Tag Archives: civic leaders

Four Local Leaders Join Leading From Within Board

Four new members – Katya Armistead, Ashley Costa, Alma Hernández, and Kiah Jordan – have joined the Board of Directors of Leading From Within, marking an important transition as the 12-year-old nonprofit expands its board by one member and embarks on a strategic plan in 2021.

Leading From Within’s volunteer Board of Directors works closely with the organization’s Executive Director and president to oversee and support the nonprofit’s commitment to its mission to invest in people who drive and create change in Santa Barbara County.

“We are no longer a start-up organization,” said Edward France, Executive Director of Leading From Within. “It’s a testament to Leading From Within that trustees with great depth of experience would say yes to joining our Board. Each new member contributes to civic leadership for our community in their own way, and they are complementing the whole of our board of directors in coming together to support leadership programs that improve our communities.”

Katya Armistead

Katya Armistead, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Student Life at UC Santa Barbara

As the Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Student Life at UC Santa Barbara, Katya Armistead serves as the control point for ten Student Affairs departments and works on special projects often related to campus climate and diversity. Armistead also teaches a leadership course at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and is a certified trainer for The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, a research-based curriculum that she co-facilitates at Leading From Within. Armistead’s involvement with Leading From Within dates back to her participation in the Katherine Harveys Fellows program more than a decade ago. She also serves on Leading From Within’s alumni committee and participates in one of the organization’s peer learning circles.

“I have so enjoyed my work with Leading From Within and have personally received so much value through my involvement with the organization,” said Armistead. “It’s an honor to be part of the Board.” 

Katya brings more than 30 years’ experience in education to her Board position, as well as her perspective as a woman of color who is passionate about and experienced in supporting issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I think it’s important to have thoughtful yet challenging conversations that we may have avoided,” she said. “It’s critical to engage in civic dialogue and provide spaces to amplify voices that are not often heard. Leading From Within recognizes the value of this work.”

Armistead is also a member of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs’ executive committee and a member of the Chancellor’s Senior Officers’ group. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1988 and her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership in 2012, both from UC Santa Barbara. She served for a decade on the Board (including as co-chair) for the nonprofit Family Service Agency. Katya has been a mentor for CADA’s Fighting Back Mentor Program, and helped create and is a mentor for The Fund for Santa Barbara’s Youth Making Change program. When she isn’t working or volunteering, Katya enjoys early-morning walks, reading, and dining out.

Ashley Costa

Ashley Costa, Executive Director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization

Ashley Costa is the Executive Director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization which facilitates the Healthy Lompoc Coalition, a partnership of local leaders and volunteers working together to improve the health of Lompoc Valley residents. Some of the nonprofit’s greatest accomplishments include collaborating on a volunteer committee and partnering to raise $1.6 million toward the capital overhaul of a community track and field in Lompoc. Costa’s organization has also served as advisor and participant to the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan and for the past six years has worked in partnership with the Santa Barbara Foundation to better assist seniors and caregivers in the Lompoc Valley.

Costa participated in the Emerging Leaders Program at a pivotal time in her young career and she credits the Leading From Within program with giving her the confidence and courage to step into a larger role and accept her first-ever Executive Director position.

“I was just 28 years old and considering the transition to Executive Director,” explained Costa. “The Emerging Leaders program was so impactful in not only providing skills and leadership development but also in building my confidence and network, which ultimately gave me the encouragement that I needed to accept that promotion.”

Having now spent six years in her Executive Director role, Costa said she’s delighted to have the opportunity to give back to Leading From Within. 

“It’s refreshing that Leading From Within genuinely wants to learn from my experiences and I know I’m not just checking a box and filling a Board seat but will be respected and engaged for my ideas and opinions,” said Costa.  

In addition to sharing her ideas, Costa hopes to bring the North- and Mid-County perspectives to the board room and to cultivate leadership in the Lompoc Valley.

“There’s a silver lining to the unprecedented times that we find ourselves in, driving us to be more innovative and flexible, and more accepting of change,” said Costa. “It’s an exciting time to be joining a board that is leaning into this unchartered space.”

