July 4, 2024
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Santa Barbara, Ventura County philanthropists honored


Several area businesses and individuals took home awards for their philanthropic contributions at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Santa Barbara and Ventura counties chapter 2014 National Philanthropy Day luncheon held Nov. 13 at the Ventura Beach Marriott.

Montectio Bank & Trust, one of the oldest and largest locally owned banks in the region, was named Philanthropist of The Year for Santa Barbara County for its financial outreach programs, nonprofit support and its anniversary grant and community dividends programs.

The Philanthropist of the Year award for Ventura County went to the Ventura County Community Foundation for its charitable support of other regional nonprofits through grants, scholarships and training at its Center for Nonprofit Leadership.

Additionally, VCCF was recognized for its work which provides below-market rent to fellow nonprofits and free meeting space for community groups. With assets of more than $140 million, VCCF has averaged an annual return in its portfolio of 8.5 percent for the last 20 years, according to the organization.

Janet Garufis, president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust since 2006, was named Santa Barbara County Volunteer of The Year. Garufis serves as a trustee and sits on the executive committees for Sansum Clinic, Fielding Graduate University and the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, where she currently serves as president. She also co-chairs the Santa Barbara Children’s Library campaign and is involved with the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s ongoing campaign. Additionally, Garufis is the director for the boards Santa Barbara Habitat for Humanity and the Santa Barbara Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Ventura County Volunteer of the Year went to Betsy Blanchard Chess, recently retired editor and publisher of the Ventura County Farm Bureau’s Broadcaster Magazine. Born and raised in Santa Paula, Chess has been a longtime community advocate for nonprofit music, arts and agricultural organizations in the county. She has chaired the Fine Arts Committee at the Museum of Ventura County and is the current president of the Ventura Music Festival. Chess also sits on the major gifts committee for the Ventura County Agricultural Museum and is also a member of the museum’s advisory board. She was named to the Cultural Affairs Commission of Ventura County in 2011 and in 2012 was named one five business trailblazers by Women’s Economic Ventures Ventura County chapter. Most recently she was named by the Ventura County Star to their Class of 25 over 50, which honors people who have contributed to the ongoing vitality of Ventura County.

UCSB First was awarded the Youth Philanthropists of The Year honor for Santa Barbara County for it work centered around the needs and issues of the campus community. The organization campaigns for multiple events and initiatives throughout the year, including the senior class gift.

The Youth Philanthropist of The Year award for Ventura County went to Ventura County High School senior Kylie Crane. After her uncle was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Crane volunteered with local chapter of the ALS Association and has since helped to recruit new student volunteers for the annual ALS Walk.

Lastly, Jim Dougherty, director of development for the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, was named Professional Fundraiser of the Year. Dougherty has been working in fund raising since 1977, starting at Brown University, where he headed up at $225 million capital campaign. In 1978, he was recruited by UCSB to oversee the restructuring of the university’s annual fund and three years later directed the capital campaign for a new wing at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Dougherty has served as the director of development for the Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera and in 2000 came into his current role with Lobero Theater.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Santa Barbara and Ventura counties chapters was founded in 1986 and has 120 members.