arigato, Arnoldi’s or

Little-Known Fact: “I would secretly like to have a radio show.”


Originally published in Noozhawk on March 8, 2010. Read the article on that site here.

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg Sits Down With Michael Wyrsta

Michael Wyrsta at Opal Restaurant. Photo by Lara Cooper, Noozhawk.

Michael Wyrsta at Opal Restaurant. Photo by Lara Cooper, Noozhawk.

Attacking complicated problems is nothing new to chemist Michael Wyrsta. The
“Gaucho purebred”—who received both his BS and PhD at UCSB—lends his
considerable talents to developing vaccines, solar energy cells, green carbon
technology and eco-friendly building materials and making natural gas into
gasoline and green carbon technology. Now he’s turning his talents to creating
RND Vodka (, which hit the shelves of Santa Barbara restaurants and
retailers this summer.

Leslie Dinaberg: How on earth did you decide to start this vodka

Michael Wyrsta: (Laughs) That is a really good question. … I was in a liquor store
looking at all the stuff on the shelf and I thought it was pretty unfortunate that all
of the brands on the shelf were pretty much imports.

I mean the good stuff.

… I was like, “why don’t we have something up there that people like or …
people respect or just think that there is some kind of cachet to it?” … So then I
went to lunch with my friend Mark Collins and I said, “You know this is lame. We
should have our own great American vodka.”

He said, “Yeah we should, let’s do it.”

Seriously it was a snap decision.

LD: To try to do it on your own.

MW: Yeah. I wrote a check right there and we just started working on it.

LD: Wow.

MW: We didn’t know anything about making vodka at that time and then we
quickly learned about it. For me as a chemist it’s easy to understand the
chemistry part of it. … But in terms of how do you put a package together, how
do you do all of this stuff we had a lot of stumbling blocks in the

Then we got our art director, Kim Kavish involved and she’s great. … She really
helped right the ship and corrected a lot of the mistakes we’ve made in terms of
the design. Then there was a long process of licensing.

LD: So about a year ago you came up with the idea. Did you start developing the
product itself at the same time you started developing the

MW: Exactly. We have a distillery in Colorado that we worked on our formulation

… What we actually do is ferment our sugar source which comes from corn, and
then go the whole process, fermentation, distillation, purification. We use really
good Colorado Spring water. It’s really clean, it’s really pure and we do our own
filtration, so we do the whole process from grain to bottle.

Then it became a logistic thing. We had to develop the identity, develop the
formulation and then develop the logistics to support all that because we wanted
it to be a unique bottle.

LD: It’s definitely a unique shape. I can also see where this would stand out in a
bar. A lot of vodkas have really pretty designs but they’re just

MW: Exactly. They fade. We call that snoozing on the shelf.

LD: It seems like you’re getting a lot of recognition, including a piece in Sunset
Magazine, especially for how early in the process it is.

MW: Yes, we just launched end of July/early August.

LD: What part of your time is this endeavor?

MW: It does take a lot of my time right now … I have two other companies. A
CO2 company and I also am the CEO and president of a vaccine company up in
San Diego, so I have quite a bit of responsibility with that and I’m really busy.
That’s okay; I like doing all that stuff. For us it’s just something we have to do
until we get up to speed. My wife Inez and my best friend Lindy Lindstrom really
help a lot too.

LD: With high-end vodka is the push more on being in bars and restaurants
versus liquor stores and grocery stores?

MW: We have to be in all of them. We have to be everywhere basically because
they both support each other. … We are an ultra premium vodka, we’re
handmade, so we have more costs, we don’t do mega-scale, which a lot of
people do. So in that respect we’re focused on higher end stores, higher end
restaurants just because of the clientele.

It’s not different than a bottle of wine, if you get a good bottle of wine from Santa
Barbara it’s really expensive but you’re getting something that’s really high

I’m a scientist, so what I’d like to do is when this thing gets up to speed and we
get some real money coming in and profits, part of our goal is to donate some of
our profits to science education here in Santa Barbara.

