Goleta’s Finest 2023 Award Recipients Announced

GF Newsletter

The Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, from Goleta to Carpinteria, is excited to announce the 2023 Goleta’s Finest Award Winners. Goleta’s Finest is a 73-year-old tradition honoring remarkable individuals whose contributions have enhanced the Goleta community.

The 2023 award recipients were honored at a formal celebration on December 1, 5:30-9:00 PM, at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Bacara. To view photos from the gala, visit the gallery here.

The 2023 Goleta’s Finest Award Recipients are:

Woman of the Year – Jackie Parker
Presented by American Riviera Bank

Jackie Parker is a beacon of dedication to community and family values. Jackie and her family have been pillars of Goleta for generations. Jackie’s late husband, Robert Parker, pioneered medical care as the first surgeon at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital. Their legacy continued as three of their five daughters pursued careers as physicians and nurses, further cementing the Parker family’s integral role in the hospital’s success. Beyond healthcare, the Parkers have been instrumental in nurturing Old Town Goleta’s business landscape. As property owners, their buildings have housed cherished family-run establishments. The current block they still own supports Goleta Bakery, Domingo’s and La Chapala, ensuring the historic nature of the area is preserved.  Jackie served on the Chamber’s Old Town committee and has worked with City Government to champion her business’s needs.  Her dedication has ensured these businesses thrive and serve the community. Jackie’s unwavering commitment to family and community left an indelible mark on Goleta in health care and in Old Town. Her contributions, combined with those of her family, have shaped Goleta into the vibrant community it is today, and her commitment ensures that respect for our history.

Man of the Year – Marty Plourd
Presented by Fauver, Large, Archbald & Spray
Marty’s heart is in Goleta. Since moving here to become President of Community West Bank in 2011, Marty’s impact has been profound. His commitment to cherish and grow Goleta’s original business bank made an impact on the banking sector, the business community and in the broader community. Plourd also servs as Vice President of Community West Bancshares and shares over 30 years of banking experience in commercial and retail banking, operations and lending. Beyond his professional accolades, Plourd’s dedication to the community is unparalleled. He has been a champion for Old Town, for growing businesses in Goleta, for supporting our local non-profits, and for shining a light on Goleta the Goodland. He serves as a trustee for the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation, is an active member of the Rotary Club of Goleta and contributes his expertise as an advisory board member for the College of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona. He has connected education to local business through the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. He served on the Goleta Chamber of Commerce board and used that position to elevate our community events at the Lemon Festival and Goleta’s Finest. Martin Plourd’s longstanding achievements have not only elevated Community West Bank but have also enriched our community. His leadership, knowledge, and unwavering dedication make him a deserving recipient of this honor. We look forward to witnessing his continued contributions in the years to come.

Educator of the Year – Scott Guttentag
Presented by The Ritz-Carlton Bacara
Affectionately known “Scotty G” or “Mr. DP,” Scott Guttentag has been serving Dos Pueblos High School since the early 1990s. His dedication to the school and its students is beyond compare. His passion for assisting students facing academic challenges and personal adversities has been a symbol of hope for many, guiding them towards graduation and a brighter future. Beyond his role as the activities director and counselor, Scott’s vibrant energy is evident in every corner of the school. From leading cheers at football games to driving the iconic Amy Car in parades, to mentoring student leaders, Scott has truly been the heart and soul of the DP culture. Generations of families in Goleta have been touched by his caring commitment, and many have their own cherished stories of Scotty G’s many achievements and are grateful for his continued dedication to the community.

Student of the Year – Valeria Tiburcio Romo
Presented by UCLA Health
Valeria is an amazing and resilient leader at Dos Pueblos High School and has consistently demonstrated commitment to her peers and the community. Serving as both Sophomore and Junior Class President, and now as the ASB President for the 2023/24 school year, her dedication is unparalleled. A staunch advocate for the LatinX community, Valeria’s voice resonates with clarity and purpose. Her collaborative efforts with the Bi-Lingual Family Liaison and the ELAC Committee underscore her commitment to inclusivity and equity. Beyond titles, Valeria’s genuine desire is to ensure every voice is heard, making her a true embodiment of DP’s values. Her peers’ recent selection of her as a representative on the homecoming court is a testament to her popularity and the profound impact she has made. Valeria Tiburcio Romo is not just a leader; she is an inspiration, epitomizing the essence of Goleta’s finest.

