Judy Egenolf
Paul Wellman

It’s absolutely exhausting to read the long list of Santa Barbara nonprofits in which Judy Egenolf has played a role, from the Anti-Defamation League to Human Rights Watch to Domestic Violence Solutions and so on. It’s not surprising, for every conversation with her turns into a lesson in civic consciousness. Her passion for causes is admirable and contagious, and I defy anyone to say “no” to her when she calls you to attend a particular benefit or to donate an auction item.

Judy started as a certified primary and secondary Montessori teacher and ran her own school for several years. In 1988, she and her husband, Rob, established Amherst Exchange Corporation in Santa Barbara with Judy at the helm. Over the years, she has served as qualified intermediary in thousands of exchange transactions nationwide, entrusted with handling assets that reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

She took time away from her duties to answer the Proust Questionnaire.

What do you most like about your job?/

It is different every day and I work with very complex, interesting people. I also have a newish job as a director at The Bank of Santa Barbara. Everyone involved is passionate about being the best community bank in the county. It’s invigorating.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A world of people caring about one another, without judgments, greed, and territorial or religious separation. It’s asking a lot, but perfect is never easy.

What is your greatest fear?

Actually, my greatest personal fear ended when our two children were independent enough not to need us. My huge fear was dying prior to doing my best job as a parent when they were still young. Now, I look at life from a privileged position of joy. There are close family members and friends I treasure, and new people to include each day. I fear cruelties perpetrated by people with power against those who are vulnerable and/or defenseless. We are fortunate to have organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Anti Defamation League, Pacific Pride Foundation, and many others that protect human dignity with vigorous commitment.

Who do you most admire?

No one is perfect and all encompassing. I admire Rosa Parks and Galileo because they were brave enough to stand up for an unpopular belief. Albert Einstein and Marie Curie were brilliantly creative and pursued their doubted curiosities. Gloria Steinem and Nelson Mandela found words to ignite others to reach for their own human dignity. Locals I admire include Selma Rubin, Jean Schuyler, Derek Westen, Peter MacDougall, and so many more. My friend Don Skipworth makes everyone at home in the kitchen. My children teach me the most.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Travel. Each new country is thrilling and expanding. It should not be an extravagance, it should be a requirement!

What is your current state of mind?

I am moved by the promise of this fresh new year. I’m excited!

What is the quality you most like in people?

Intelligent generosity.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

Greed without boundaries.

What do you most value in friends?

Truthfulness coupled with forgiveness.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Creative enthusiasm.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Awesome, fantastic, terrific. I use hyperbole when lazy.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I have always wanted to be a rock star. That would necessitate a great voice.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would be wiser about money.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I compiled and taught an art and music history program that was incorporated into our public elementary system when my children were there. As I think about other accomplishments, I come back to the bliss of having 3rd graders get high on Rousseau and Mussorgsky. I taught K thru 6th and all grades devoured the images, emotions, and sounds of greatness. The arts inform our ability to learn all subjects.

Where would you most like to live?

In a world at peace.

What is your most treasured possession?

The love of my husband.

Who makes you laugh the most?

Rob (my hubby) and John Stewart.

What is your motto?

Take good care of yourself so you can be your best for others.


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