Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 9:39 pm | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

New Santa Barbara Foundation CEO Looking for Common Ground

Ron Gallo steps into his new role with a respect for the past and a determination to forge alliances for the future.

The venerable Santa Barbara Foundation is opening the door to a new chapter in community building with the retirement of president and CEO Chuck Slosser and the arrival of his successor, Ron Gallo.
The venerable Santa Barbara Foundation is opening the door to a new chapter in community building with the retirement of its president and CEO Chuck Slosser and the arrival of his successor, Ron Gallo. (Sally Rohrer / Santa Barbara Foundation photo)

If there’s one word that comes to mind when describing incoming Santa Barbara Foundation president and CEO Ron Gallo, it’s “optimistic.”

Ron Gallo
Ron Gallo
“I’m very optimistic, no matter what the newspapers say on any particular issue, that we can rise to the occasion and use the nonprofit sector to really engage in our lives,” Gallo said in an interview with Noozhawk.

It’s not the kind of optimism that world-weary cynics reserve for the young and naive. Gallo has earned a right to it: Starting out as a fundraiser for programs that benefited young adults with drug rehabilitation in 1979, he became the head of Rhode Island’s only community foundation, which, among other things, created a program that in five years ensured that 98 percent of the children in the state received adequate health care.

Along the way, he has led the Jesse Ball DuPont Fund, which specializes in issues affecting the South, where he took on housing and minority education.

It’s that positivity he hopes to build on when he starts his new job Dec. 8, when longtime Santa Barbara Foundation CEO Chuck Slosser hands over the reins to one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations.

Gallo’s first order of business?

“First, I want to not have even a hint of hubris that someone from 3,000 miles away is going to immediately understand the nuances of life in Santa Barbara,” said Gallo, who is grateful for the “great opportunity” to head up the Santa Barbara Foundation.

There are, however, issues common to nearly all communities in the country, he said, such as environment vs. development, and what he calls the “we/them” tendency of people that excludes those of different social classes and ethnicities.

“I’ve noticed that even though there is obvious wealth and beauty in Santa Barbara, there are homeless people on State Street,” he said. “I’ve heard about a growing gang violence issue in the area.”

Even the foundation’s $300 million endowment is not going to solve any single issue without community involvement, and that, according to Gallo, is where one of the strengths of a successful community foundation lies.

“I think the real issue for community foundations going forward is that they can play an even greater role in civic leadership ... they can be much more than a strategic grantmaker, they can really take on the role of galvanizing the community around the things that are important to the residents,” he said.

Gallo intends to develop relationships with other philanthropic groups, such as United Way of Santa Barbara County, which is working to gauge the area’s biggest needs.

He cautioned, however, that just because a community foundation can take a greater role in civic leadership doesn’t mean it should try to supplant the public sector. Rather, organizations such as the Santa Barbara Foundation work best in the role of the “agile servant,” able to work with a mix of structure and flexibility to adapt to changing community needs.

As he steps into Slosser’s huge shoes, Gallo will have the extra challenge of steering the foundation and its grantees through tricky financial waters. Even an organization as well-endowed as the Santa Barbara Foundation ought to be feeling the pinch of the current economy, let alone the nonprofits that rely on the foundation’s funding.

It can be done, he said, with the right amount of energy.

“If you can get people to get passionate about something,” he said, “the dollars will flow, the commitment increases and I think one of my prime responsibilities is to get people passionate about their community, about solving the problems through innovation and working together in partnership.”

If done well, philanthropy at its best can reach into the community for leaders in places not typically looked to for leadership and present opportunities for people to stay engaged with the system instead of feeling left out, he said.

“I’m truly of the belief that the instinct of Americans is to build community,” Gallo said. “We’ve been doing that for 400 years, and we’re not going to stop now.”

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at [email protected]

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >