The Santa Barbara Foundation, legacy sponsor Montecito Bank & Trust, and sponsoring partners Noozhawk and Bryant & Sons, Ltd. announced Friday that the 77th Man & Woman of the Year honorees are Tom Parker and Catherine Remak.
The two will be honored, along with Outstanding Couple in Service Michael & Marni Cooney, for their contributions and service to the community at a virtual reception on Sept. 2.
“We are thrilled to announce that Tom Parker and Catherine Remak are our 77th Man & Woman of the Year! In addition, we are excited to recognize Michael & Marni Cooney as our Outstanding Couple in Service,” said Jackie Carrera, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation.
“In these challenging times, we look forward to celebrating the hope, optimism and spirit of volunteerism that these community members represent at our first-ever virtual awards ceremony.”
The first Man & Woman of the Year were Harold Chase in 1942 and Pearl Chase in 1956. Recent recipients include David Boyd and Jelinda DeVorzon, Ernesto Paredes and Joni Meisel, Steve Lyons and Carol Palladini, Bill Cirone and Anne Smith Towbes, Ken Saxon and Patricia MacFarlane, Clifford W. Sponsel and Gerd Jordano, as well as Ed Birch and Vicki Hazard.
This year, the selection committee understands the impact, seen and unforeseen, of COVID-19, and has decided to create an additional award.
The Santa Barbara Foundation will also present Michael and Marni Cooney with the Outstanding Couple in Service Award in recognition of their combined philanthropic impact in the Santa Barbara community.
Tom Parker — 77th Man of the Year
Tom Parker is a third-generation Santa Barbara local. His vision, philanthropy and collaborative spirit are well known throughout Santa Barbara County.
Parker is the president of the Hutton Parker Foundation, and has served on boards and advisory committees for many organizations, including the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Foundation Roundtable, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, La Casa de La Raza, and the UCSB Economic Forecast Project.
“What is known of Tom’s activities is his philanthropic support. That’s the surface. Underneath is his passion to serve this community – ‘his community,’” shared Santa Barbara philanthropist Joni Meisel. “In doing so, we have seen a long history of volunteerism through his organizing efforts that bring desired and needed changes in our countywide community.”
One notable way Parker has supported the nonprofit community is by offering newly renovated office building units to 54 organizations (most of which are located in Santa Barbara) at below-market rental rates. In the aggregate, this saves $2 million per year for the nonprofit organizations involved.
Parker has volunteered his time and expertise to help many local nonprofit organizations. Parker played a cornerstone role in the founding of Carpinteria Children’s Project, a public-private collaborative that focuses funding, knowledge and attention on preparing the next generation of Santa Barbara County residents for productive lives.
In 2019, Parker provided guidance to Domestic Violence Solutions, resulting in the conversion of its apartments into Permanent Project Based Section 8 housing for domestic-violence survivors. This facility now houses 15 families, improving the cash flow and future sustainability of the organization.
More recently, in response to COVID-19, Parker formed a coalition of 30 funders to provide over $10 million for Santa Barbara County’s community needs.
“Tom is one of the most collaborative, forward-thinking, positive people I have ever known,” said Anne Towbes. “He is a mentor to many, and his can-do attitude is infectious. He easily engages the help of others and makes them feel like true partners.”
Catherine Remak – 77th Woman of the Year
With over three decades of experience in radio broadcast, Catherine Remak has one of the most recognizable voices in the Santa Barbara community. Remak has been the co-host of the long-running “Gary and Catherine in the Morning” show on KLITE for the last 28 years.
Remak is known as a “champion for nonprofits,” collectively volunteering thousands of hours as an emcee, host and auctioneer at countless events and helping to bring significant exposure and millions of dollars to local agencies.
In this capacity, she has volunteered with Hospice of Santa Barbara, Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, CALM, Jody House, Girls Inc., Mental Wellness Center, Shelter Box and many more.
“From her 101.7 KLITE Show ‘Gary and Catherine in the Morning,’ she has invited countless nonprofit organizations big and small, rich and poor, into her studio to highlight and share the work of these charities and vital causes,” said David Selberg, CEO of Hospice of Santa Barbara.
