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Roger Aceves, Karen Ramsdell Feted as Goleta’s Finest Man and Woman of the Year

Goleta Chamber of Commerce awards include Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, FLIR Systems, Apeel Sciences and Volunteer of Year Lisa Rivas

Roger Aceves, a three-term Goleta city councilman and longtime civic leader and community volunteer, was named 2017 Goleta’s Finest Man of the Year during the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s annual celebration Saturday at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara. “I’m extremely humbled and honored to join my colleagues as Man of the Year,” he says. Click to view larger
Roger Aceves, a three-term Goleta city councilman and longtime civic leader and community volunteer, was named 2017 Goleta’s Finest Man of the Year during the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s annual celebration Saturday at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara. “I’m extremely humbled and honored to join my colleagues as Man of the Year,” he says. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Outstanding individuals, businesses, nonprofit organizations and a public safety organization were celebrated for their community contributions Saturday during the 2017 Goleta’s Finest Awards.

Sponsored by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, the 68th annual gala began with cocktails and a buffet to start the evening at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s packed ballroom. Many of the more than 400 guests donned formal attire for the affair.

“Every year this is a moving and special night,” said Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the 600-member Goleta chamber.

“We are blessed as a community to get together once a year and look up to the horizon, to celebrate our leaders, our colleagues who are ascending to new heights, our founders, our oldest businesses and our young student of the year, and the innovators in our midst.”

Miller opened the program with a tribute to the legacy of the late Michael Towbes, one of the area’s most successful businessmen and a tireless civic leader and philanthropist. Towbes, 87, died earlier this year after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.

Goleta chamber board chairwoman Hallie Avolio, sales and marketing director at family-owned Latitude 34˚ Technologies, served as the event’s emcee.

The 2017 Goleta’s Finest winners were:

Man of the Year

Goleta City Councilman Roger Aceves was recognized for his commitment to public service and giving back to the community, as well as his support for local businesses.

“I’m extremely humbled and honored to join my colleagues as Man of the Year,” he told the assembled guests.

On Wednesday, Aceves will begin his 12th year on the City Council. He has never missed a council meeting.

He said his door is “always open to make Goleta the Goodland, the best city in the world.”

A lifetime resident and community champion, Aceves has twice served as mayor during his time on the council, which followed a 30-year career in in law enforcement with the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s and Santa Barbara police departments.

He was El Presidente of Old Spanish Days-Fiesta in 2001 and was a founder of Goleta’s Fiesta Ranchera. He also has served on the boards of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Goleta Valley Historical Society, the Goleta Old Town Community Association and the 19th Agricultural District Association, which runs Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. He currently is board chairman of the Goleta Elks Lodge No. 613.

Aceves and his wife, Debbie, last year championed a community campaign that raised $22,000 for Rancho La Patera & Stow House.

Woman of the Year

Karen Ramsdell, the retired, longtime director of the Santa Barbara Airport, was honored for her dedication to aviation, education and historical preservation.

Karen Ramsdell was honored Saturday as the Goleta’s Finest Woman of the Year. The longtime former director of the Santa Barbara Airport led the $63 million renovation and upgrade of the passenger terminal, and has been active in genealogical and historical preservation causes since her retirement in 2013. Click to view larger
Karen Ramsdell was honored Saturday as the Goleta’s Finest Woman of the Year. The longtime former director of the Santa Barbara Airport led the $63 million renovation and upgrade of the passenger terminal, and has been active in genealogical and historical preservation causes since her retirement in 2013. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

“I’m deeply moved and honored to receive this award,” she said. “I was in public service for most of my working life, and it was lively, and I’m proud.”

After working 29 years at the airport and 37 years of public service with the City of Santa Barbara, the longtime Goleta resident retired in 2013. The biggest accomplishment of her tenure was her leadership during the $63 million renovation of the airport’s passenger terminal.

Ramsdell’s passion for historical preservation helped her spearhead the relocation and refurbishment of the Earle Ovington Historical Terminal at the airport.

In retirement, she has served as president of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society, and is a past board member and president of the Goleta Valley Historical Society.

Educator of the Year

Dos Pueblos High School teacher John Dent was acknowledged as a passionate and talented leader of the school’s media news department, and recognized for motivating his students to continue to innovate and develop professional journalism skills.

