Committed volunteers and community leaders Jon Clark, president of the James S. Bower Foundation, and Janet Garufis, president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, were feted as the 2017 Man and Woman of the Year at the annual luncheon held in the Coral Casino Ballroom at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Montecito.
The event marked 74 years that the award has been presented. The Santa Barbara Foundation hosted the event honoring Garufis and Clark for their volunteer work and leadership positions at many nonprofit organizations.
Santa Barbara Foundation board chairman James Morouse opened the program and welcomed the 200-plus attendees, who enjoyed the breathtaking view and paradise weather on the Coral Casino patio before convening in the ballroom.
Ron Gallo, E.D., president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, followed with the awards presentation.
“As a community and a society, we need to be curious and empathetic,” he said. “What does it feel like to be a veteran and not be able to afford insulin? How does it feel to be the last person to run a generations-owned family farm because you don’t have workers? What does a black man feel when he sees police lights in his rearview mirror when he is driving at night? It is volunteers like Janet and Jon who ask questions like these and try to find solutions and make a difference by volunteering.”
Cottage Health President/CEO Ron Werft introduced Clark.
“Jon is a volunteer who puts together creative collaborations to try to solve community problems,” he said. “He is a great storyteller. He makes tackling formidable tasks look effortless.”
Clark has dedicated his leadership and support to organizations that sustain medical excellence, foster high-quality early education and increase access to locally sourced food. A UCSB and Santa Barbara High School graduate, he has volunteered for Cottage Health, the Community Environmental Council, Storyteller Children’s Center, the Alliance for Living and Dying Well, Direct Relief and The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region.
While on the Santa Barbara Foundation board, Clark worked with Just Communities’ Institute for Equity in Education to promote teachers’ cultural proficiency and promoted the Santa Barbara Unified School District's Program for Effective Access to College.
Maryan Schall, community leader and past Woman of the Year honoree, introduced Garufis as the 2017 Woman of the Year.
“Janet is committed on a deep level to what she believes in,” Schall said. “She reads to little girls at Girls Inc. and is very involved in United Way’s Fun in the Sun. She teaches financial literacy at local high schools and has played a significant role at the American Heart Association and the Scholarship Foundation.”
Garufis’ commitment to leadership and volunteerism has supported many nonprofit organizations, including United Way of Santa Barbara County, Sansum Clinic, the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Music Academy of the West, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce and many others.
“Why do I volunteer? It just feels like the right thing to do,” Garufis said. “I have the dream job of being president of Montecito Bank & Trust, which is so committed to corporate philanthropy and Mike’s [Michael Towbes] vision to make the community we serve a better place to live and work. Philanthropy is a responsibility that we all share.
“I grew up in a family that was very committed to volunteerism. We spent a lot of time doing things that were helpful to the community.”
Among the many family members who were present to celebrate the awards to Clark and Garufis was Garufis’ son, Matt Bertolet, who traveled from Pittsburgh to see his mother receive her honor.
The Santa Barbara Foundation was established in 1928 by Max Fleischmann and a forward-thinking group who wanted to enrich the lives of people from Santa Maria to Carpinteria. For more than eight decades, the Santa Barbara Foundation has been a solver of problems, a partner in philanthropy, and a critical supporter of community organizations and efforts. The foundation’s assets have grown to more than $300 million, and it is the largest grant maker in Santa Barbara County.
— Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.