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Chelsea Duffy Knows Santa Barbara Partners in Education from the Inside Out

New executive director a familiar face as she charts fresh course to connect businesses, educators and community volunteers

Chelsea Duffy was recently named executive director of Santa Barbara Partners in Education, which matches up school classroom needs with community volunteers, many of them from area businesses. Since she joined the organization five years ago, she’s seen a rapid growth in the number of volunteers and teacher requests. “That’s probably one of the best things about working for Partners, we’re meeting real needs,” she says.
Chelsea Duffy was recently named executive director of Santa Barbara Partners in Education, which matches up school classroom needs with community volunteers, many of them from area businesses. Since she joined the organization five years ago, she’s seen a rapid growth in the number of volunteers and teacher requests. “That’s probably one of the best things about working for Partners, we’re meeting real needs,” she says.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

There’s a new force behind the Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteer and internship programs as five-year staff member Chelsea Duffy takes over as executive director.

This unique Santa Barbara County Education Office initiative coordinates with local businesses, educators and community volunteers to help support schools and students.

Duffy has worked closely with the two previous executive directors, Michelle Magnusson and Ben Romo, who prepared her well for the position, she said.

The organization’s programs were just starting out when the new University of San Diego graduate joined Partners, and she’s seen the number of volunteers and requests from teachers grow every year since.

“That’s probably one of the best things about working for Partners, we’re meeting real needs,” Duffy explained.

“Teachers come to up with requests, not the other way around.”

Demand is always growing, with 250 active requests, but staffing is more unpredictable with the reliance on AmeriCorps. Partners in Education currently has just one of the usual five spots filled and is hoping for many more, Duffy noted.

Two full-time staff members recently left, Magnusson and program manager Lucille Ramirez, but new employees have been hired and are getting trained.

Partners in Education works carefully to match up volunteers with educators so the experience is rewarding and meaningful for the volunteers and energizes the teachers and students.

The internship program connects local students with businesses, sometimes inspiring students to pursue a career here.

“The business community really has the opportunity to shape its future workforce,” Duffy said.

Of the students who participate in the internship program, 100 percent of them say they want to live and work in Santa Barbara in the future, she added.

As executive director, Duffy intends to concentrate on improving existing programs for now, not starting new ones.

“I’m just so excited,” she said. “I love what I do. This is my dream job.

“There’s so much room for exciting growth within what we already have.”

One new thing in the coming year will be an improved website that includes more information and events calendars, Duffy said.

Even with Partners in Education’s tremendous growth, there are still some schools that are unfamiliar with the extent of the available opportunities. A new website could help make more of those connections, she said.

Click here for more information about Santa Barbara Partners in Education, or call 805.964.4710 x4401. Click here for more information about Partners in Education volunteer opportunities.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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