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The Working Life: Juli Askew

She puts her many talents to good use as an events and marketing coordinator for the local United Way

Santa Barbara native Juli Askew says her early training with costuming and public relations has served her well as an events and marketing coordinator for United Way of Santa Barbara County.
Santa Barbara native Juli Askew says her early training with costuming and public relations has served her well as an events and marketing coordinator for United Way of Santa Barbara County.  (Jenn Kennedy photo / www.kennedypix.com)

Some people are undeniably memorable. Juli Askew is one of them. She’s gregarious and warm with a no-nonsense way. Known affectionately by friends as Juli Superstar, she has a deep commitment to volunteerism and community.

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Askew says she inherited a creative gene. Her father worked first at Santa Barbara High School and later at Westmont College as an art teacher. Her brother is a sound mixer in Hollywood, and her mother claims to “live life creatively.” She attended College of Santa Fe and created her own major: designing costumes for stage and film.

After graduating, she made her way to Hollywood to practice her craft. To Askew’s disappointment, she quickly learned that most films are modern day and therefore don’t offer exciting opportunities to do much design. She shifted to theater and says she loved it.

During her tenure on stage costume design, she names the production of Oliver as her favorite. On a shoestring budget, she dressed dozens of children, including America Ferrera, who went on to great fame. She later decided to leave the business for something better paying. Askew worked in public relations, for a dating service and for a financial services company.

With a sigh of relief, she decided to return to the familiarity and serenity of Santa Barbara. Her mother had breast cancer and she was able to support her through her treatments. Askew took a job with United Way of Santa Barbara County as an events and marketing coordinator and has found her diverse background to be relevant and uniquely applicable.

Each United Way organization is part of a global network, but it is founded and run by people from that home community. Decisions are made locally, resources are raised locally and results are achieved locally.

“Founded in 1923, the goal of United Way of Santa Barbara County is to improve the lives for children, families and seniors in the community by focusing efforts on education, income and health,” Askew said.

Askew oversees Day of Caring, the largest single-day volunteer event in the tri-county area. She coordinates the volunteers from workplaces, schools and churches, and she organizes the logistics between United Way and the benefiting charities at more than 60 agency sites. Tasks done as part of the day include planting trees at Dos Pueblos High, beach cleanups, and the repainting and maintenance of playground buildings.

Askew wears many hats in her job, and she says that all of her early training with costuming and public relations has served her well at United Way. During her time in Los Angeles, she was a team leader for the Cancer Walk and for another group that raised $55,000, over 10 years, for the AIDS Walk. She says she loves gathering people for a cause.

“The key to attracting volunteers, is to have a cheerleader — someone whose enthusiasm is infectious,” she said.

Askew is that person, as she has increased the Day of Caring volunteer count to more than 1,400 from 1,000 in just two years.

Askew also has been instrumental in growing a local Young Leaders chapter. The goal of United Way’s Young Leaders Society is to promote and encourage philanthropy and volunteerism among the young leaders of Santa Barbara County, through participation in a variety of social, educational, volunteer and network opportunities.

“There are many ways to give,” she said. “It can be either be financial or time and resources. All are valuable.”

For more information on Day of Caring, Young Leaders or other United Way programs, e-mail Askew at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Noozhawk contributor Jenn Kennedy can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of her work.

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