The Santa Barbara Foundation on Sept. 2 wrapped up its 77th awards program, which was celebrated virtually for the first time in its 92-year history.
The foundation is the largest community foundation in the region and a resource for investment and capacity-building. It works to improve areas that affect quality of life in Santa Barbara County, including child care, workforce development and workforce housing through connecting those who give with those in need.
The virtual program opened with remarks from board chair Pamela Gann, who recognized first Man of the Year Harold Chase, in 1942. His sister, Pearl Chase, was tapped as Woman of the Year 14 years later. Past recipients of the award, such as 2019 honorees David Boyd and Jelinda DeVorzon, have all served Santa Barbara and strengthened the community through their leadership, generosity and volunteer work in support of people in need.
Santa Barbara Foundation President/CEO Jackie Carrera acknowledged the event’s Legacy Sponsors, including the Santa Barbara Foundation and Montecito Bank & Trust, Silver Sponsor Noozhawk and Bronze Sponsor Bryant & Sons Jewelers.
In a new twist, the Awards Committee added an award category — the Outstanding Couple in Service Award — which was presented to Michael and Marni Cooney in recognition of their combined philanthropic impact in greater Santa Barbara.
“Our relationship is based on teamwork,” he said.
Marni Cooney has served as a Family Service Agency board member since 2002, and was president of the board from 2007 to 2010 and co-president from 2011 to 2013. A longtime educator for the Santa Barbara Unified School District, she is passionate about education and has been a volunteer at Canalino and Alisos elementary schools for 17 years, providing literacy support for students in need of additional help.
Additionally, she served as the co-chair of the Major Gifts Committee for the Peabody Stadium renovation at Santa Barbara High School, helping raise $5 million for the campaign to renovate the 100-year-old track-and field-facility.
The Cooneys have supported the Carpinteria Children’s Project for the past 10 years and were instrumental in establishing it as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
“The South Coast is so beautiful,” Marni Cooney said, “but I have learned that there is a dark side for those who struggle with food, health and housing insecurities.”
Michael Cooney sits on the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission and is a longtime board member for the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara, where he served as board chair, and the June G. Outhwaite Charitable Trust. He also volunteers as the grants director for La Centra Sumerlin.
The Cooneys also both serve on the Advisory Board of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.
The Man of the Year Award was presented to businessman and philanthropist Tom Parker by former Santa Barbara Foundation President/CEO Chuck Schlosser.
“Tom is the guy that plays it forward,” Schlosser said.
Parker is a third-generation Santa Barbara native. He received his undergraduate education and MBA at California Lutheran University. He is board chairman of Hutton Companies and president of the Hutton Parker Foundation.
The foundation owns and manages more than 250,000 square feet of office space in 17 buildings serving more than 90 local nonprofit organizations. In addition, since 1999, the foundation has awarded and managed more than 25 Program Related Investments (PRIs) or loans totaling $7.3 million to area nonprofit organizations, allowing them to purchase property for their use, make capital improvements or refinance an existing mortgage.
The foundation’s primary areas of interest include education, health and human services, civic and community development, youth and family services, and arts and culture. Total distributions have ranged from $2.6 million to $3.2 million annually.
“I grew up in Santa Barbara,” Parker said. “My father had a butcher shop on Haley Street. In those days, community service groups like the Kiwanis were very popular, and I remember accompanying my father to events and service projects.
“I thought I had retired, but I got involved in the nonprofits and my retirement stopped! My goal is to help nonprofits have a home, i.e. a place to operate and to be sustainable. The amount of energy you put into this work — you get infinitely more back.”
More recently, in response to COVID-19, Parker formed a coalition of 30 funders to provide more than $10 million for Santa Barbara County’s community needs.
Catherine Remak was tapped as the 77th Woman of the Year.
She has been the co-host of the long-running “Gary & Catherine” morning show on K-LITE radio for the past 28 years.
“I grew up in Montecito,” Remak said, “and my first memory of volunteering is as a boys baseball coach when I was 14, and I have been doing it ever since. I love fundraising and storytelling. I am all fired up for the little guy.”
She shares her enthusiasm as a frequent emcee, host and auctioneer at special events, helping bring significant exposure and millions of dollars to local nonprofit organizations. She has volunteered with Hospice of Santa Barbara, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, CALM, Jodi House, Girls Inc., the Mental Wellness Center, ShelterBox and many more.
In 2004, Remak founded and served as a volunteer leader for Kids in Community Service, a program that taught children at Hope Elementary School the value of community service work.
Remak is a longtime member of Rotary International. She served as president of the Goleta club from 2017-18. In 2015, she was part of a volunteer team of Rotarians who traveled to Morellia, Mexico, for a joint project with SEE International to assist with cataract surgeries. She also has raised funds by participating in the Summit for Danny expeditions for the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Foundation. For more information about the awards, contact Jordan Killebrew, director of communications, at 805.963.1873 or email@example.com.
— Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.