LD: That’s great.

MW: Which would be probably through UC Santa Barbara or at that

LD: I was thinking about that because I do a lot of fundraising for the elementary
schools and I can see people objecting to donations from a liquor

MW: And that’s okay, I wouldn’t be against doing anonymous donation because I
understand there’s a perception issue and we wouldn’t want to be encouraging
kids to drink vodka at all. This is isn’t a 9 a.m. vodka; this is a high end sipping
vodka. We’re not promoting that lifestyle so if we were to go that route we would
definitely do something in a more low key, anonymous route.

But for me at least, science is really important and it is to the company too. In a
philosophical sense to us science is one of the few things that has been giving us
answers. We look to it when there is trouble. For example, whether or not it’s
global warming we’re looking towards a whole bunch of solutions but obviously
science plays a part in that. For example, look at the swine flu; we’re looking for a
vaccine to help us out or a drug. People to look to science for answers for really
discrete problems … it’s just sort of a way of thinking about problems and how to
solve them. It’s not about displacing any other belief system or a way of living just
taking stock on how we look at the world and addressing problems head on. I
think that’s important for us and if this is a vehicle to help do that, that’s

LD: Absolutely.

MW: If we can give something back that would be great. That’s how we’re trying
to position it and work it. I live here, Mark lives here, Kim lives here. … We’re
always supporting local events; we did the museum nights for example. We like
to support the arts too, we’ve done Santa Barbara Trustees and the Alumni
Association at UCSB, so we try to be involved in all that stuff.

LD: My best gauge of how good a vodka is, is usually how I feel the next day.
How does one tell a good vodka from a not so good one in terms of taste?

MW: For me-I’m not a heavy drinker and I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to
hard alcohol-so for me I wanted the smoothest, easiest drink of vodka because
ultimately if it’s going to go in a mix, or if you’re going to drink it straight, you want
it to be able to mix well with everything and you want to be able to drink it on the
rocks or with just a little bit of something.

… It has to be really smooth and it has to have a really low burn and really light
feeling … It’s an interesting spirit because it’s very neutral in a lot of ways but
what most people don’t notice there’s a harsh feeling, a burn with a lot of lower
end vodkas and that’s a function of what’s in it. There are other molecules that
are in vodka typically that produce that feeling.

We’ve come up with a formulation that allows up to have a smoother, lighter
feeling. Sunset Magazine recently described it as ethereal and that’s a good way
of describing it.

LD: You’re launching in Santa Barbara at a really good time. There’s this trend of
Farmer’s Market cocktails where people are using all of these fresh ingredients
and sort of the sweet with the sour with the savory, all of this kind of wild stuff
that is pretty new.

MW: I think it’s great. It follows that whole foodie trend so they want high quality
drinks with really fresh ingredients.

LD: I have the list of where it’s sold locally-Roy’s, Opal. Elements, Lazy Acres,
Gelson’s, Liquor and Wine Grotto and on and on. You must have a marketing
person that’s on that.

MW: It’s just me really.

LD: That’s a big job.

MW: Yeah, I know.

LD: How did you come up with the RND Vodka name?

MW: … RND fit a lot with my background in science and markets and also
funding science. It’s a play on research and development, clearly, but it’s also I
always thought it was cool because on your gearbox in a car it’s always RND,
reverse, neutral and drive. So I always thought that was a cool little thing with
both the science and the way you see it every day in your car.

… We wanted to make it a little bit more ambiguous versus just research and
development where you would use an ampersand typically. People might be able
to come up with their own names for it: Rebels Never Die, or Restores Natural
Desires. There are so many things that people have come up with, we have a
bunch of them on our Facebook site. (

LD: When you came here for college from Rochester, New York, did you think
you were going to stay?

