Jackie Carrera
Jackie Carrera, new president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, says she believes the COVID-19 pandemic ‘has highlighted how strong Santa Barbara County communities are.’ (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara Foundation recently announced that Jackie Carrera has been named the new president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation (SBF).

She took over as interim CEO of the 92-year-old community foundation in January, succeeding Ronald V. Gallo, who led the foundation for 11 years and continues to serve as CEO emeritus.

“The recent pandemic has highlighted how strong Santa Barbara County communities are – how resilient, how compassionate,” Carrera told Noozhawk in a recent interview. “This crisis has highlighted our interconnectedness.

“Our challenge is to build on what we are doing together now. The Santa Barbara Foundation has collaborated in new ways with our donors, funders, stakeholders, and nonprofit partners. Our strength in the future will come from those wonderful partnerships.”

The Santa Barbara Foundation, United Way of Santa Barbara County, and Hutton Parker Foundation are leading a countywide collaborative with members of the Foundation Roundtable to provide assistance to individuals and families, as well as organizations actively engaged in assistance efforts for members of the community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over $2.6 million has been raised towards this effort. Collectively, collaborative members have directed $6.6 million to Santa Barbara County individuals and nonprofits. 

“To date, we received $4.5 million in nonprofit requests and over 2,000 requests for financial assistance,” Carrera said. “We have been able to provide nearly $1.1 million to nonprofits and $600,000 to individuals so far, prioritizing those organizations that are providing basic services like food, shelter, and emergency services.

“SBF and its partners are now circling back to many organizations to assess where they are now. Many nonprofits in this county are still struggling, and we need to do what we can to make sure they survive. No two organizations are alike and we are taking a very individualized approach.”

United Way of Santa Barbara County is providing grants to individuals for those disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the pandemic. 

Santa Barbara Foundation and Hutton Parker Foundation are providing grants up to $25,000 to nonprofit organizations serving all regions of Santa Barbara County. Grant awards are prioritized in the following order:

» Organizations that are actively engaging in COVID-19 assistance efforts

» Organizations that are adapting to continue to provide essential services

» Organizations that have reduced services due to COVID-19 and need general operating support in the interim.

“Jackie was just what the board of trustees was looking for in our next president and CEO,” said board chair Pamela Gann. She is the first female president/CEO in the organization’s history.

Carrera came to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles two years ago, where she set up a consulting firm to assist nonprofits achieve the highest standards in nonprofit management, governance, and ethics, to join SBF as Chief Revenue and Business Development Officer.

After a national search during which the search team reviewed over 90 strong candidates, Carrera was the ultimate and final choice for president and CEO.

Her strong background in finance and business and nearly 30 years’ experience as a nonprofit leader were important during the recovery from the Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow when she helped marshal community resources, including facilitating a loan guarantee to support The Partnership for Resilient Communities’ net project in Montecito.

These skills have also been utilized in the past two months as the Santa Barbara Foundation and other partners step up to assist during  the COVID19 pandemic in Santa Barbara County.

After graduating from Loyola University in Maryland with a degree in finance, Carrera worked as a community organizer for Maryland Save Our Streams and as President and CEO of the Parks & People Foundation in Baltimore.

Under her leadership for 22 years, the Foundation grew from an annual budget of $440,000 to over $8 million a year and developed several national models.

“We viewed our mission, which was focused on recreation, parks and the environment, as a vehicle to address city-wide issues like income disparity, workforce development, juvenile justice, education, climate change, and cultural relationships,” Carrera said.

“By putting our mission in context, our organization was relevant, addressing critical issues. Combined with a business model that prioritized diverse revenue streams and partnerships, we were able to grow and thrive for many years.

No doubt the past two short years that Carrera has worked at the Santa Barbara Foundation have been momentous and very busy.

She said that she has always practiced yoga and that helped her deal with the challenges of working for a nonprofit and raising three children, who are now in college or working. Her youngest daughter is graduating from USC in just a few weeks.

She and her husband and kids are big outdoor enthusiasts and enjoy running, camping, and skiing.

“The Santa Barbara community and the Santa Barbara Foundation are treasures. It is an honor to serve in this position,” Carrera said.