Geoff Green | Credit: Paul Wellman

[Updated: Tue., Oct. 10, 2023, 1:30pm]

Geoff Green, perhaps Santa Barbara’s most ubiquitous ambassador of philanthropic goodwill, announced that he will be stepping down from the helm of the Santa Barbara City College Foundation after nearly nine years to become top dog with the California Association of Nonprofits. Green starts the new gig late this coming January and will be earning the same salary as he did at the Foundation. In the meantime, the Foundation — one of the cornerstones of Santa Barbara’s philanthropic universe — will be looking for a successor.

During his tenure at the SBCC Foundation, Green — who first cut his philanthropic teeth working with the politically progressive Fund for Santa Barbara — focused aggressively on issues of equity. Upon taking over, he wasted little time launching the Promise program, which in its first six years got 6,000 graduating high school students from the Santa Barbara area enrolled in the free-tuition-and-books program. Once there, administrators checked in with outreach, counseling, and support to increase students’ chances of success. Last year, the Foundation gave away $1 million in scholarships to 770 city college students. 

Green, whose mission was to raise funds for the Foundation, was aided considerably by a $20 million donation in 2021 from MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of billionaire Jeff Bezos after their much-publicized divorce in 2019. During Green’s tenure, the Foundation shelled out $5.3 million to secure the downtown property that’s now home to City College’s bustling cosmetology program

In the past five years alone, Green found himself working with no fewer than nine different college presidents. In that role, he played the unofficial role of greeter and consigliere, showing newcomers the ropes and advising them on the not intuitively obvious art of how to — and how not to — Santa Barbara. 

As a public figure, Green has long been more than the sum of his parts, schmoozer extraordinaire, rubber-chicken warrior, and much-sought-after mediator for nonprofits experiencing internal strife. Green has functioned as auctioneer for a multitude of nonprofit fundraisers — 20-30 a year — humorously, and shamelessly hectoring anyone within earshot to dig deep into their pockets to give. 

“As they say, ‘If you’re not at the table then you’re on the menu.’ Nonprofit organizations are relied on to solve most of society’s ills and address the toughest challenges, yet they are rarely leading the public policy discussions. In most cases nonprofits are put in the position of responding after the fact,” Green said. With the California Association of Nonprofits, he said, he hopes to help turn that around. 


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