Following a 64-year tradition, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted its 2013 Goleta’s Finest awards on Thursday night at Bacara Resort & Spa.

Several community members and businesses were honored for contributions that have helped enrich the Goleta community. Many past honorees were in attendance as well.

Emceed by Tony Vallejo, the Goleta Valley chamber’s board chairman, and chamber president and CEO Kristen Miller, the formal awards presentation and celebration followed hors d’oeuvres and a wine and cocktail hour.

Longtime Goleta resident Patricia Bragg, selected as Woman of the Year, was recognized for building the legacy of the Bragg Health Institute and her series of health and fitness seminars throughout the world. In fact, Bragg could not attend Thursday night’s festivities because she is on a speaking tour that includes Hawaii and Australia. Instead, she made a videotaped appearance from her Waikiki Beach hotel.

Dr. John Westerdahl, director of health science for Bragg, spoke on her behalf: “Patricia is an amazing woman. Her father, Paul C. Bragg, was the pioneer of the health food movement. Patricia carries on the legacy with Bragg Live Foods, the organic farm and her foundation, which are all headquartered in Goleta, right across the freeway on Winchester Canyon Road.”

Peter Jordano was honored as the Man of the Year for his civic leadership and as president and CEO of Jordano’s Inc. for more than 30 years. His lively performance brought down the house as he launched into an unscripted riff poking fun at his Italian heritage, his early days in the Goleta Valley and even his age.

Noting the presence of a large contingent of senior executives of Montecito Bank & Trust, on whose board he’s served for 40 years, he joked that he had been concerned they might be there to ask him to step down, “but they can’t make me now that I’m Goleta’s Man of the Year!”

Jordano also expressed his gratitude for the community’s longtime support of his company and its employees, and singled out the Goleta Valley chamber for particular praise, calling it “without a doubt, the strongest business organization in the three counties that we do business in.”

Mike Panesis, named Higher Education Educator of the Year, was honored for his leadership of UC Santa Barbara’s Technology Management Program. Liz Barnitz was lauded as K-12 Educator of the Year for her leadership at El Camino Elementary School in the Goleta Union School District. Student of the Year Alexis Flores received the award for her academic and extracurricular activities at San Marcos High School and in the Goleta community.

Montecito Bank & Trust, honored as Large Business of the Year, was celebrated for its longtime support of the community through giving programs such as Anniversary Grants and its Community Dividends program.

Joan Rakowski

Volunteer of the Year honoree Joan Rakowski with Dr. John Westerdahl of the Bragg Health Institute. Westerdahl spoke on behalf of Woman of the Year Patricia Bragg, who is on a speaking tour and could not attend Thursday night’s awards ceremony. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

Bank president and CEO Janet Garufis was joined on the stage with bank founder Michael Towbes.

“This is the guy who made it happen,” Garufis said. “Now we have $1 billion in assets.”

Towbes concluded: “Banking isn’t about money; it’s about the people.”

Garufis noted that Montecito Bank & Trust has long had a branch in Goleta, at 5658 Calle Real, and not long ago moved much of the bank’s back-office operations to Goleta “along with 60 jobs.” Last year, she boasted, the bank opened its newest branch at Hollister Avenue and Storke Road, “complete with drive-through lanes for customer convenience.”

The Small Business of the Year award went to The Frame Up’s Glenn Avolio, who is vice president of the Calle Real Merchants Association through which he founded the Caring and Sharing Day at the Calle Real Shopping Center.

Anne Pazier was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year for her success in establishing Santa Barbara Gift Baskets and for her work with numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

Joan Rakowski was honored as Volunteer of the Year for her dedication to the Goleta Valley Historical Society as well as St. Mark’s University Parish.

“Joan is a little vague about how many years she has volunteered with us, but it is over 20,” said Dacia Harwood, events coordinator for the Goleta Valley Historical Society. “She comes in twice a week and does everything for us. She serves as a docent, maintains the archives and library, and helps to change the displays and collections. She just spent two days putting up the decorations for our Stow House Christmas.”

The Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation was feted as Nonprofit of the Year for its commitment to medical care in Goleta. The award was presented by Venoco Inc., and Dr. Larry Harter spoke about the foundation’s continuing and ambitious plans for the hospital renovations.

Platinum Presenting Sponsors included Bacara Resort & Spa, The Bank of Santa Barbara, Business First Bank, Cox Communications, Deckers Outdoor Corp., MarBorg Industries, Montecito Bank & Trust, Spherion, The Towbes Group and Venoco Inc.

Supporting Sponsors were numerous, including Noozhawk; ATK Space Systems; Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf  LLP; Brown & Brown Insurance; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP; CenCal Health; Citrix Online; Community West Bank; the Couvillion family; FLIR Commercial Vision Systems; Impulse Advanced Communications; Jordano’s; Jim Knight; Latitude 34˚ TechnologiesMarmalade Café; Pacifica Commercial Realty;; Santa Barbara Airport; Tony Vallejo CPA; UC Santa Barbara; Westar Associates; and Wilson Printing.

Spotted in the crowd were Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves and his wife, Debby; Goleta City Councilman Michael Bennett; former Goleta City Councilwoman Jean Blois; Tom Bolton, executive editor of Noozhawk, and his wife, Joan, principal of Santa Barbara Garden Design; David and Brian Borgatello of MarBorg Industries; Claudia Bratton, executive director of the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration; 1995 Goleta Woman of the Year Connie Burns; Warren Butler of Marmalade Café and the Butler Event Center; Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and his wife, Gina, executive director of the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County; Kim Clark, vice president of business development at Noozhawk; Sarah Clark of Cox; Bacara general manager Kathleen Cochran; former Goleta City Councilwoman Margaret Connell; former Santa Barbara Unified School District trustee Susan Deacon; Kirsten Deshler, government relations director at UCSB; Michael Ditmore, principal of The Novim Group; Don Donaldson, principal engineer at Penfield & Smith; Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley and her husband, John; Goleta City Councilman Ed Easton; entrepreneur and philanthropist Virgil Elings; Goleta City Councilman Jim Farr; Joanne Funari of The Bank of Santa Barbara; Russ Goodman and Steve Fedde of Cabrillo Business ParkDr. Saida Hamdani of Samsum Clinic; Santa Barbara City Councilman-elect Gregg HartMark Ingalls, general manager of Camino Real Marketplace; Gerd and Pete Jordano; Janice and Jim Knight; Ken Knight, executive director of Goleta Valley BeautifulTrevor Large of Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray and his wife, Marjorie, of Deco Marketing Group; Steve Leider of Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services; Camino Real Marketplace developer Mark Linehan; Doug Lynch, executive director of the Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet (GEM); Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen and his wife, Missy; Bibi Moezzi of Business First Bank; Lynda Nahra, president of Pacific Western Bank; Eric Onnen, CEO and co-founder of Santa Barbara Airbus, and his wife, Kelly, board chairwoman of Food from the Heart; Eloy Ortega, CEO of The Bank of Santa Barbara; Goleta City Councilwoman Paula PerotteMcDonald’s owner Dave Peterson; Brian Robinson and Jim Youngson of Terrain Consulting and Youngson’s wife, CPA Carola Nicholson of Nicholson & Schwartz; Kimberly Schizas; Kate Schwab of the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization; Goleta City Manager Dan Singer; Emma Torres and Randy Weiss of Union Bank; Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf; and Craig Zimmerman, president of The Towbes Group.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.