Friday, March 23 , 2018, 2:36 pm | Partly Cloudy 61º



Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce Introduces New CEO Michael Holliday

Annual meeting also includes awards for those making a difference in the community

The Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce introduced its new CEO, Michael Holliday, and presented awards to several Santa Barbara entrepreneurs and organizations during its annual meeting Friday.

Michael Holliday
Michael Holliday

About 350 people attended the event held at the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club.

Holliday, chamber CEO for 2011 and president of JM Holliday Associates, introduced outgoing CEO Julie McGovern, retired vice president/general manager for Cox Communications.

“I am blessed to be part of this group,” Holliday said. “These are the movers and shakers in our community.”

McGovern listed many collaborations enacted by the chamber, including the South Coast Business Forum, the SBCC micro loan program and civic roundtables, and she introduced the chamber executive staff who “really put plans into execution.”

“I’ve served on a lot of boards, but I don’t think I’ve worked with a more dedicated group on an executive board,” McGovern said.

Holliday then took the podium and introduced his family. “I feel a little bit like a rock star today, and I have my posse here to prove it,” he said.

The chamber’s focus for 2011 will be the economy, Holliday said, adding that “the South Coast has a real opportunity to leverage its strengths in ways perhaps no community can do. We are a blessed region, and we have to remember that.”

He said Santa Barbara businesses can work together to solve the community’s problems, including homelessness and drug violence.

“Our goal is to make Santa Barbara not only a first-class place to live but also a fabulous place to do business,” Holliday said.

Chamber president Steve Cushman gave succinct, humorous advice for living and working in Santa Barbara: To deal with the traffic, don’t drive alone to work one day of the week; to eradicate panhandlers, stop giving them money and they’ll move to Ventura; buy local instead of purchasing from huge retailers.

“Money is like manure: It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow,” Cushman said.

Janet Garufis, president and chief executive officer for Montecito Bank & Trust, added, “Steve forgot one thing: bank local.” She spoke about the accomplishments of the chamber during 2010, including two roundtable events, 25 trade shows and support for the 200,000 tourists who went through the Visitor Center last year.

Certified public accountant Scott Hadley of Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP reported that the audit for 2009 had been certified, and that the budget for this year should see moderate growth.

Holliday introduced Business First Bank President Joanne Funari as a “firecracker.” She posed the question: “Is this the Great Recession, or is this the recession that made us great?”

“We are the organization that will take the lead to improve economic vitality in the region and will be a part of thoughtful and thought-provoking growth,” she said.

James Terry, ambassador chair, said his role is to be a liaison for new chamber members. He presented the Ambassador of the Year Award to Tyler Dobson of Rabobank, who helped a fundraising event that supported the SBCC micro loan program to build a local entrepreneur’s business.

The Betty Haten Award for women at the helm of a business was given to Vanessa Patterson of the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College.

“I’m really proud to join the team supporting our local students,” she said.

Ana Aguilar took home the Young Business Woman of the Year Award for her work as CEO of Santa Barbara High School’s Dons Net Cafe.

“Dons Net Cafe is the greatest thing that has happened to me in my life,” Aguilar said.

Dos Pueblos High School teacher Amur Abo-Shaeer won the Innovator of the Year Award for his work at Dos Pueblos High School’s Engineering Academy.

“We have a crisis in public education, and in a lot of ways we’re creating it ourselves,” he said. “We’re so scared of failure that we’ve ensured mediocrity with these (standardizes) tests. I really think it’s important that we spotlight success in public education.”

Spencer Dusebout received the Young Innovator of the Year Award for his work with H4O, Hands for Others. His group is providing water in 75 countries for people who don’t have it, and his goal is to provide 200 million people with water.

The Community Collaborator of the Year Award went to Tom Reed and Barbara Tellefson of the Unity Shoppe.

“He has a vision and heart for this community like few people I have met,” Holliday said about Reed.

Kids Helping Kids, an organization that recently raised $165,000 for the Unity Shoppe, was honored with the Young Collaborator of the Year Award. Ellen Gleason, student CEO of Kids Helping Kids, called the organization “the most fun, the most engaging opportunity.”

Earl Armstrong of Armstrong Associates received the Businessman of the Year Award for his work in general contracting.

“Listening to all of these young people is inspiring,” he said.

Gonzalo Rios, an admitted former meth-addicted gang member, won the Young Businessman of the Year Award for his film work in Youth Cinemedia. Gesturing toward the crowd, he joked, “I’ll be calling you to finance my movies.”

Chris Chambler, Corinne Santini, David Valasquez and Russ Beardley received the Youth Services Organization Award for their work at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Collette Hadley won the Chance for Change Scholarship for her work as executive director of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

Noozhawk business writer Taylor Orr can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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