On Thursday, January 13, the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization (DO) held its Annual Luncheon and Awards Presentation where several pillars of the community were recognized for their contributions to Downtown and the City.
The Santa Barbara Independent was presented with the 2010 Citizen of the Year Award in recognition of their efforts to support, promote and chronicle downtown Santa Barbara. The Downtown Organization salutes the Santa Barbara Independent for their work in promoting downtown Santa Barbara as a center for the arts, culture, entertainment and commerce; for their commitment to recognizing local activists and community volunteers of Santa Barbara through their stewardship of the Local Heroes Awards; for their dedication to help further the missions of the non-profit community through coverage of humanitarian projects and inclusion of special non-profit sections; and for their leadership and commitment to supporting the Downtown Organization’s vital programs and collaborative promotions.
Other awards at the Annual Luncheon included the Harriet Miller Youth Leadership Award and the George Gerth Volunteer of the Year Award.
The Harriet Miller Youth Leadership Award was presented to Jose “Pepe” Gil. Pepe is a senior at Santa Barbara High School carrying a 3.5 GPA. Pepe was chosen for his outstanding leadership in school and in the community. At school, he is a member of the ASB Student Government, Gay Straight Alliance, SBHS Athletic Leadership Council, Varsity Baseball, Mock Trial, Junior Statesmen of America, Men’s Ensemble Choir, Senior Panel Student Leader, National Honor Society, California Scholarship Federation and the Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute. In the community, Pepe is the Chairman of the Santa Barbara City Youth Council. He also volunteers with Just Communities, Endowment for Youth Committee, Yes I Can/Si Se Puede, St. Raphael’s Youth Ministry and the Global Leadership Connection.
Recommended by Alena Marie, Program Manager of Just Communities, she points out that Pepe is “one of the most inspiring, committed and talented young leaders with whom I’ve had the privilege to work with.” He has been a “passionate, effective leader in movements to create just, equitable schools where ALL students can succeed, regardless of background.” Pepe was instrumental in leading the successful campaign to restructure the Santa Barbara School District GATE Program in order to remove unfair barriers that disproportionately exclude Latino/a students from advance classes. Through the process, the district created a rigorous Honors program with inclusive, fair access guidelines. As expressed by Susan Young, Neighborhood and Outreach Services Supervisor, “Pepe mirrors the goals of Mayor Miller and her vision for youth leaders.”
The Downtown Organization’s George Gerth Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Randy Rowse of the Paradise Cafe. In 2010, Randy served on the Downtown Organization’s Board of Directors as Vice President. He also serves on the Executive Committee and as Chair of the Government Relations Committee. Randy spent much of his time over the last 2 years representing the Downtown Organization in Plan Santa Barbara and as a seasoned business owner he has spent much of his career on the Downtown Parking Committee. He works towards solutions with City officials by earning their respect and understands the importance of disseminating information to businesses owners and the community.
Randy was recently appointed to the Santa Barbara City Council where he will continue to be a voice for Downtown. He generously volunteers his time to DO programs and always brings a balanced perspective of facts and wit to the DO meetings.
The Downtown Organization congratulates all those acknowledged at the Annual Lunch and Awards Presentation. Their generous support, time and inspiration continues to make downtown Santa Barbara “The most beautiful Downtown in America.”
The Downtown Organization is a membership-driven, non-profit organization whose goal is to maintain and enhance the business and cultural activity in the downtown area. Helping keep downtown Santa Barbara clean, attractive, safe and vibrant goes towards supporting this goal. Presently, there are over 1,400 members who benefit from the Downtown Organization’s commitment to excellence and its ongoing efforts on their behalf. Some of the programs, activities and events sponsored by the Downtown Organization include the Downtown Holiday Parade, the Downtown Art & Wine Tour, the decorative State Street Flag Program, Downtown Host Program, 1st Thursday, epicure.sb: a month to savor santa barbara and Downtown Safe Trick-or-Treat.