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After 12 years of Leadership, Santa Barbara Education’s Executive Director will Step Aside

After stewarding the Santa Barbara Education Foundation’s steady growth for more than a decade, Executive Director Margie Yahyavi plans to step down to spend more time with family and explore new endeavors.

“I’ve loved every minute of working with this organization, the program directors, the donors, the community, all of it,” said Yahyavi.

Yahyavi joined the Foundation in 2010 as its only part-time employee with annual revenues of $300,000. During her tenure, SBEF’s staff grew to five positions and an annual budget of $2.5 million, supporting 10 SBEF programs and serving as a fiscal sponsor for 14 other education programs. SBEF hosts long-running summer music programs for local students, including the much-loved Nick Rail Summer Band Camp. Yahyavi created the Get Ahead Program, a passion project that enabled high school students to earn academic credits during the summer.

While SBEF operates independently of Santa Barbara Unified, it often supports District initiatives and works closely with its leadership. During Yahyavi’s tenure, she secured funding to pilot and launch Santa Barbara Unified’s literacy intervention program for struggling readers, a grant program for teachers awarding more than $100,000 annually, and an emergency fund that provided wi-fi access for students and their families during the pandemic.

In addition to growing SBEF’s funding and programs, Yahyavi led advocacy for three bond and parcel tax measures resulting in $193 million in support of improved student learning and infrastructure investment for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

“I have appreciated working with so many wonderful people in our community,” said Yahyavi, “and I value the relationships I’ve been privileged to develop with our many donors who understand the value of investing in education.”

Yahyavi leaves the Foundation in an improved financial position, with a recent $4 million bequest that will provide long-term sustainability and support. She will remain with the organization during its search for a new executive director and facilitate the transition to new leadership.

“We are immensely grateful,” said SBEF Board Chair Mat Gradias, “for Margie’s steady leadership of this organization and her contributions to the Santa Barbara education community.”

Parents and educators founded the Santa Barbara Education Foundation in 1985. Its mission is to provide and support programs that enrich the academic, artistic, and personal development of all students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. For more information, visit www.santabarbaraeducation.org.

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