“Catherine would always step up and highlight important causes on her radio show or at the event stage — AIDS Walks, Pride Festivals, etc. — good work being done for communities struggling with marginalization and discrimination, even when it was not popular to do so!”
In 2004, Remak founded and served as a volunteer leader for “Kids in Community Service,” a program at Hope Elementary School that taught grade school children the value of community service work.
Remak has been a longtime member of Rotary International, Goleta Club, where she served as president from 2017 to 2018. In 2015, she was part of a volunteer team of Rotarians who travelled to Morellia, Mexico, for a joint project with SEE International to assist with cataract surgeries.
“Catherine’s grace, style, warmth, humility and genuine concern for the welfare of others are ever-present. Simply put, she cares about people, and she does something about it. She makes a difference on a regular basis and she lifts others up as she does,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown.
Remak is a board member for the Santa Barbara Symphony, and has served on a number of other nonprofits boards, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Friendship Center Adult Day Services, and the Trust for Historic Preservation.
She is also the Development Director for the Council for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
Michael and Marni Cooney – Outstanding Couple In Service Awardees
This year, the Santa Barbara Foundation will also present Michael and Marni Cooney with a new award — the Outstanding Couple In Service Award — in recognition of their combined philanthropic impact in the Santa Barbara.
“The Cooneys are a unique pair, who individually demonstrate their compassion for serving and improving our community,” said Lisa Brabo, executive director of the Family Service Agency.
Mr. Cooney’s cares deeply for our community, as evidenced by the thoughtful way in which he contributed to the projects that have transpired during his tenure on the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission — projects as diverse as affordable housing, improvements to Highway 101, and cannabis cultivation.
He was also an instrumental decision maker for the Goleta and Santa Ynez Valley community plans.
Mr. Cooney is a long-serving board member for the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara, where he previously served as board chair, and the June G. Outhwaite Charitable Trust. He also serves as grants director for La Centra Sumerlin.
In addition, Mr. Cooney has offered his advice and expertise to other nonprofit boards, including the Family Service Agency, Carpinteria Children’s Project, and the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.
Mr. Cooney has supported the Carpinteria Children’s Project (CCP) for the past 10 years, and was instrumental in establishing the CCP as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
He also served on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing since 2011. He has been a volunteer assistant baseball coach at Santa Barbara High School (33 years), and currently assists his son, Pat, at Carpinteria High.
Mrs. Cooney has served as a Family Service Agency (FSA) board member since 2002, and was president of the board from 2007 to 2010, and co-president from 2011 to 2013.
She has also served on FSA’s Governance, Development and Marketing, Finance, Programs, and Senior Programs Advisory Councils.
Currently, both Mrs. and Mr. Cooney serve on the Advisory Board of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.
Mrs. Cooney is passionate about education. She has been a consistent and dedicated volunteer at Canalino and Alisos Elementary School 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, ultimately helping raise $5 million for the campaign to renovate the 100-year-old track and field facility on the campus.
“Both Michael and his wife, Marni, have demonstrated a commitment to the betterment of our community,” said Laura Bridley, Chairperson of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission. “Of all the times to honor two individuals like the Cooneys, this is the year to honor such heroes for the selfless work they do year in and year out.”
Details on the Awards Ceremony
To join in the virtual celebration and purchase tickets for the 77th Man & Woman of the Year Awards, please visit http://bit.ly/77MWAwards.
For more information about the awards, contact Jordan Killebrew, the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Director of Communications, at 805.963.1873 or JKillebrew@SBFoundation.org.
About Santa Barbara Foundation:
The Santa Barbara Foundation, the largest community foundation in the region and the county’s go-to resource for investment and capacity-building, strives to mobilize and elevate residents of all ages, races, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds to thrive.
Nearly every Santa Barbara County nonprofit organization and essential community project has been supported by the Foundation during its 92-year history.
The foundation is working to improve areas that affect quality of life in Santa Barbara County including childcare, workforce development, and workforce housing through connecting those who give with those in need — and all who dream of stronger communities.
To learn more, please visit SBFoundation.org.
Jordan Killebrew is director of communications for the Santa Barbara Foundation.