MW: No. When I first got here for college I was like, “Oh my God where am I?” I
had no idea. It was a different universe. It took me a year to used to it. But then
you adapt. It is really different, I mean it’s almost like a different country, … but
once you figure it out it’s a great place-I love it.

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

MW: I love mountain biking; I surf if there’s surf. … I love the ocean and the
mountains so I take advantage of both of those.

LD: If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they

MW: Oh no. Three adjectives. Oh God. Busy, really busy. I also think I’m creative
and hopeful.

Vital Stats: Michael Wyrsta

Born: In Rochester, New York, July 6, 1974

Family: Wife Inez

Civic Involvement: Donates to a number of organizations including UCSB Alumni
Association, CALPIRG, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Acts of Love-Autism
Speaks and the Trustee Association of Santa Barbara.

Professional Accomplishments: Graduated from UCSB in 1996 with a BS in
Microbiology and received a PhD in Materials from UCSB in 2002. Chemist for
start-up ventures, including GRT, Inc, SBA Materials, and BioSolar, Inc;
President and Founder, RND Spirits, Inc.

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas

Little-Known Fact: “I’ll give you two. I went to a Jesuit High School and I had
long, blond dreadlocks right before I got my PhD.”

Originally published in Noozhawk on December 13, 2009. To read the article on that site click here.

Noozhawk Talks: Leslie Dinaberg sits down with Hap Freund

(Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

(Michelle J. Wong / Noozhawk photo)

Certainly the hardest working man in (local public access) television, the
Santa Barbara Channel’s executive director Hap Freund took some time
out of his busy day to talk media matters with Noozhawk’s Leslie

Leslie Dinaberg: How did you get started in public television?

Hap Freund: I moved to Hawaii in 1980, with my wife who had a clerkship in the Hawaii
Supreme Court … I got a job with the mayor’s office. I was in the office of human
resources and I was in charge of special projects in social services but I wasn’t supposed
to spend any money and all I had to do was monitor a bunch of federal grants and it was
totally boring. … Somehow it came to me that there was this access channel that if you
produced television for it you could get your programs on TV.

…. I got together with some friends of mine and we did a documentary on homeless in
Hawaii. And after I made that documentary I then went to the Junior League and I got a
$50,000 grant to produce TV programs, to do the video training and to produce local
documentaries on social issues. … Over the course of about two years we did 18 half
hour documentaries. So I did that through my job working for the mayor’s

…It was kind of a back door. I had never done television. I had been a lawyer, and a
community organizer and done a lot of work in social issues, but because the mayor
didn’t want to spent any money. …I could do anything I wanted pretty much in social
services as long as I didn’t spend money. So I did this and didn’t cost her a cent.

So that’s how I got into it. Then I moved to Ashland, Oregon when our son was about a
year and a half and I did independent work. I did a documentary for NOVA that took a
year. I wrote an article for Sports Illustrated on a wildlife forensic lab in Ashland … it
was in the swimsuit issue, so the joke was it was in the most widely read Sports
Illustrated of the year, except nobody read my article. (Laughs) But part of that, I took
that article and I wrote a grant to do a film on wildlife forensics.

LD: And you were in Seattle before you came to the Santa Channels when it switched
from belonging to Cox to being a nonprofit.

HF: Yes. We became a nonprofit in January of 2003 and I started up a couple of months
before that to set up the bylaws and the policies and personnel plan.

… One of the things I really like is what’s happened in video is it’s democratized, even
more so now because you can shoot a video with your phone. It’s been an incredible
leveler and it’s just democratized so much, and You Tube helps too. You can get the
word out. What we do is so you don’t have to have a network to get the word out. And
that’s one of the things I like about this (public television) is it’s a vehicle for people to
have their opinions. … I think that’s the cornerstone of democracy is having diverse
opinions and people hearing things that are uncomfortable.

… I always think we feel a real niche with cable. Channel 17, that’s the public access
part, with Channel 21 … I have a very broad definition of education, so I look at anything
that’s culture or arts also as educational.

