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Your work resonates throughout our community – tell us about it.

Leading From Within creates an environment for social sector leaders to learn, share, and grow together.  As we collect stories from program participants, our alumni community, and network of peers – we grow in connecting leaders and their work with the community at large.

By sharing your story, you contribute to leveraging the impact of our social sector in Santa Barbara County and beyond.

Stories From Our Network

View our third edition of featured stories from our participants and alumni, as we highlight the inspiring tales from Karin, Frank, Wendy, and Christopher about the power of voice.

Learn more about Our Network.

My Story

Begin sharing your story here.
  • Describe your work in the social sector (above).
  • Share a photo of you, and/or image that represents your work in the community.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Karin Powers

Karin Powers graduated from Cal Poly at the age of 40. If she had not been motivated by her back injury, she may have not attended college. She serves as the Finance and Human Resource Director for the North County…

Frank Rodriguez

Frank Rodriguez is the person you want advocating for you. The son of immigrants from Jalisco, Mexico, and a first-generation UCLA grad with a master’s Degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin, Frank has both…

Wendy Sims-Moten

Wendy Sims-Moten has served as Executive Director of First 5 Santa Barbara County for the past two years. However, she was passed up for the position when she first applied five years ago. At that time, Wendy had been with…

Christopher Tucker

Garden Court independent living community in downtown Santa Barbara is transforming low-income senior housing on a national level and significantly improving the lives of its residents. The pioneering power of Garden Court is due to the innovative talent of its…


Alejandra Gutierrez

Alejandra is a Santa Barbara local, having grown up intertwined in two different cultures. Her Mexican roots and American attitude have supported her to interweave the different niches that exist in our town, grow as a professional, and expose first-generation…

Ben Romo

Ben Romo draws inspiration from his personal experience as he helps lead in disaster relief for our community. “I had friends plucked from their roofs, others who lost their homes, and a good friend who saved his parents’ lives. I’ve…

Eder Gaona-Macedo

As a Latino youth, Eder Gaona-Macedo felt his voice didn’t matter. He grew up as an undocumented immigrant in a single family household, yet held strong to his American upbringing and go-getter attitude. His perspective and view of his future…

Michael Heck

For someone who spent 10 years in prison, Michael Heck’s path to leadership was anything but ordinary.  And yet, his uncharacteristic background led to his present success and strong desire to help other ex-offenders change the course of their lives.…

Elisa Pardo

Elisa Pardo learned how a social services organization can change a life when she became a teenage parent. The Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County (CACSB) helped her in a time of need. Now, 15 years later, she’s still…

Chuck Flacks

Chuck is a beam of light when you see him – always with a smile and sense of honest compassion. However, he proves that anyone can get stuck in the dark. Chuck did everything you’re supposed to do when sinking…

Samuel Duarte

The Little House by the Park is anything but little. The friendly faces and numerous activities that fill the center are driving big changes in the city of Guadalupe, thanks to the care and guidance of Samuel Duarte and his…

Niki Sandoval

Dr. Nicolasa “Niki” Sandoval, the first member of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to earn a doctorate in education, never even considered going to college. She didn’t think it was possible. The Native American population shares many of…

Leading From Within collects stories from program participants, the alumni community and network of peers to connect its leaders with the community at large. If you prefer to reach out to our team directly, you may contact Sarah Harris at or (805) 770-3232.

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