The Santa Barbara Unified School Board is welcoming a new member as it says goodbye to two others. 

Gabe Escobedo will start serving his four-year term representing District 1 on Monday. He won the seat during the November election.

Mr. Escobedo earned a Bachelor’s degree at California State University, San Marcos before earning a Master’s degree at St. Mary’s College of California. He works at UCSB as an Intramural Coordinator, overseeing an 18,000-participant program with a $600,000+ budget. Mr. Escobedo helped manage an evacuation center at UCSB during the Thomas Fire. He’s also served on the Planning and Community Formation Commissions at the City of Santa Barbara for the past 3 years. Mr. Escobedo is a member of the Board of Directors for Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) and Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) as well.

Mr. Escobedo will be sworn in on Monday, December 12 board meeting. 

Board President Rose Muñoz is returning for another four-year term after winning her re-election. Ms. Muñoz is a Santa Barbara native who holds a Master’s in Social Work (MSW). Before joining the board, Ms. Muñoz volunteered for a Parent Teacher Association and was involved in the formation of the Equity and Excellence Committee at Dos Pueblos High School.

“We want to thank Board members Rose Muñoz and Gabe Escobedo for their service to the district. We look forward to their leadership as we continue to serve all students in the community,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, the district’s superintendent.

Mr. Escobedo is replacing Kate Ford, who chose to not run for re-election.

Ms. Ford was elected to the board in 2018 after a lifelong career in education. She was an English and drama teacher for 15 years before becoming a school principal/director for 20 years in San Jose, Stockton, Phoenix, and, most recently, Peabody Elementary School in Santa Barbara.  After her time on the board, Ms. Ford will be serving on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum and volunteering at district programs like VADA.

Ms. Ford will be honored for her service on the Santa Barbara Unified School Board Monday alongside Laura Capps, who stepped down on November 30.

Ms. Capps will now be serving the community as a Santa Barbara County Supervisor. Ms. Capps was first elected to the board in 2016 as part of her career in public service which includes managing a public affairs practice collaborating with non-profit organizations on issues of climate, poverty, immigration, and childhood hunger. 

The application window to apply for her trustee position is open through December 16 at 5 p.m.  Qualified candidates will be interviewed at a special school board meeting open to the public on Thursday, January 5, 2023, and/or Thursday, January 12. To submit your application for the vacancy on the Board of Trustees, click here or go to

“Kate Ford and Laura Capps have been wonderful and inspiring members of our school board these past several years. They both spent countless hours serving the students, faculty, staff, and community during their time on the school board. We thank them for their hard work and wish them well in their next chapters,” Dr. Maldonado said.

Ford and Capps will be honored before Monday’s school board meeting on Monday, December 12 at 3:30 p.m.