Board chair Dave Clark and President/CEO Kristen Miller.
Gail Arnold

On Saturday, November 19 at the Bacara Resort & Spa, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce held its 67th annual Goleta’s Finest Community Awards Ceremony. Thirteen individuals and entities were honored for their contributions to the community.

At the lively reception in the foyer and ballroom preceding dinner, the community spirit was running strong among the 400 guests who had gathered to honor this year’s Finest. A single rose labeled each of the multitude of VIPs in the room: red for the honorees, white for the presenters, and yellow for the many past honorees who came to honor this year’s Finest.

After a buffet dinner with an assortment of decadent dishes, executive director Kristen Miller warmly welcomed the guests and introduced board chair Dave Clark who deftly served as the evening’s emcee.

The Man of the Year Award went to Jim Farr, Goleta’s current mayor and the Woman of the Year Award went to Marsha Bailey, the founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures.
(See press release below for more information about Farr and Bailey).

The Small Non-Profit of the Year was awarded to Food from the Heart. In accepting the award, executive director Kelly Onnen related how her group of volunteers calls itself the “Food from the Heart Family.” She accepted the award on behalf of all 84 volunteers who harvest, prep, package, and deliver food to clients dealing with a health crisis, on behalf of their chef who prepares restaurant-quality food, and on behalf of their current 155 clients.

Montecito Bank & Trust president and CEO Janet Garufis presented Michael Towbes, chair of The Towbes Group, with the Large Business of the Year Award. In accepting, Towbes related how the company began 60 years ago and that he considers “Goleta the centerpiece of the development we have done over the years.” He noted that the company has built shopping centers, industrial parks, and every type of residential housing including student housing, below market housing, single family homes, condos, and apartments. The Towbes Group built Goleta’s first affordable housing project and it has focused on developing workforce housing.

The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce accepts nominations for Goleta’s Finest each year from the business community and the general public. A 15-member committee made the selections this year. For more information about the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, go to

Below is a description of the winners from a press release issued by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce:

Man of the Year: Jim Farr

Jim Farr is the current Mayor of the City of Goleta, ending his term this December. He has been an advocate in the Goleta community since 1989. He was active in the group GoletaNow!, helping Goleta become its own city. He was a small business owner, running Goleta’s weekly newspaper, The Goleta Valley Voice and a radio broadcast professional. As a member of the Goleta Valley Historical Society, he co-Chaired the successful Restoration Campaign for Rancho La Patera & Stow House.

Woman of the Year: Marsha Bailey

Marsha Bailey is the founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures and the Small Business Loan Fund of Santa Barbara. WEV is celebrating their 25th anniversary, a testament to Bailey’s hard work and focus. Bailey has been developing educational programs and services for women since 1983 and is the primary author of WEV’s self-employment training curriculum, From Vision to Venture. Many of Goleta’s local businesses and entrepreneurs have gone through the WEV program, helping them start up and run sustainable businesses.

Educator of the Year: Ina Ettenberg

Ina Ettenberg is an all around VIP when it comes to teaching, learning and leading. She has worked enthusiastically for 25 years serving the children of Goleta, as a classroom teacher and as an intervention teacher.  If we agree with the notion that teaching is a calling, and that teachers transform lives, then Ina is the embodiment of that definition.

Large Non-Profit of the Year: Ice in Paradise

A year ago Ice in Paradise opened their doors in Goleta, and we celebrate the non-profit that made this dream a reality. The Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association worked tirelessly to raise the funds to build the facility. The $15 million project includes an NHL-sized hockey rink, a second-story terrace overlooking the skating and hockey, a second, smaller rink for skating, and facilities including 6 team locker rooms, a figure skating room, specially equipped adaptive sports locker room and more.

Small Non-Profit of the Year: Food from the Heart

Food from the Heart is a grass roots volunteer organization that feeds people in medical crisis. Founded during the AIDs epidemic, they have now adapted to serving those in need that are not supported by governmental services. Each week 150 to 160 clients receive a bag of healthy, fresh appetizing food that will aid in the client’s healing and recovery.

Volunteer of the Year: Teri McDuffie

Teri Coffee McDuffie is owner of Santa Barbara Women’s Self Defense. A 6 degree black belt, Teri is a natural leader and giver. Teri has been a long time board member for the National Association of Women Business Owners Santa Barbara Chapter and Ambassador for the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. She’s always the first to arrive and the one cleaning up at the end. She constantly donates her service to schools and women in need.

Student of the Year: Ruby Gans

Ruby Gans is a senior at Dos Pueblos High School. She is a student athlete in the Track and Field Program, a member of the Dos Pueblos Jazz Band, a Writing Center tutor, a National Honor Society member, and this is just a few of her extracurricular activities. Ruby has an impressive resume that we will be celebrating at Student of the Year.

Small Business of the Year: M. Special Brewing Company

M. Special Brewing Company opened their doors in Goleta in September 2015, and quickly became a local favorite. The brewery is located adjacent to many of Goleta’s large employers and has become the hot spot for local tech employees and beer connoisseurs alike. Their portfolio of beers is diverse, ranging from IPA’s to a Crisp American Lager.

Large Business of the Year: The Towbes Group

The Towbes Group is celebrating 60 years in business this year. The Towbes Group has arguably had the biggest impact on the progress in Goleta. From Calle Real Center, to Willow Springs Apartments, the Towbes Group has provided much needed offices for our businesses and housing for our workforce. The Towbes Group’s mission is to make their corner of the world a better place, one project, one idea and one person at a time.

Hospitality Business of the Year: Glen Annie Golf Club

Glen Annie Golf Club has been a part of the Goleta Community for nearly 20 years. The championship golf course in Goleta is not just home to local golfers, but to the entire community. Nearly every corporate and charitable tournament in the area is held at Glen Annie. In addition, junior high and high school golfers are invited to practice at the facility. Glen Annie has become a gathering place for business meetings, holidays and celebrations.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Michael McDonald – Zizzo’s Coffee

Zizzo’s Coffee is a household name in the Goleta community, but many don’t know the face behind the brand. Michael McDonald has worked tirelessly building the Zizzo’s brand, supporting the Goleta community and eventually expanding their operations to 3 locations. Zizzo’s Coffee and Brew Pub recently opened their doors in Hollister Village, while at the same time opening their satellite location inside Ice in Paradise.

Old Town Business of the Year: Prestigious Auto Body

The team at Prestigious Auto Body have been providing superior auto body service for years. They have been instrumental in the beautification process of Old Town Goleta and supportive of community events. Prestigious Auto Body has worked with the San Marcos High School Automotive Technology Program to help restore cars the students are working on.

Special Recognition: UCSB College of Engineering

With a culture of innovation committed to developing new technology in ways that benefit the world, the UCSB College of Engineering has proven itself as one of the most successful public research institutions in the country for the past 50 years. We are celebrating their 50 year anniversary.

Man of the Year Goleta Mayor Jim Farr.
Gail Arnold
Women's Economic Ventures founder and CEO Marsha Bailey accepting the awarrd for Woman of the Year.
Gail Arnold
Chamber board member and Superintendent of Goleta Union School District Bill Banning and his wife Becky Banning.
Gail Arnold
Food from the Heart Executive director Kelly Onnen, accepting the award for Small Non-Profit of the Year.
Gail Arnold
Dean of UCSB College of Engineering Rod Alferness accepting the Special Recognition Award.
Gail Arnold
Guests enjoy the program.
Gail Arnold
Guests enjoy the program.
Gail Arnold
The Towbes Group board chair Michael Towbes accepting the award for Large Business of the Year.
Gail Arnold
Student of the Year Ruby Gans.
Gail Arnold
M. Special Brewing Co. co-owner and brewmaster Josh Ellis accepting the award for Small Business of the Year.
Gail Arnold
Board chair Dave Clark and President/CEO Kristen Miller.
Gail Arnold
Glen Annie Golf Club Food and Beverage Manager Jason Steffenauer who accepted the award for Hospitality Business of the Year.
Gail Arnold


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