Thursday, October 11, 2012
By William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher
Civic leaders Ken Saxon and Patricia MacFarlane were honored as Santa Barbara’s Man & Woman of the Year on Thursday night, in recognition of the pair’s long-standing commitment to community service and voluntary leadership.
A closely guarded secret, the Santa Barbara Foundation announced the 2012 honorees at the 70th annual awards ceremony, which was sponsored by the foundation, Noozhawk, KEYT and KDB 93.7 classic radio.
Saxon and his wife, Jo, and their twins, Griffin and Hope, moved to Santa Barbara from the Bay Area in 1996 after he sold his startup company, First American Records Management. In his new community, he immediately put his entrepreneurial skills to work on behalf of the nonprofit sector. He, too, is a past board president of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara and he has served on the boards of the Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Middle School and The Eleos Foundation.
With Craig Zimmerman, president of The Towbes Group, Saxon co-founded FUND(Families Uniting to Nurture Dreams), a group of 20 families who include their children in a giving circle to raise money for needy students and teach their children about philanthropy. He also developed the now 4-year-old Courage to Lead, a year-long leadership and renewal program designed to support nonprofit executive leaders with strategic planning, coaching and self-development.
In a 2008 interview with Noozhawk, Saxon explained the simple philosophy behind his community service. “Some people move here and want to engage, and other people … want to hide out, and that’s fine,” he said. “But it’s awfully fun to engage.”
He returned to that upbeat theme Thursday night.
“In a way this honor is unnecessary for me,” said Saxon, referring to his nonprofit work. “It’s just not hard duty.”