LD: You are also doing things with nonprofits.

HF: Now we have a grant from Orfalea Foundation to do short spotlights on nonprofits
that are out in the field and we’ve got a grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation where
we’re trying to focus a lot on doing production work for nonprofits. I think if there’s a
direction we want to go in, we really see ourselves as being the media arm for nonprofits.

LD: That’s great. Especially because I know everybody is struggling with money to
spend on things like that.

HF: Yes and we’re inexpensive and we give them something they can multipurpose
because it isn’t just going on TV, we have a video-sharing site called,
and we have all these videos. … They can link to it, they can send emails out.

LD: I hear you’re moving into the old Univision buildings in Goleta?

HF: Yes, it’s very exciting. I mean I love to be downtown but the Univision building in
the long run and even in the short run saves us money and it’s a bigger facility for less
money. And it’s a better studio. … We can have an audience of 49 people and so one of
the ideas I have is … we want to market this to nonprofits and say if you’ve got an event
if you want to have a town hall or a forum, why don’t you do it at our place because you
can put it on TV live, you can have people calling in and interacting.

… Also the other part is that I think our major mission is to facilitate and make it easier
for people to get their content out. So we look at that in terms of both the media that we
offer, …it’s both the production and the distribution. Because a lot of people just bring us
content more and more … they don’t have to produce it here to get it on the air. I am
happy to have all of that stuff.

LD: Do you have any favorite moments since you’ve been here?

HF: I could write a novel about this place. (Laughs) It’s never dull … My favorite
moment was we were producing something in the smaller studio for the film festival with
the film festival people and the police were getting ready to do a program in the other
studio and they brought some drug dogs, drug sniffing dogs in who went nuts. I saw all of
these people looking around kind of nervously and what it was was they had also brought
in some marijuana to hide behind the couch to show the dogs off, but I think a lot of
people were starting to get nervous.

… But really one of my favorite things is just knowing that people watch. When
somebody comes up to me and says, “thank you so much for showing the youth
symphony. It was so wonderful for all those kids to see their hard work on television.”
That appreciation that goes a long way.

LD: That’s great. With print media struggling, do you see an expanded or different role
for television?

HF: That’s a good question. I think the print media people who are sending the reporters
out with cameras, like the Ventura County Star or something, I think they get it. I don’t
think we compete with print media. I think the more information people have the better.
… I think there’s going to be some convergence. But I think what we need is more good
reporting and so I think the people who do print media, it’s really different than bloggers.
Bloggers can just repeat rumors. With journalists you get both sides of the story and I
think we’re losing some of that. That’s what I worry about the Internet, you can have an
opinion and people treat it as fact. … I would hate to see print journalism gone, but I
hope that what we need is good reporting. I think unbiased reporting, both sides of the
story, get the facts straight and let people make up their mind. I think that’s what’s most

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

HF: I like to spend time with family, watch basketball, exercise, and travel though it’s
getting harder to afford. I’m a huge basketball junkie, especially Duke.

LD: If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be?

HP: Enthusiastic, issue-oriented, and upbeat

Vital Stats: Hap Freund

Born: July 31, 1943 in St. Louis, Missouri

Family: Wife Claudia Chotzen, sons Zach (age 22 and a senior at Stanford) and Willy
(age 18 and a senior at Laguna Blanca).

Civic Involvement: “This takes a lot of my time. This is not a 40-hour a week
commitment, so I would say that my civic involvement really is through work and trying
to get organizations in the door and caring about what they do.”

Professional Accomplishments: Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Channels,
former lawyer and community organizer, award-winning documentary

Best Book You’ve Read Recently: “Shining City,” and “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.”

Little-Known Fact: Freund was once one of the leading experts in the country on lead
paint poisoning in children. He also holds the patent on a design for a carrot-shaped

Originally published in Noozhawk on March 29, 2009,  click here to see the link.