Scholarship Foundation Board Chair Matt Rowe, Event Co-Chair and Co-Host Janet Garufis, Event Co-Chair and Co-Host Kirsten McLaughlin, and Honoree Foodbank of SB County CEO Erik Talkin | Credit: Gail Arnold

On June 7, about 500 people gathered at the Hilton S.B. Beachfront Resort for the annual South Coast Business & Technology Awards, which honored local entities and individuals and raised funds for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. The event grossed a record $310,000. 

Guests enjoyed a networking reception in the Rotunda followed by dinner and the program in the Grand Ballroom, where they were welcomed by Event Co-Chairs Kirsten McLaughlin (Cox Communications market vice president) and Janet Garufis (Montecito Bank & Trust chair and CEO).

Scholarship Foundation Board Chair Matt Rowe expressed gratitude for everyone’s support, but noted that there is more to do. Even though the Foundation has become the nation’s largest community-based provider of scholarships, Rowe noted, deserving applicants are still turned away due to insufficient funds. Last year, 1,300 deserving students did not get funding. 

Scholarship recipient Diego Curiel shared how he overcame alcohol and drug addiction as a teenager in the S.B. Rescue Mission’s Men’s Recovery Program and is now studying computer engineering at Cal Poly. His compelling story, eloquence, and gratitude to the Scholarship Foundation led to a standing ovation.

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Guillaume de Zwirek, founder and CEO of Artera (formerly WELL Health), a leader in digital patient communications. Its platform is used by more than 500 health systems, including Sansum Clinic. Zwirek has a BA in classical guitar from the University of Southern CA and is a six-time Ironman athlete.

The Company of the Year Award went to Yardi, which provides property management software and services. A privately held company founded in 1982 by Anant Yardi, it has grown to employ more than 8,500 people in 45 offices worldwide. 

Yardi is highly regarded not only for its products, but also for its quality of life for employees and its philanthropy. In accepting the award, VP Kevin Yardi noted the company’s guiding principles of taking care of its clients, its employees, and its communities.

Yardi demonstrated its focus on employees and the community that evening by bringing about 70 employees to the event. Yardi supports hundreds of nonprofits, including more than 50 in the Santa Barbara area.

The Executive of the Year Award went to Elizabeth Cholawsky, CEO of HG Insights. She previously led and held executive positions at Citrix Systems,, and Valueclick.

Foodbank of S.B. County received the Excellence in Service Award. In accepting the award, CEO Erik Talkin emphasized that Foodbank not only distributes food to one in four people in the county, but also runs food literacy programs at the pre-school through high school level, seeking to empower youth with skills for their nutritional health.

The Pioneer Award recipient was John Greathouse, a venture capitalist, entrepreneur, writer, and UCSB Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies. As a venture capitalist, he has deployed roughly $100 million on behalf of 60 ventures. He currently serves as executive chair at CLIQ Products, BuyerCaddy, and Cadense.

Parker Clay received a Rising Star Award. For the manufacture of its luxury line of leather bags, it employs at-risk women in Ethiopia, pays living wages and benefits, provides training opportunities, and uses sustainable sources.  

Sun & Swell was another Rising Star Award recipient. A certified B Corp, it makes organic, plant-based foods in compostable packaging. CrossnoKaye also received a Rising Star Award.

Award recipients were chosen by the 31-member South Coast Business & Technology Awards Committee, co-chaired by McLaughlin and Garufis.

The Scholarship Foundation of S.B. has awarded more than $150 million since its founding in 1962. This year, it awarded nearly $7.2 million to 1,864 students. The Scholarship Foundation also provides free financial aid advising services, which generate significant additional funds for students.

Honoree Yardi staff: Receptionist/HR Cristina Cruz, Construction Team Leader Rosemary Kelley, VP Kevin Yardi, and Technical Account Manager Mariana Vega | Gail Arnold
Honoree Parker Clay Co-Founder and CEO Ian Bentley with Co-Founder and Creative Director Brittany Bentley | Gail Arnold
Scholarship Foundation Interim President and CEO Mary Dwyer with Honoree Guillaume de Zwirek | Isaac Hernandez de Lipa
Honoree John Greathouse (center) with Event Co-Chairs Kirsten McLaughin and Janet Garufis | Isaac Hernandez de Lipa


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