Board of Directors

Mat Gradias, President

Associate Architect, Kruger Bensen Ziemer Architects

Mat Gradias is an Associate Architect with Kruger Bensen Ziemer Architects with a focus on educational facilities. Gradias volunteers with the mentorship program for high school students interested in pursuing careers in architecture, construction and engineering. He is also on the advisory committee for Disability Services and Programs for Students department at Santa Barbara City College.

John Ogilvie, Vice President

Financial Consultant, Strategic Planning

After receiving his M.A. in International Economics and Finance from American University in 1968, John Ogilvie has enjoyed an illustrious career in strategic planning, finance, and management. He has assisted a variety of nonprofit organizations and public service projects, including a five-year term as President of Art Without Limits in Santa Barbara. He currently owns a small publishing and photography company, Dare Wright Media, LLC.

Eder Gaona-Macedo, Secretary

Community Advocate

Born in Guerrero, Mexico, Gaona-Macedo migrated to the United States at the age of four and settled in Santa Barbara. He went on to study at UCLA, where he studied Political Science and Chicano/a Studies and continued his studies at Columbia University, where he earned a Masters of Public Administration. In 2014, Gaona-Macedo stepped into the role of Executive Director of Future Leaders of America. He is also the co-founder of the 805UndocuFund, a project aimed at providing financial support to undocumented families due to natural disasters and pandemics.

Diana Ciontea, Treasurer

Director of Finance, ProductPlan

Diana Ciontea leads Financial Planning and Analysis at FastSpring, an eCommerce platform headquartered in downtown Santa Barbara. She has experience guiding financial and strategic efforts across a broad range of corporate environments, including Fortune 500 companies and high-tech startups. As a volunteer for Reading to Kids, Ciontea is dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading by partnering with schools and parents. Ciontea is a Santa Barbara native and a graduate of San Marcos High School. She holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Business from the University of Southern California.

Terri Allison, Immediate Past President

Early Childhood and Non-profit Consultant

Terri Allison founded Storyteller Children’s Center 27 years ago and became its executive director in 2005. Through her work, she acquired funding to support childcare services for homeless children while their parents looked for jobs. She received her teaching credentials from UCSB, and acquired a Post Graduate Certificate in Infant-Parent Mental Health from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Since retiring in 2015, Allison has been working as an early childhood education consultant.

Isis Castañeda

Project Coordinator, IV Coalition for Healthy Communities

Castañeda has worked with teens, young adults, and their families in the Santa Barbara area since 1997. A graduate of Santa Barbara High School, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies at Antioch University of Santa Barbara and is certified in Emotional Intelligence, Restorative Justice, Team Building Experiential Education, and as an Instructor for Youth Mental Health First Aid and teen Mental Health First Aid. In 2018, she established her business, Creating Connections, which facilitates teen and parent groups, community outreach, training, public speaking, and organizing events. Castañeda is currently the staff advisor for the Santa Barbara Youth Council and the project coordinator for the Isla Vista Coalition for Healthy Communities.

Tisha Weber Ford

CEO, Weber Logistics

After living in Santa Barbara for over 30 years, Ford is an active member of the community and has had the opportunity to serve many nonprofits as a volunteer, board member, and donor. As a board member, she has experience in development, finance, and governance from her tenure on the Board of Trustees at Marymount School of Santa Barbara. There she chaired the Development Committee, the Committee on Trustees, the Head Search Committee, and served as Board Chair. Ford currently serves as CEO at Weber Logistics.

Alan Griffin

Branch Manager, Raymond James

Raised in San Diego, Griffin has made Santa Barbara home for over 45 years. He is the branch manager for Raymond James' Santa Barbara location, where he works with individuals, families, business owners, and professionals with financial guidance. A long-time supporter of education in the local community, Griffin has been on the board at the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara for over 25 years and even served as Board President.

Larry Harter

President, Pueblo Radiology

Harter serves as President of Pueblo Radiology and California Managed Imaging. He also serves on the executive committee of the California Radiology Society and is a councilor of the American College of Radiology, and has been a radiologist in Santa Barbara for over 35 years. He served on the board of the Santa Barbara County Medical Society, and Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation for 12 years.

Bukola Ishola

Benefits Consultant, OneDigital Health

Bukola Ishola is also a long-time resident of Santa Barbara, as she remained in the area after receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Political Science and Black Studies from the UC Santa Barbara. Ishola is also a Benefits Consultant at OneDigital Health, where she educates her clients about nuances in the health insurance industry to further encourage knowledgeable forms of consumerism for her patrons. Apart from Ishola’s busy work schedule, you may find her spending her free time with friends or at a local farmers’ market.

Elke Kane

Attorney, Trusted Legal, LLP

Kane is a business and employment attorney at the boutique legal services firm, Trusted Legal, LLP. As a child of Mexican immigrants and a student in the public school system, she became aware of the problems that plague public schools and developed an interest in education policy and funding. While completing a B.A. in Psychology at UCSB, she student-taught at Harding Elementary School. She subsequently earned her J.D. from Santa Barbara College of Law. Active in the community, Kane has served as an executive board member for the Cold Spring School Foundation for many years.

Daniel Meisel

Regional Director of ADL Santa Barbara/Tri Counties

Daniel Meisel is the founder of Kapok Pictures, a motion picture development and production company. Formerly an attorney with San Francisco’s Cooper, White, and Cooper, Meisel received a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law before relocating to Santa Barbara. Meisel has written, produced, or provided legal services for multiple award-winning short films with domestic and international festival screenings and airing on IFC and Showtime Networks.

