Friday, July 20 , 2018, 5:07 am | Overcast 66º


Santa Barbara Celebrates Man & Woman of the Year, Ken Saxon and Patricia MacFarlane

Nearly two dozen past recipients join celebration sponsored by Santa Barbara Foundation, Noozhawk, KEYT and KDB Radio

More than 200 guests were on the edge of their seats at the 70th annual Santa Barbara Foundation Man & Woman of the Year Awards held in the La Pacifica Ballroom at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara for a dinner and gala announcing one of our city’s most prestigious honors.

The stunning seaside location brought curious onlookers and excited community leaders together to honor 70 years of volunteerism by individuals who make positive and significant impacts in Santa Barbara.

The evening’s emcee, KEYT news anchor Paula Lopez, started the festivities and welcomed guests with background on the history and principles behind the coveted awards.

“We all know these folks certainly don’t do it for the recognition but for the love of their fellow humankind that we live side by side with in this beautiful community, constantly working to better and improve all our lives,” she said.

Lopez also brought attention to the large guest list of 20 past recipients of the award and spoke to the impressive history of more than 120 former honorees, such as Harold Chase (1942), Thomas Storke (1949), Judge John Rickard (1969), Charles Stearns (1977), Mildred Pinheiro (1986), Michael Towbes (1994), Pierre Claeyssens (1998) and Leslie Ridley-Tree (2003).

Presidents have nationally recognized nine of the past recipients and eight have had parks, buildings and a society name for them. Some of these wonderful guardianships of local beauty include the downtown tree project, Richard Polsky (1952); preservation of local trails and public access, Vie Obern (1989); and preservation of the Wilcox property, now known as the Douglas Family Preserve, Jean Schuyler (1997).

Some of the former recipients in attendance included last year’s Man of the Year, Clifford Sponsel; Penny Jenkins (1993); Maryan Schall (2008); Palmer Jackson Sr. (1997); and Peter MacDougall (2000).

Lopez summed up the contributions of these talented community leaders who have donated their time to enrich the lives of the Santa Barbara community.

“The people here tonight are all of those in attendance who have over these 70 years done the work, used their heart and their powerful will — and usually a lot of elbow grease and maybe a lot of arm twisting,” said Lopez. “And they certainly possessed the power of persuasion to do it. Many of these people are among us tonight, an especially high number I think, in recognition of this special anniversary.”

Next, Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, spoke on behalf of the organization with a theme entitled, “Beyond Politics ... Volunteerism and Leadership.”

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Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery. (Judy Crowell / Noozhawk photo)

“For the 70th consecutive year, we gather to honor two of our neighbors who the community believes represent the highest values and best practices of caring and giving,” Gallo said. “Santa Barbara is well known for its special and powerful connectivity that comes from community engagement, wherever one chooses to get involved.”

During dinner, the closely guarded secret was revealed by the Santa Barbara Foundation with media partners Noozhawk, KEYT and KDB-FM, announcing Ken Saxon and Patricia MacFarlane as the 2011 Man & Woman of the Year.

The recipients were each selected from a diverse pool of candidates for unwavering dedication and long-standing commitment to volunteerism in the community.

Saxon received the Man of the Year Award as a champion of student aid and educational enrichment, serving locally with the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Courage to Lead, and The Eleos Foundation.

“This is where I’ve met some of my favorite people and some of my closest friends, through my community service here,” he told Noozhawk. “I know a lot of the people in this room through my work with a lot of the people in this room. so to receive this honor in this community with all of these people here tonight is very special to me.”

And Saxon was granted an additional surprise from his family, who joined him to celebrate the honor, including his parents, Freddie and Bill Saxon.

“To have my children and my parents — who came from the East Coast to surprise me — was very, very special, too,” he said.

In 1996, Saxon and his wife, Jo, and their twins moved to Santa Barbara from the Bay Area after he sold his company, First American Records Management (FARM). Upon his arrival, he immediately began his local nonprofit work by volunteering for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. In 2009, he joined the board of trustees for Santa Barbara Middle School, followed by nine years as a trustee at the Santa Barbara Foundation. Courage to Lead, now in its fourth year, is another of his contributions that is designed to support nonprofit executive leaders, and his experience also includes The Eleos Foundation, which is committed to eradicating extreme poverty.

The Woman of the Year Award was presented to MacFarlane, who also moved to Santa Barbara in the mid-1990s from New York with her husband, John, and their two sons. In New York, MacFarlane was a vice president at JP Morgan Securities and she joined the board of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in 2000. She has also been active with the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation since 2000 and began volunteering two years later with the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. Crane Country Day School has also been graced with her support as a member of its finance committee and science advisory board.

A very surprised MacFarlane told Noozhawk that even though she’s a great contributor to the community it’s the community that sets the precedent and gives back so much more.

“I feel like I get so much more out of it in my heart than what I put into it, and it really pays back tenfold,” she said. “And, honestly, there’s a culture here and everyone, no matter what the age, no matter someone’s socio-economic status, or what they do, ... everybody participates and it makes Santa Barbara a great place.”

Established in 1928, the Santa Barbara Foundation is a community foundation and one of the largest private sources of funding for area agencies, nonprofit organizations and college-bound students to enrich the lives of the people of Santa Barbara County.

“Volunteerism is crucial to keeping people, communities and businesses healthy and productive,” said Gallo. “We should all be proud to have people like Ken Saxon and Patty MacFarlane in our midst.”

The 69th Annual Man & Woman of the Year event was sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, Noozhawk, KEYT and KDB-FM with support from Montecito Bank & Trust.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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