Local leaders recognized for dedication

This editorial by SBCAN Associate Director Jeanne Sparks ran in the Santa Maria Times on May 14, 2017:


Terri Zuniga has been working to make Santa Maria a better and safer place for more than three decades. She has been active on many boards and community organizations, including serving on the City Council for four years.

She works full-time as supervisor of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Program. Before that, she worked for 20 years as director of programs for Domestic Violence Solutions.

Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN) will present Zuniga with the Looking Forward Award during the North County Looking Forward Awards Dinner on Sunday, June 11, at 5 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel, 3455 Skyway Dr., Santa Maria.

SBCAN is honoring six individuals to thank them for their hard work, and to encourage others to be involved in the community. We think it’s important to recognize people who every day exemplify the kind of work we advocate and educate about, including protecting the environment and supporting social and economic justice.

Rona Barrett will receive the Giving Back to the Community Award. Known nationally for her celebrity interviews from the 1950s to 1970s, Barrett decided to move to the Santa Ynez Valley. She established the Rona Barrett Foundation, which has successfully provided affordable housing and support services for seniors in need with the development of the Golden Inn & Village (GIV) in Santa Ynez.

At GIV, seniors are able to access a variety of care that meets their needs. It also includes affordable staff housing, a community center and gardens and will eventually include assisted living, memory care, adult day care and hospice care so residents can age in place.

Vibiana Saavedra will receive the Social Justice Award. Saavedra has served on the boards of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and SBCAN, and is a member of HealthCare for All and North County Coalition. She is a member of the NAACP Santa Maria-Lompoc Executive Committee and of United Domestic Workers where she serves as UDW Region 5 secretary. She also served six years as president of the Democratic Club of the Santa Maria Valley, and 11 years as the club’s representative to the Central Committee of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party.

Alma Hernandez will receive the Environmental Protection & Sustainability Award. She has over 20 years experience working in rural, largely immigrant, communities developing leadership through cooperative efforts and placing community members at the forefront of decision making processes. Her focus has included the promotion of open, communal, multicultural, and artistic spaces. Successful collaborative efforts include Ciclovia in Guadalupe and Dual Immersion in Santa Maria. She has served as chair of the Dune's Center Internal Affairs Committee and board, as vice president on the CAUSE Board of Directors and as a Fund for Santa Barbara board member.

Ann and Rob Glasgow will receive the Working Families Award. Rob is active in the Vandenberg Village Lions Club, helps at Cabrillo High School track meets, and is working on the creation of a children's park in Vandenberg Village. Ann serves on the county Historical Landmarks Commission and on the Lompoc Empty Bowls FoodBank committee.

They are both involved at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, the Lompoc Valley Democratic Club and as docents at La Purisima Mission State Historic Park. They have worked with the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara to interview senior high students applying for financial aid, and they do monthly roadside trash pickup with a couple of organizations.

We hope you will join us to recognize these leaders. Visit www.sbcan.org for more information.

Jeanne Sparks is associate director for Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN). She can be reached at [email protected]. Looking Forward provides a progressive viewpoint on local issues.