Jeffrey Milem

Dean and Professor, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, UCSB

Milem is the Dean and a Professor at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara. Prior to this position, Milem was on the faculty of the University of Arizona, University of Michigan, University of Maryland and Vanderbilt University. Professor Milem’s research focuses on ways in which colleges and universities can be organized to enhance equity, access, and success for all students, the racial context within higher education, and the relationship between how colleges and universities organize themselves and student outcomes.

Britt Ortiz

Director, Early Academic Outreach Program, UCSB

Britt Ortiz is the Director of Early Academic Outreach Program in the Division of Student Affairs at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he graduated with degrees in Sociology and Psychology. Previously, he served as the Associate Director of Student Outreach and Recruitment Services at CSU Northridge, and prior to that, he was the Director of the First Generation Student Success Program at the University of La Verne. Ortiz spends his free time traveling, gardening, and swimming.

Warren B. Ritter II

Financial Advisor, Wealth Management Strategies

Originally from South Carolina, Warren B. Ritter II graduated from Wofford College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. In 2018, Ritter shifted from corporate banking to Wealth Management Strategies Insurance and Financial Solutions, where he continues to produce solutions that assist individuals with comprehensive problem solving, estate planning, and financial literacy. In his free time, Ritter is an avid reader and enjoys both playing basketball and practicing the piano.

Felicita Torres

Attorney, Griffith & Thornburgh

Felicita Torres, an attorney at Griffith and Thornburgh, practices primarily in the areas of bankruptcy and education law. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Torres practiced in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office after receiving her degrees from Stanford University and Harvard School of Law. She moved to Santa Barbara in 2002, where she focused on child abuse and dependency issues. She enjoys spending time with her three children, and can often be found at the soccer fields and at the library.

District Representatives

Hilda Maldonado, District Representative

Superintendent, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Maldonado began her career 32 years ago in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) as a bilingual teacher and rose to the role of Associate Superintendent. Under her leadership, LAUSD expanded dual-language programs, increased Seal of Biliteracy student awards, and improved results for English Learners. Maldonado earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s Degree from California State, Los Angeles. A lifelong learner, Maldonado has been awarded the Stanton Fellowship Award by the Durfee Foundation. She is currently completing her doctorate at Loyola Marymount University in Social Justice Leadership.

Kelly Fresch, District Representative

Principal, Adams Elementary School

Kelly Fresch stepped into the role of principal at Adams Elementary School in 2017. She has dedicated her 24-year career in education to the progress and well-being of her students. Prior to her recent position at Adams Elementary, Fresch was principal at Guin Foss and Benson elementary schools in the Tustin Unified School District. Fresch has also served as a Big Sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation for eight years, as well as a Board Member for the Tustin Public Schools Foundation. She holds a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administrative Services Credential from Azusa Pacific University. She received a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the California State University Fullerton and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from San Diego State University.

Carolyn Ross, District Representative

Teacher, Goleta Valley Junior High School

Ross is an alumnus of Stanford University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in both Music Composition and English. She continued her learning at UC Santa Barbara, where she received a Master’s in Education and a teaching credential. She was immediately hired by the Santa Barbara Unified School District in 2001 as a theatre arts and reading intervention teacher. Since 2008 she has taught theatre arts and honors English at Goleta Junior High School. In 2019, Ross was named Goleta’s Finest Educator of the Year. She also received Goleta Valley Junior High School’s Certificated Employee of the Year in 2016 and Goleta Valley PTA’s Honorary Service Award in 2008.

Wendy Sims-Moten, District Representative

Executive Director, First 5 Santa Barbara County

Wendy Sims-Moten is the current Executive Director of the First 5 Santa Barbara County and serves as the President, Board of Trustees for the Santa Barbara Unified School District. Sims-Moten has worked for the county since 1996 and has been dedicated to the progress, development, and well-being of the community ever since. She is also a Board Member of Gateway Education Services, Board Member of CAUSE Action Fund, Organizer and Chair of the African American Women of Santa Barbara County Luncheon and member of the Santa Barbara Women Political Committee.

SBEF Staff

Margie Yahyavi

Executive Director

Melissa Davenport

Development Officer

Eryn Shugart

Donor Advisement Officer

Katie Szopa

Programs Manager

Elle Chaves

Development Associate

Honorary Council

  • Ed & Sue Birch
  • Daniel & Mandy Hochman
  • Jim Kearns
  • Sara Miller McCune
  • Joni Meisel
  • Nick Rail
  • Maryan Schall

Ambassadors

  • Debbie Arnesen
  • Kathy Bette
  • Cornelia Davis
  • Christine Garvey
  • Marilyn Gilbert
  • Victoria Juarez
  • Rodda Leonardi
  • Jo Saxon
  • Sandy Schoolfield

Past Presidents

  • Terri Allison
  • Marty Blum
  • Phil Bugay
  • Ada Conner
  • Michael Cooney
  • Tony Fischer
  • Mary Gosselin
  • Shirley Ann Hurley
  • Mark Ingalls
  • Elinor Langer
  • Joni Meisel
  • Edwin Moore
  • Al Pizano
  • Craig Price
  • Rob Ramirez
  • Jaqueline Reid, Ph.D.
  • John Robinson
  • Lynn Rodriguez
  • Frank Stevens
  • Claire VanBlaricum
  • Lotte Weinstein

Legacy Society

Legacy Society members have either arranged to make a future gift to Santa Barbara Education Foundation in their estate plan, or have made a gift of $25,000+ to our board-designated Endowment Fund.
  • Shirley Ann Hurley
  • Sara Miller McCune
  • Tina Hansen McEnroe
  • April Thede
  • Margie Yahyavi