Cushman has held the position of President longer than any other executive in the 113-year history of the Chamber. His retirement will be effective at the end of this fiscal year. Cushman remarked that although he is retiring from his position with the Chamber, he plans to start a business development and fundraising company, in addition to pursuing his interests in art, poetry, and travel.
Cushman first came to Santa Barbara to attend UCSB. After graduation, he played professional baseball, served in the Army, was Director of Athletics for the City of San Diego, Director of the San Diego State Athletic Foundation, Managing Partner of National Racquetball Courts Inc, and Associate Director of the Southwest Museum in Highland Park. He returned to Santa Barbara in 1988 to take the position of Executive Director of the Downtown Organization. He served as President of both the Downtown Organization and Chamber of Commerce for 8 years.
In his 29 years in Santa Barbara, Cushman has served on more than 100 non-profit boards and commissions. He has raised in excess of $60 million for local projects and has produced more than 1,000 events. Cushman is the producer and host of COMMERCE, a weekly business radio program broadcast on KZSB 1290 AM News Press radio. With over 1600 hours of programming, it is the longest running locally produced show in Santa Barbara County. The show is broadcast every Wednesday at 11:00 AM and 9:00PM and Saturdays at 9:00 AM.
Steve said that his most memorable Chamber experience was the planning and construction of Kids World Playground in Alameda Park in 1994. Kids World is an artistic, unique, 10,000 square foot, community built playground. Cushman convinced the Chamber to take on the project. With local realtor Randy Glick serving as Kids World Chairman, the Chamber recruited 4,000 volunteers, borrowed 3,000 tools, raised $500,000 and built the playground in 5 long days and nights.
Stan Roden, Chamber President, said of the project, “I’ve seen some pretty amazing things in my time. But I’ve never seen anything like what you pulled together this weekend. It was amazing. Not just a few volunteers, but thousands. I’ve had some contact with volunteers. One is difficult; two is a chore; three is utter chaos. You were able to marshal the pent up energy of thousands to produce Santa Barbara’s version of the Pyramids. Congratulations.”
In 2011, Cushman received the Pacific Coast Business Times award for Small Business Advocate of the Year and this month will receive the award for Community Service from the United Way. His biography, 54 Hard Ones, was published by Boehm Biographies and is available in local bookstores. His sculpture can be seen at the Sullivan Goss Gallery and in local businesses throughout town.
Cushman expressed confidence that the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce would continue to be the most important business advocate in the County. He stressed the depth of knowledge and experience on the board of directors and the dedication of the Chamber staff. Chamber Chairman Janet Garufis, President of Montecito Bank and Trust, said: “We thank Steve for his many years of commitment and service to the Santa Barbara business community and wish him happiness on this next chapter in his adventure. We will miss his creativity, leadership, and dedication.”