Santa Barbara Foundation Announces 73rd Man & Woman of the Year Award Recipients: Ed Birch & Vicki Hazard

The Santa Barbara Foundation and sponsoring partners Noozhawk and Montecito Bank & Trust announced that the 73rd Man and Woman of the Year Award recipients will be Ed Birch and Vicki Hazard. The two will be honored for their extraordinary service and volunteerism to the Santa Barbara community at a reception at the Four Seasons Biltmore, Coral Casino, on March 9, 2016.

“We at the foundation see every day the unheralded, selfless efforts by volunteers to help people in Santa Barbara,” said Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “These awards celebrate all of the volunteer work that has helped shape and strengthen the community we revere. It’s a great honor to be able to recognize the unprecedented public service of Ed Birch and Vicki Hazard in particular. Their inspiring compassion and commitment lift the lives of people in Santa Barbara and provide ample reason for optimism for the future of our community.”

The first Man and Woman of the Year were Harold Chase in 1942 and Pearl Chase in 1956. Recent past recipients include Steve Lyons and Carol Palladini, Bill Cirone and Anne Smith Towbes, Ken Saxon and Patricia MacFarlane, and Clifford W. Sponsel and Gerd Jordano.

Ed Birch—73rd Man of the Year
Dr. Birch provided an extraordinary breadth and depth of volunteer service to nonprofit organizations in 2015, including the UC Santa Barbara Foundation, Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (DPEA), Community Arts Music Association (CAMA), Westmont University, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC), Music Academy of the West, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and Child Abuse Listening & Mediation (CALM). This work adds to his long history of public service and is in addition to his role as president and CEO of the Samuel B. and Margaret C. Mosher Foundation.

“What makes Ed so special is that he is an advocate for leadership,” said Scott Reed, president of Music Academy of the West. “He knows that a smart and engaged leadership is the most important ingredient in programs that make for a vibrant organization and community.”

Dr. Birch led a broad number of projects with groups addressing diverse missions in education, culture, health and services to people in need.  He helped lead SBNC through a financial crisis that threatened closing the clinic’s doors by mobilizing support from local foundations to bridge fund the group. He was instrumental in establishing the Youth Audience Program at CAMA and led the re-visioning of its mission to include music education and outreach programs for children and adults. And he helped shape and deliver the Mosher Guest Artist Program at the Music Academy of the West. 

Yet friends and colleagues point to Dr. Birch’s humility despite the success of the missions and programs he has had an important role in fostering.

“Always modest, Ed would probably not claim any credit for our progress,” said Charles Fenzi, CEO and CMO of SBNC. “But he has been a true friend who has made enormous contributions.”

Vicki Hazard—73rd Woman of the Year
Ms. Hazard has dedicated more than three decades to leadership roles in volunteerism and public service, with the past 15 years devoted almost exclusively to nonprofit agencies in Santa Barbara. In 2015, she generously gave her time and expertise to numerous local organizations, including Sansum Clinic, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara with Sansum Clinic, the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara, and the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

Nonprofit professionals and volunteer colleagues alike speak to her exceptional dedication to civic responsibility and her focused leadership in shaping critical partnerships and projects within Santa Barbara’s social sector.

“Vicki’s work as chair of the board of trustees of Sansum Clinic and her service on the board of the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara are helping to ensure that our community’s patients have access to the highest quality healthcare services, cancer care and wellness support—regardless of their ability to pay,” said Kurt Ransohoff, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Sansum Clinic. “She is known for her giving heart and her tireless commitment to strengthening the organizations she serves.”

Dr. Ransohoff also points to her integral role in the possible merger between Sansum Clinic’s 23 ambulatory sites with Cottage’s three hospitals.  “The key benefit of this affiliation would be the creation of an integrated health delivery system for our patients and the community,” said Dr. Ransohoff. “Vicki believes if you want a better community, you have to get out there and make it happen.”

For more information about the 73rd Man and Woman of the Year Awards or reception, please contact the Santa Barbara Foundation at (805) 963-1873 or

The 73rd Man and Woman of the Year Awards are sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, Noozhawk, and Montecito Bank & Trust.

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