A native of Lompoc, Ashley graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a B.S. in Political Science. She was elected to the Lompoc City Council in 2010 and served until 2014. Ashley began working with the Healthy Lompoc Coalition as a volunteer in 2010 and as Director of Community Health in 2013. Two years later she accepted the role of Executive Director. Costa practices what she preaches as a fitness enthusiast. She loves working out in her home gym and hiking with her husband and dalmatian.

Alma Hernández 

Alma Hernández, District Representative for County Supervisor Joan Hartmann

Alma Hernández has over 20 years’ experience working in rural, largely immigrant, communities developing leadership through cooperative efforts and by placing community members at the forefront of decision-making processes. She currently serves as a District Representative for County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, where she has worked for the past three years building leadership opportunities for underserved populations. 

“Local government doesn’t necessarily reflect our population, especially in the North County,” explained Hernández. “We need to create pathways that enable our Latinx community to make connections, access resources, and gain confidence in their skills.” Hernández is dedicated to increasing diversity in leadership and ensuring that all voices are respected and heard. She will bring this expertise and passion to Leading From Within.

“I am excited to join the Board of Leading From Within, where I hope to expand the network of North County and Latinx leadership,” said Hernández.

As a graduate of Leading From Within’s Leading for Community Impact program, Hernández knows firsthand the transformational power of the nonprofit’s programs. She participated in the cohort while working as director of Guadalupe’s Little House by the Park, where her focus included the promotion of open, communal, multicultural, and artistic spaces. She credits her Leading for Community Impact “passion project” with giving her the confidence and providing guidance to help her work in collaboration with others to successfully establish Santa Maria’s first Cultural and Creative Arts Center. Hernández said she worked closely with community partners to create an open and safe space for teens to connect and express themselves through art.

Hernández has also served as chair of the Dune’s Center Internal Affairs Committee and Board, Vice President on the CAUSE Board of Directors and as a Board Member for The Fund for Santa Barbara. She was born in Arizona to a first-generation immigrant family from Mexico and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cal Poly and a Master’s in Public Administration from Cal State Northridge. In her spare time Hernández loves the outdoors, hiking, biking, and running.

Kiah Jordan

Kiah Jordan, founder of Impact Family Office

Kiah Jordan is the founder of Impact Family Office, a family office dedicated to aligning clients’ financial resources with their values to generate the greatest impact. Jordan works with clients, supporting their objectives while implementing long-term perspectives on the impact of, not only his clients’ balance sheets, but also their succession plans, wealth transfer plans, and philanthropic engagement.

Prior to starting Impact Family Office, Jordan worked for Santa Barbara Capital, a real estate investment firm, and it was during this time that he completed his Certified Financial Planner™ designation and found a passion for applying a holistic planning perspective to personal finances and business operations. 

An advocate for socially conscious ventures and entrepreneurship, Jordan dedicates much of his time to start-ups and organizations that benefit the Central Coast, including Leading From Within. He graduated from the Katherine Harvey Fellows program at Leading From Within and remains involved with the organization through peer learning circles and alumni networks.

“Leading From Within was extremely beneficial in helping me think through my contributions in the community,” commented Jordan, who credits the nonprofit with helping leaders apply their passions and talents to improve the communities they serve.

Jordan brings a keen and creative financial lens to his work at Leading From Within. His educational background transcends the nonprofit and for-profit realms while his work bridges fiduciary and philanthropic worlds. He says this cross-sectional experience will benefit Leading From Within which similarly straddles and serves diverse sectors.

“Leading From Within promotes leadership growth in the for-profit, nonprofit and social sectors, and I hope that my experience thinking strategically across these industries will help the organization blend these distinct worlds in effective and innovative ways.”

Jordan is a founding board member of the Sustainable Change Alliance and serves on the Executive Committee for the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, and on the board of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. Additionally, he is a National Certified Guardian by the Center for Guardianship Certification and a licensed Professional Fiduciary by the California Professional Fiduciaries Bureau. Kiah graduated from Westmont College, where he now serves as an adjunct professor. He completed his master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. 

Outside of the office, Kiah enjoys outdoor adventures with his wife and three children and plays soccer in a local recreation league. He and his wife recently recertified as a resource family for children in the Santa Barbara foster care system.

