Local real estate pioneer Diana Bull.

By Todd Shea
2023 President
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors

Women’s History Month, which takes place in March, is a time to honor and commemorate women’s achievements to culture and society. Women have always had significant roles in society, striving for justice and equality, breaking down obstacles, and inspiring future generations. Our very own Santa Barbara, California, has produced a number of notable women who have made their impact on history. I did some research and wanted to share a small sampling of all the amazing women here in Santa Barbara.

Strong women who battled for their rights and the rights of others have a long history in Santa Barbara. Pearl Chase is among the most significant female figures in Santa Barbara’s past. Chase dedicated her life to preserving and enhancing Santa Barbara’s natural environment and cultural history. She had a significant part in the creation of public parks and gardens in the city and formed the Community Arts Organization. The numerous public areas that Chase helped construct carry on her legacy and everyone can be inspired by her dedication to maintaining Santa Barbara’s distinctive character and beauty. Historian Walker A. Tompkins summarized her influence on the city by saying, “She did more to beautify her adopted hometown of Santa Barbara than any other individual.” WOW!

Dr. Lois Phillips is another outstanding Santa Barbara woman. Author and leadership specialist Phillips has spent more than 30 years advancing diversity and empowering women in the workplace. She has authored several books on diversity and leadership and has received recognition for her work in the area. Dr. Phillips has a particular interest in Glass Ceiling programs advancing women’s careers and cultivating women’s Board leadership.

We cannot discuss outstanding women from Santa Barbara without mentioning Madame Ganna Walska. Walska was a Polish opera singer and a passionate gardener who created one of the most beautiful and unique gardens in the world at her home in Santa Barbara. She purchased the historic 37-acre “Cuesta Linda” estate in Montecito near Santa Barbara, California, intending to use it as a retreat for Tibetan monks. Due to restrictions during the war, the monks were not allowed to travel there. So she renamed her estate Lotusland, after the sacred flower in Tibetan religions. Lotusland garden is a masterpiece of horticulture and design featuring exotic plants and sculptures from around the world. Walska’s legacy lives on in the thousands of visitors who come to Lotusland every year to experience its beauty and tranquility.

Diana Bull is an excellent example of women in real estate. She began her real estate career in 1971 at 22 and became a broker two years later. She owned and managed her own real estate and mortgage companies for over 40 years. She served as President of the Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS® in 1982 and has been involved at the local, state, and national levels ever since. I have had the privilege to attend both the California Association of REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS® conferences with her. She is so well respected, and it’s an honor to watch her in action representing Santa Barbara.

Of course, I couldn’t write an article on amazing women without including my mom Jane, wife Melissa, and daughter Caitlin. These three women continue to motivate and inspire me through their successes, strength, and love. Thank you all for what you have done for me and the others around you. I am so blessed to have my daughter Caitlin continue my legacy and impact the world in her unique way. 

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women throughout history. Santa Barbara is home to many exceptional women who have impacted their community and beyond. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, remember and honor the many women in and outside of Santa Barbara who have worked to make the world a better place.

Todd Shea is the 2023 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR). He is a California licensed real estate agent with the Zia Group powered by eXp Realty here in Santa Barbara. He has served on and chaired several committees within the SBAOR and served on its board of directors. Todd can be reached at 805.453.7730 and todd@ziagroup.com or message and follow @toddshearealtor on Instagram. 


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.