February 7, 2023
You are here:  Home  >  Banking & Finance  >  Current Article

Funari leaves Business First for Bank of Santa Barbara


Joanne Funari

Joanne Funari

Longtime Santa Barbara banker Joanne Funari has stepped down from Business First Bank to join the Bank of Santa Barbara as chief operating officer.

Funari previously served as regional director and president of Business First, a division of Heritage Oaks Bancorp based in downtown Santa Barbara.

On Nov. 1, she started her new role with the Bank of Santa Barbara. The small business lender, headquartered downtown, has experienced a turnaround since a team of prominent business leaders including Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea and philanthropist Tom Parker purchased it from a Michigan firm in 2009.

“Joanne’s appointment offers the deep satisfaction of getting a great team back together,” Bank of Santa Barbara CEO Eloy Ortega said in a news release. Ortega previously worked with Funari to open Business First National Bank in 2001. “In working with Joanne, I know she is tremendously committed to serving the Santa Barbara community. She is intrinsically motivated by the success of local businesses and the satisfaction of local customers. The bank, being locally owned, is a perfect spot for her.”

Funari also served on the executive management team of Paso Robles-based Heritage Oaks, currently tied with Montecito Bank & Trust as the largest bank based in the Tri-Counties with $1.1 billion in assets. After San Francisco-based Union Bank purchased longtime regional giant Santa Barbara Bank & Trust last year for $1.5 billion, Heritage has launched an expansion spree in to Ventura County and is acquiring San Luis Obispo-based Mission Community Bank for $56.4 million.

The Bank of Santa Barbara said that in her new role, Funari will be responsible for focusing on the Bank of Santa Barbara’s expansion.

Funari is a well-known figure in the South Coast community. She is the incoming chairperson of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce and was recently La Presidenta of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. Funari was appointed by First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal to serve on the Santa Barbara County Finance Corporation and she has also been involved with the South Coast Business and Technology Awards and the UC Santa Barbara Economic Forecast Project, among other group involvements.

“I am thrilled to be rejoining Eloy and The Bank to build upon an amazing Santa Barbara success story,” she said in a statement.