Board of Directors

Terri Allison, 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.

Daniel Meisel, Vice President

Owner, Kapok Pictures

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.

John Ogilvie, Secretary

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.

Diana Ciontea, Treasurer

Director of Finance & Analysis, FastSpring

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 who has recently relocated back to the community. She holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Business from the University of Southern California.

Debbie Arnesen

Retired Fund Development

Debbie Arnesen was a fund development professional for 30 years serving nonprofit organizations and institutions throughout the tri-counties. During that time, she developed and directed many successful annual giving, capital and special project campaigns for a variety of organizations, from educational institutions to social service agencies. Debbie graduated from UCSB with a master’s degree in education. Since retiring from fundraising in 2011, Debbie has been working with her husband in their landscape and contracting business.

Jon Clark

President, James S. Bower Foundation

Dedicated to supporting community organizations that promote educational, developmental and health processes, environmental conditions, and social awareness, Clark has lent his time and know-how to groups such as Cottage Health, Community Environmental Council, Storyteller Children’s Center, the Alliance for Living and Dying Well, Direct Relief, Carpinteria Children’s Project, and the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region. While on the Santa Barbara Foundation board, Clark promoted the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Program for Effective Access to College.

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.

Mat Gradias

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.

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.

Victoria Juarez

Executive Director, Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara

Victoria Juarez is the Executive Director of Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, a non-profit organization that inspires, encourages, and supports Santa Barbara County students to and through college, graduate, and vocational school by providing information, advising, and scholarships. She is the first in her family to attend and graduate from college, and previously served as Associate Director of Storyteller Children’s Center and Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. She received a B.A. in History from California State University- Long Beach and served in the U.S. Peace Corps for two years in Russia, where she decided to dedicate her career to nonprofit work.

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.

Stephanie Ramirez Zárate

Field Representative for Assemblymember Monique Limon

Stephanie Ramirez Zárate is a Field Representative for Assemblymember Monique Limon, where she oversees legislative issue areas surrounding K-12 education policy, immigration, agriculture and labor, and consumer protection. Ramirez Zárate earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Policy from UCLA. While studying at UCLA, she served on the board for IDEAS, a student advocacy group that supported undocumented students. In her role as Fundraising Chair, she led the efforts to secure financial support for undocumented students pursuing higher education in the Los Angeles area.

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

Cary Matsuoka, District Representative

Superintendent, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Cary Matsuoka has been Superintendent of the Santa Barbara Unified School District since 2016. Matsuoka received his teaching credentials from UC Davis, before earning his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from San Jose State University. He spent seventeen years as a teacher and nineteen years in administrative roles. He taught chemistry, physics, and AP computer science at Saratoga High School, and served as a high school assistant principal, district coordinator, and high school principal.

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.

Joanna Pascoe, District Representative

Music Teacher, Franklin Elementary School

Pascoe is an alumnus of Azusa Pacific University, where she received both a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Music. Although Pascoe studied opera during her years at Azusa Pacific, she is also a classically trained dancer and enjoys bringing various styles of dance into her music classroom. Her in her position at Franklin Elementary School, she teaches general music, singing, dancing, band, and orchestra. She has also collaborated with the Santa Barbara Bowl, Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, Concerto Accordions, and several local musicians in order to further the development of music programs and provide unique growth opportunities for her students.

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

Katie Szopa

Programs Manager

Honorary Council

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

Past Presidents

  • 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