Monica Spear
Paul Wellman (file)

Girls Inc. Executive Director Monica Spear spent the last two decades inspiring girls to be “strong, smart, and bold,” and now it’s time for her to live by the same motto as she ventures into the unknown. Spear recently announced she will depart in May from the organization she put her heart and soul into since first volunteering there as a UCSB grad 20 years ago.

“It’s happy news,” Spear said, expressing excitement that she does not know what her future holds. Her decision to leave comes at a time when the organization has a solid team of staffers, Spear said, and is restructuring its organizational model. “I am absolutely in love with the organization, so it was very important to me to make sure I did it at a time when there wouldn’t be any negative impacts, or at least minimal impacts,” Spear added.

Girls Inc. recently hired Sandy Knight as Director of Finance and Administration and is in the process of hiring a chief operating officer so that the CEO/executive director can focus on external relations. As the woman in charge for the past 12 years, Spear has had the demanding job of focusing on internal operations while also being the organization’s voice and face.

During Spear’s tenure, Girls Inc. built a second center in Goleta, weathered tough economic times, and increased the number of girls its serves. Currently, 1,200 girls aged 4 to 18 attend one of its programs in the Santa Barbara area, and the nonprofit hopes to expand its reach from the South Coast to northern parts of the county. “I would love to see the organization never have to worry about money,” Spear said, so it could “just focus on doing [its] job of delivering the best quality service to as many girls as possible.”

Christi Sulzbach, chair of the Girls Inc. board of directors, said Spear has impacted countless young lives and will leave a lasting legacy. A Bay Area native, Spear is unsure if she will return up north or stay here. Once she officially departs, she’s looking forward to a little rest and maybe a trip to Italy.


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