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Junior League of Santa Barbara Announces Woman of the Year Finalists

Lynn Karlson (Courtesy photo)
Megan Rheinschild (Courtesy photo)

The Junior League of Santa Barbara (JLSB) is proud to announce two finalists for Woman of the Year: Lynn Karlson and Megan Rheinschild.

The Woman of the Year is honored by the JLSB for her achievements in alignment with the organization’s mission to promote volunteerism, develop the potential of woman and improve the local community ​through effective leadership and action. 

JLSB will name one of the finalists “Woman of the Year” at its Annual Spring Gala - Masquerade Ball Saturday, March 12, at the Coral Casino.

Both finalists have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to our community that qualify them for this prestigious honor.

Lynn Karlson, YMCA Youth and Family Services executive director, was drawn to helping others from a young age. She holds a master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics and first started her career as an economist with the Federal Reserve, later moving into public affairs. 

Karlson moved to the Santa Barbara area in 1989 and has over 29 years’ experience in organizational management and governance. She has held various leadership roles with a number of local nonprofits, and her economics background plays a key role in her ability to be a steward of these organizations.

Over the years, Karlson has volunteered her time in the community with organizations such as the Nonprofit Support Center, Partnership for the Children of Santa Barbara County, The Arts Fund of Santa Barbara and Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Since 2008, Karlson has led Youth and Family Services YMCA, an independent branch of the Channel Islands YMCA, which comprises four programs dedicated to pre-teens, teens and young adults (18-42):

» St. George Family Youth Center provides quality after school programs, leadership, enrichment and recreational opportunities to youth living in and around the Isla Vista community.

» My Home offers supportive transitional housing to former foster youth ages 18-21 that are facing homelessness.

»Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter provides temporary shelter for foster children, runaway, homeless and at-risk youth ages 10-17.

» Support and Outreach Services reaches out to youth living on the streets of our community.

From a dedicated volunteer to a dedicated nonprofit professional, Karlson embodies the essence of volunteerism as well as community service.

The second finalist, Megan Rheinschild, studied at UCSB and the National Autonomous University in Mexico City and received her degree in sociology and Spanish from UCSB in 1991.

Rheinschild has been employed in the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Assistance Program since 1994 and been the director of the Countywide Victim Witness Assistance Program since 1997. 

She is responsible for oversight of a program of dedicated Victim Advocates who annually serve over 3,500 victims of violent crime and their family members countywide. 

In addition to management of the District Attorney’s Office Victim-Witness Assistance Program, she oversees the Underserved Victim Outreach and Advocacy Program; the Life and Annuity Consumer Protection Program, which outreaches to seniors susceptible to financial abuse; and the Victim Compensation and Criminal Restitution Recovery Contracts with the State of California. 

As of January 2008 Megan assumed oversight of the Countywide Sexual Assault Response Team, a collaborative partnership with the Public Health Department, CALM and North County and Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Centers to provide medical-legal forensic exams and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault at the time. 

In 2013 the District Attorney’s Office held the first Human Trafficking Task Force Meeting, which Rheinschild facilitates. Since the inception of the Human Trafficking Task Force, the District Attorney’s office and Victim Assistance Program secured grant funding and developed a program employing a full time victim advocate who exclusively serves suspected victims of human trafficking. 

Several multi-disciplinary efforts including the Junior League are now underway to address the complex needs of trafficked victims in our county.

In addition to her local responsibilities, Rheinschild is on the board of the California Crime Victim Assistance Association and is chair of the Statewide Victim Witness Assistance Training Committee. She also serves on the board of directors of the Santa Barbara YMCA.

Both finalists are fantastic examples of dedicating one’s self toward helping others and bettering their community through effective action and leadership. 

They both focus their philanthropic efforts with populations identified in the JLSB’s newly-adopted focus area — at-risk children, foster youth and human trafficking victims — making them incredibly qualified to be named Woman of the Year.

The Woman of the Year will be celebrated at the JLSB’s Annual Gala - Masquerade Ball, and the named recipient will receive an $800 donation on behalf of JLSB to the organization of her choosing.  

The Annual Gala is designed to entertain all while encouraging attendees to learn more about the JLSB’s focus area of improving the lives of at-risk young women by educating and empowering them to reach their full potential while working to prevent exploitation and injustice in our community.  

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.jlsantabarbara.org or call 805.963.2704.

Lindsay Cortina represents the Junior League of Santa Barbara.

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