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I have read that there are more non-profits in Santa Barbara than in any other community in our nation, around 900! Growing up in this town exposed me to non-profits, boards and giving back at a very young age.
My parents were always involved – sitting on school boards, organizing car shows, fundraising for athletic associations, supporting environmental groups, creating races to raise money for cancer research and many more that I cannot recall or probably never even knew about!
I was asked to join my first board, the Community Environmental Council in 2008 and have remained involved with this group ever since, now sitting on the President’s Council and co-chairing the annual Green Gala for the second time this coming fall. The education and environmental knowledge that I have gained through this board affiliation has been life changing- literally.
The connections that I have made through this board have lead to lifelong friendships, business deals, partnerships, political allies and knowledge about how many other non-profit opportunities exist in our community. In fact a past president of the CEC, Jeff Carmody nominated me for the Santa Barbara Foundation’s program, Leading From Within and I was honored to be selected to participate.
Here is the description for this program from their website: “Since 1999, the Katherine Harvey Fellows program has invested in the development of 112 talented and motivated young community leaders in Santa Barbara County. Fellows come from a variety of professional backgrounds and perspectives, and complete the program with the skills, connections, and confidence to effectively engage in issues and organizations important to them and to Santa Barbara County. They become part of the dynamic network of social change leaders making our region stronger.”
This past Wednesday, the 18-month program came to a conclusion after presenting our final projects and then gathering together one final time to graduate. Our environmental group focused on our bio-region and how to make our food system more resilient, which was even more apparent when the 101 freeway was closed for weeks after the tragic January 9th mud-flow incident. Looking forward our final project idea is looking like it may join forces with another group, “Kiss The Ground” and turn into a real, tangible project here in Santa Barbara and in other communities. This makes me very proud and excited for the future of our region and the options that a program like this being implemented will create.
Leading From Within is currently evaluating the program for next year and gathering names of interested people. Please reach out to me if this is something that you are interested in or if you know a colleague or friend that would benefit from this educational experience. I consider this program to be a great benefit to those in our community that enjoy giving back, would like to learn more about boards, non-profits, fundraising, networking and meet a great group of professional peers and also be invited to meet the leaders of our community in all industries.