Volunteer of the Year – Fritz Olenberger
Presented by Community West Bank
Following his retirement from Raytheon, Fritz has been an invaluable asset to the Goleta community, by supporting numerous nonprofits, performing arts organizations, and museums with his exceptional volunteer photography. Throughout the years, Fritz has been a constant presence at local parades, festivals, and countless events, capturing moments that tell the story of our Goleta and Santa Barbara community. His commitment shone brightly during the pandemic when organizations heavily relied on his images for fundraising, website development, and promotional activities. Passionate about Old Spanish Days traditions, he was involved in many Fiesta Rancheras at the Stow House, and during the pandemic – when the event was on hiatus – he was there to photograph dancers as they took Fiesta cheer to the Camino Real Marketplace and Calle Real Center and even documented the Flower Girls waving outside the windows of retirement homes. Beyond his lens, Fritz’s passion for dance documentation has been a gift to groups spanning flamenco to ballet, capturing performances that dancers cherish. Fritz Olenberger’s tireless efforts and generosity have left an enduring mark on our community. He truly embodies the spirit of community service.

Innovator of the Year – Demis D. John, PhD
Presented by Pacific Premier Bank
Demis John is innovation in action. His role at the UCSB Nano-fab is creative and innovative, but it’s his gentle but enthusiastic work to improve the Goleta business climate for high tech and manufacturers that make him the Innovator of the Year. Demis spearheaded the Technology Roundtable, uniting local high-tech and manufacturing industry leaders to the Chamber of Commerce and the community. His positive and energetic perseverance is a model of volunteer work and his patient and persuasive leadership have been instrumental in the efforts to bring our community together for technology businesses and education. He worked tirelessly on the UCSB NSF-funded “Prime” program which aims to equip the 21st-century workforce with advanced skills, ensuring companies benefit from top-tier teams and offering the community a pathway to lucrative local employment. Demis’s commitment to workforce development and UCSB has birthed an innovative workforce pipeline program, training advanced manufacturing workers using UCSB’s state-of-the-art facilities. This initiative not only strengthens the community but also bridges education and employment, fostering regional prosperity. A testament to his visionary innovation, Demis has pioneered educational avenues for individuals to dive into the semiconductor and advanced manufacturing sectors. His vast network continues to create invaluable opportunities for students, fortifying our tech ecosystem’s future. Demis’s leadership and innovation sets a gold standard in our community. We celebrate his enduring impact and future influence in education and industry.

Public Servant of the Year – Allison Gray
Presented by ExxonMobil
With an extraordinary 37-year career in library services, Allison Gray has dedicated 15 remarkable years to the Goleta Valley Library, leaving an unforgettable mark with her retirement earlier this year. Throughout her tenure, Allison’s commitment was evident in her initiation of innovative programs for families and children. Her vast experience and persistent dedication were instrumental in guiding the Goleta Valley Library System through the challenging COVID-19 closures, ensuring that the community continued to have access to essential library services. In April of this year, the Goleta Valley Library celebrated 50 Years at Fairveiw. Amidst the festivities, Mayor Perotte and Neighborhood Services Director Jaime Valdez presented Allison with a City Tile. Many attendees donned the color gray as a tribute to her enduring legacy. Valdez praised Gray, stating, “Allison is a gem of a person. She’s ensuring we’re prepared for the next 50 years.” Reflecting on her time, Allison remarked, “What makes this library great are the staff, the invaluable volunteers, and our users. I’m proud of the customer service we’ve provided and look forward to joining as a patron soon.” The Goleta community extends its heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Gray for her years of selfless service.

President’s Award – Christine LeBon
Presented by Kristen Miller of the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce
Christine LeBon is certainly a pillar of this community! This special award, only given when an exemplary individual is identified, is celebrating Christines 28 years of dedicated service. Christine’s journey began when she was introduced to the Welcome Wagon by Ruth Johnson in 1995. Soon after, she swiftly embraced the role of an ambassador at the Chamber of Commerce, a decision that saw her serve the community in myriad capacities. From her tenure in Old Town Goleta with the Goleta Chamber of Commerce where she was recognized as Volunteer of the Year in 2008 to her ambassadorship for adult education, Christine’s devotion has been unparalleled. Her proactive approach was evident when she pitched herself to the Santa Barbara Airbus, leading to a remarkable 15-year association as a touring ambassador. Beyond these roles, Christine’s presence is felt across the community: volunteering at the Rotary Club of Goleta Noontime, the Unity Shoppe, the Lobero Theatre, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and as a warmly welcoming Ambassador at the South Coast Chamber of Commerce events. This award stands as a testament to her enduring commitment and the deep-seated roots she has in the Goleta community.

The 2023 Goleta’s Finest Community Awards Gala is presented by the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce.