The Santa Barbara Foundation today announced the first annual Santa Barbara County Leadership Awards. The nomination process is now open for three awards honoring and celebrating the hard work, commitment and impact of our social sector leaders and organizations throughout the region.

“People in the nonprofit sector often feel under-appreciated and under-supported, given the daily challenges they overcome developing their organizations and ensuring that they have capacity to meet the critical needs of our residents,” shared Ron Gallo, President and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation.

The Visionary Leader Award recognizes an individual whose career has achieved extraordinary impact within the nonprofit sector, addressing one or more of Santa Barbara County’s most pressing long-term challenges. This individual demonstrates “out of the box” thinking that has led to enhancing the economic, cultural or social well-being of the County. The Better Together Award honors a nonprofit organization that has built collaborative relationships with other nonprofits, businesses or individuals whose combined efforts have had a significant, positive and systemic impact. Lastly, the Emerging Leader Award celebrates and calls attention to the promise and impact of talented nonprofit leaders that have recently made it to the top of their organization or are on their way.

All awards include a financial contribution to support the individual, organization or collaboration that is being honored. The Visionary Leader Award includes $75,000 to be allocated in support of the individual’s compensation and benefits ($25,000), general operating support for the nonprofit organization ($40,000), and staff training and development ($10,000). The Better Together Award includes $25,000 to directly benefit the collaboration or partnership, and the Emerging Leader Award includes $5,000 for the individual’s compensation and benefits.

The three leadership awards are a project of the Foundation’s newest venture, the Collaboration for Social Impact (CSI), created to ensure nonprofit leaders and organizations have the knowledge, skills and resources to fulfill their mission. CSI facilitates workshops, seminars, coaching and mentoring, and engages in public and sector advocacy developed and implemented through an ongoing collaboration with community leaders and partner organizations.

CSI is advised by a diverse and experienced group of nonprofit executive leaders that live and work throughout Santa Barbara County. These individuals are Victoria Juarez, President and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, Patricia Keelean, CEO of the Community Action Commission, Eder Gaona-Macedo, Executive Director of Future Leaders of America, Sylvia Barnard, Executive Director of Good Samaritan Shelter, Dean Palius, CEO of Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, Roger Durling, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Sigrid Wright, President and CEO of the Community Environmental Council, Sean Hawkins, Executive Director of the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, and Santa Barbara Foundation Trustee Ernesto Paredes.

The Santa Barbara County Leadership Awards joins the Santa Barbara Foundation’s tradition of honoring outstanding service to community members and agencies. The Man & Woman of the Year awards is in its 76th year honoring service in Santa Barbara, while the Celebrate Philanthropy awards honor individuals, couples or families of the Santa Maria Valley. These awards honor volunteerism and philanthropy whereas the Santa Barbara County Leadership Awards are specifically for full-time or part-time, nonprofit sector professionals. 

For more information regarding the nomination process for the Santa Barbara County Leadership Awards, please visit The nominations open today, April 5, 2019 and close on May 3, 2019. The awards will be announce at an event on May 14.


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