Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 3:29 am | Fair 63º


Local News

Geoff Green Starting New Adventure as SBCC Foundation Director

He's transitioning from his 18-year tenure with the Fund for Santa Barbara

For the past 18 years, Geoff Green has been the face of the Fund for Santa Barbara, a nonprofit group focused on social-justice issues.

But early next year, Green will begin a new journey as the leader of the Santa Barbara City College Foundation, a private organization that helps fund scholarships, programs, tutoring and other areas essential to the local community college.

Green will start his new job Feb. 9, and in the meantime is transitioning from the leadership at the Fund for Santa Barbara, which will be searching for its own new director in his absence.

Noozhawk sat down with Green last week to talk about his past in the Santa Barbara community and his future.

Green has deep roots in Santa Barbara, which began at UCSB, where he studied theater, geology and evolutionary biology, leaving school a few credits short of graduating to take what he calls his "dream job" — the position of park ranger at Yosemite National Park, where he worked to educate visitors to the park.

Prior to that, Green served on the Isla Vista Parks and Recreation Department and was elected president of the Associated Students at UCSB.

After several years of hiring freezes, the Yosemite instituted permanent budget cuts, and Green found himself back in Santa Barbara, after several mentors had recommended he call Nancy Weiss at the Fund for Santa Barbara.

He was hired as Weiss's executive assistant in 1997, and the two of them made up the total of the staff at the organization at that time.

Green recalls their first project while he was at the fund — a group of renters successfully suing local landlord Dario Pini for untenable living conditions.

During that same time, Green recalls attending a retreat for the Downtown Organization at the Montecito Country Club, just a few miles from where those renters lived.

"Those places are barely a mile apart," he said. " The fund's job is connecting those worlds."

During Green's time at the fund, it went from two employees and an annual budget of $150,000 per year, to six employees and a $1.1 million budget.

"It does critical work and it's a great organization, but I'm very much ready for a new adventure," he said of the fund.

SBCC's mission is an important one for Green.

"I come from a family of teachers," he said, adding that he enjoys his role as occasional speaker to classes at UCSB and Antioch University.

The Santa Barbara City College Foundation is key to raising money for new programs, and that the college itself has worked to democratize education, making it accessible for everyone.

"It's not just a neighborhood college, it serves in its capacity as a gateway for higher education," he said, adding that the foundation approached him about the job.

"There is a lot of love for the college," he said.

He's been able to use the past five directors as a resource, and plans to continue reaching out to them for their institutional knowledge.

"They're all just expert fundraisers," he said.

Green's tenure begins as the college is facing some critical issues, including how to deal with housing and the impacts on the lower Westside neighborhood, and the aftermath of bond measures that voters did not approve in the fall to make improvements to the campus.

A Lower Westside Task Force has been formed to discuss the housing issues and has been in talks with the college, and Green said the foundation may have a role to play in those talks.

"That's a place where the foundation may be a critical partner," he said.

As for the bond measures failing,"That was the community saying we still have some questions on this," he said. "It's up to SBCC to make the case."

Green admits the last five years have brought challenges for the college.

A leadership transition from former president Andreea Serban to Lori Gaskin; adult education woes; and tumult with the college's board of trustees have all been in the works.

Green himself served as moderator to public forums discussing how to proceed with adult education programs, a contentious process that took place over several years. 

"I've had glimpses of it," he said of the conversation about adult education.

Four staff from the Santa Barbara Foundation are now working with Green's team at SBCC, as well as others from Partners in Education and other groups.  

It's a staff of 12 and they're ready "to jump right into the big issues," Green said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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