Founded in 2008, Leading From Within invests in people who drive and create change in Santa Barbara County. Its leadership programs, alumni education, and impact networks cultivate leaders who are renewed, prepared, connected and collaborating for the greater good. For more information, visit http://leading-from-within.org.

The Nonprofit Prophet

Even the most vociferous critics of genetic engineering would have to concede: we need more Ken Saxons in the world.

Equal parts entrepreneur, social visionary, pragmatic analyst, and leadership matchmaker, Saxon has been serving the Santa Barbara community for nearly 25 years as a guiding force behind some of the most progressive nonprofit and philanthropic programs in the country. 

“I love to create organizations, grow teams, and create something that makes a difference,” he says. “That’s my orientation. I like to be creative and nimble.”

He is that, and more. As founder of the Courage To Lead Program for nonprofit leaders in 2008, Leading From Within’s Emerging Leaders Program in 2013, and recipient of Santa Barbara Foundation’s 2012 Man Of The Year Award, Saxon has been bringing together civic leaders, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits in Santa Barbara to more effectively work together through strategic alliances. 

“Business will always do what business can do profitably, and government has limited resources,” he says. “Beyond that, if you look at key areas of quality of life – education, healthcare, the environment, the arts – much of that is funded by philanthropy and executed by the nonprofit sector. A community with a healthier, more prosperous nonprofit sector is generally going to have a higher quality of life.”

“A community with a healthier, more prosperous nonprofit sector is generally going to have a higher quality of life”

As the son of a father in commercial real estate and a mother who was a community volunteer, Saxon’s future seemed pre-ordained. After graduating Princeton University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, in 1988 he founded a small but successful logistics management company in the Silicon Valley – fertile ground for a fledgling entrepreneur. Moving to Santa Barbara in 1996 with his wife, a set of one-year-old twins, and family dog Maggie, Saxon initially found himself a Stranger in Paradise. Drawn to community organizations and nonprofits, Saxon began immersing himself in his new surroundings.

“I started to get involved on nonprofit boards,” he recalls, “and found that who I identified with most were the executive directors. They’re very akin to small business people, which is what I had been. They have to wear a lot of hats, and they don’t have enough time or resources. They experience the loneliness of leadership, where there’s not a safe place to talk about what’s keeping them up at night. I related to all of that – and my epiphany was that rather than let them suffer and burn out, we need to invest in them and connect them with each other.” That insight spurred Saxon to create the Courage To Lead Program in 2008, a vital cornerstone of Santa Barbara’s philanthropic and nonprofit community.

Saxon thrives on the ever-evolving dynamics of Santa Barbara’s unique nonprofit sector. “There’s a really unusual confluence of two things here: First is this incredible human capital. One of our greatest assets is that every year there are people who move to Santa Barbara that have experience, talent, gifts and resources, who want to put them to work. The second component is really substantial need. I think many people would be surprised to know that Santa Barbara County has the second-highest poverty rate of any county in California.”

“So when you combine all these people that have creativity, skills and also money – and an obvious need that’s right in front of their faces – that leads to a really significant amount of philanthropy in this region, and a lot of people with really creative ideas to address these needs.”

Reflecting on the recent near-Biblical string of Perfect Storms ravaging the Central Coast nonprofit sector, Saxon offers an insightful yin/yang perspective.

“In the last three years, the paradigm has become very disaster-focused, and that’s both good and bad. It’s good in that it’s catalyzed more philanthropy and some really creative solutions. An example is the 805 Disaster Fund, which is one of the most inspirational efforts I’ve ever seen. 

On the downside, it’s really limited the amount of resources to address fundraising, especially in light of the pandemic. Imagine how hard it’s been for arts organizations, when some funders say, ‘We’re not going to give our normal grants this year because we’re going to give money to address the mudslides or the fires or the pandemic.’”

“We will get past these current crises – as we have so many in our past,” Saxon assures, “and nonprofit organizations and philanthropy will lead the way as we rebuild a community that ideally works better for everyone.”

Ken Saxon is still working his altruistic alchemy, eager to embrace a future rich in transition and possibilities. “I do have the good fortune in that for more than 30 years I’ve had a great deal of say in what I do and who I do it with,” he reflects. “It’s a real blessing in my life. I feel so lucky about that.”

And Santa Barbara is lucky have Ken Saxon, even if there is only one of him.