He chairs the school’s Career Technical Education department and is the adviser for the national award-winning yearbook and the student-run DPNews.

Nonprofit of the Year

The United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County was honored for its impact on the lives of children in the community.

The nonprofit youth development agency serves youths ages 5-18 years old, at nine locations throughout the county, including in Old Town Goleta.

No child is turned away because of their economic situation.

Volunteer of the Year

Lisa Rivas was honored for her longtime advocacy for education, the community and engagement with various local nonprofits.

In 2014, she stepped up to rebuild the Goleta Education Foundation with the goal of transforming the all-volunteer organization into a foundation that secures funding for programs to ensure students in the district have access to necessary resources.

Rivas has served on several nonprofit boards, including the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Teacher’s Fund and The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region, and is a former chairwoman of the Goleta Lemon Festival organized by the Goleta chamber.

Student of the Year

Dos Pueblos High senior Lupe Simon was honored for her academic success and determination to push herself outside of her comfort zone. Upon graduation, she plans to attend college — something she was unsure she could achieve.

Lupe Simon, a senior at Dos Pueblos High School, was named the Goleta’s Finest Student of the Year at the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala. Click to view larger
Lupe Simon, a senior at Dos Pueblos High School, was named the Goleta’s Finest Student of the Year at the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

She spoke movingly of her parents, Sandra Calixto and Aurelio Simon.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am right now without my parents,” she said, smiling at them as she spoke. “I thank them for pushing me to be the person I am.”

Small Business of the Year

Santa Barbara-based Buynak FauverArchbald Spray LLP was recognized for its dedication to Goleta and commitment to ensuring that essential local nonprofit organizations have access to legal knowledge. The 13-attorney firm and its staff are prodigious volunteers in the community.

Attorney Trevor Large, a Goleta chamber board member, accepted the award on behalf of his fellow partners, joking that it was unusual for organizations to bestow awards on lawyers.

Large Business of the Year

FLIR Systems was honored as one of Goleta’s largest employers and a leader in the infrared market, as well as a pioneer for lean manufacturing.

Started as Indigo Systems in the early 2000s before being acquired by FLIR, the company has become a leader in uncooled infrared devices. FLIR achieved widespread acclaim after the 2013 Boston Marathon terrorist bombing when its infrared technology was used to identify a bombing suspect hiding underneath a tarp on a boat.

Innovative Business of the Year

Brighten Solar was recognized for changing the way solar technology is delivered by creating customized solar solutions, providing quality products and continuing to focus on spreading renewable energy.

The Goleta business has developed systems for commercial space, residential areas and nonprofits across the Central Coast.

Entrepreneur of the Year

Apeel Sciences was honored for its use of plant-based technology, helping to eliminate food spoilage and reducing reliance on chemicals.

The company is committed to being a technological and environmental leader in the agricultural industry.

Community Impact Award

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara was recognized for its 55-year history of supporting Santa Barbara County students in their pursuit of higher education.

In May, the foundation gave out $8.4 million in scholarships to 2,688 students, in the process surpassing the $100 million mark in scholarships awarded since its founding in 1962.

Special Recognition

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department was honored for its effectiveness, regional strength and community attentiveness — especially during this year’s devastating flooding and wildfires.

“When emergencies do happen, it tends to bring out the best in people here, and we have great relationships with all sectors of the public and private,” Fire Chief Eric Peterson said. “We have great relationships with all the public safety agencies in the county.”

The evening’s Platinum presenting sponsors were American Riviera Bank, Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray, Community West Bank, Cox, Impulse Advanced Communications, Montecito Bank & Trust, Pacific Premier Bank, Rabobank, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara Airbus, Spherion and The Towbes Group.

Gold sponsors were Noozhawk, Cabrillo Business Park, Courtyard Marriott Goleta, Mariposa at Ellwood Shores, Marriott Residence Inn and Signature Flight Support.

Silver sponsors were Brown & Brown Insurance, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Deckers Brands, FLIR Systems, KARL STORZ Imaging, Latitude 34˚ Technologies, LogMeIn, MarBorg Industries, Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara Independent and Union Bank.

Click here for more information about the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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