Civic leaders Bill Cirone and Anne Smith Towbes were honored as Santa Barbara’s Man & Woman of the Year on Tuesday afternoon at the 71st annual awards ceremony, in recognition of the pair’s long-standing commitment to community service and voluntary leadership.
The Santa Barbara Foundation announced the closely guarded secret to a rapt audience as the 2013 honorees were selected from a pool of 60 nominees at Tuesday's event, sponsored by the foundation, Noozhawk and KDB 93.7 classic radio with support from Montecito Bank & Trust.
Since moving to Santa Barbara in 1991, Towbes has served on many local boards, including Cate School, Santa Barbara City College, Lobero Theatre Foundation and the Hutton Parker Foundation, and is currently serving with the Santa Barbara Revels, which presents performances and events to diverse groups.
Towbes explained to the crowd that she was honored to walk in the footsteps of her husband, Michael Towbes, who was awarded Man of the Year in 1994.
“I have a mantra — when people say why do I keep so busy, I keep saying that, well, we are all in this together,” Towbes said. “And looking around this room and seeing so many people I know, and friends that have given so much of their time, talent and treasure to the community — I don’t know if you all agree with me, but we are all in this together.”
Cirone has a long record of leadership in business, civic and educational affairs, serving as a consultant to the National Teacher Corps and UCLA Graduate School of Education, among others. He was one of the co-founders of Santa Barbara Partners in Education and a member of the board of the Santa Barbara Foundation, playing a key role in transferring student scholarships to the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
“It’s a big privilege to work with and be a part of the community where people care,” Cirone said. “Whatever the need is, if you pick up the phone and ask, a) people they understand, and b) they rally around the cause. It’s fun to see so many of you rally around good causes to make things happen.”
Cirone and Towbes join a select group of Santa Barbara’s community volunteerism leaders who have been recognized as Man & Woman of the Year since the program was established in 1942. Previous honorees include last year’s winners, Ken Saxon and Patricia MacFarland, in addition to Pearl Chase, Larry Crandell, Bob Emmons, Palmer Jackson Jr., Penny Jenkins, Gerd Jordano, Eli Luria, Peter MacDougall, Joanne Rapp, Maryann Schall and Cliff Sponsel.
This year's event was a luncheon held in the Loggia Ballroom of the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, and Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, captured the spirit of the event and the community.
“We are fortunate to live in a place where the spirit of volunteerism is a hallmark of who we are,” Gallo said. “This year’s recipients of the Man and Woman of the Year Award, Anne Smith Towbes and Bill Cirone, have time and again demonstrated their compassion, innovation and willingness to go above and beyond to touch the lives of individuals, families and organizations. The sum of their passions, efforts and generosity is a better Santa Barbara — today and for years to come.”
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.