All Press Releases for September 15, 2009

Girl Scouts to Recognize Community Leaders at 15th Annual Santa Barbara Women of Distinction Reception

Santa Barbara Women of Distinction Event Honors Local Women; Benefits Local Girl Scouts

    SANTA BARBARA, CA, September 15, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Girl Scouts of California's Central Coast has announced three Santa Barbara area women as recipients of the 15th Annual Women of Distinction Award for having compassionately demonstrated extraordinary community altruism and leadership in their chosen fields: Joanne Funari, Carol Palladini, and Luz Maria Ortiz-Smith. The honorees will be recognized at a reception to be held Thursday evening, September 24th, 2009 at the Montecito Country Club.

"The 2009 honorees share this traditional Girl Scout recognition along with a phenomenal parallel in achievement as all three have helped develop organizations at the foundational level to benefit their communities and make the world a better place," said Sharon Reece, CEO of Girl Scouts of California's Central Coast. "They are exceptional role models to inspire young girls to leadership in today's global society, Reece continued. I join the Santa Barbara community in acknowledging the tremendous accomplishments of these courageous women."

Women of Distinction nominations are sought each year for community women who embody the values of Girl Scouting: leadership, courage, and community service. Women are nominated by their peers or other community members. An external volunteer committee selects the final honorees. Local Girl Scouts interview, and present the honorees during the award event. Since 1993, 68 women have received the award in the Santa Barbara community. The 2009 Women of Distinction Honorees include:

Joanne Funari, President, Business First Bank. Ms. Funari is a founding member of Business First Bank. Ms. Funari is also avidly involved in the Santa Barbara community as board member, co-chair of the Fundraising and Event Committee, and past President of the American Lung Association of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Ms. Funari also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce; board member of the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce; board member of the Santa Barbara Downtown Association; board member of the Santa Barbara Community College Foundation; Second Vice President of Old Spanish Days; and a committee member of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Black & Blue Ball. Ms. Funari is also an active supporter of United Way Programs: Fun in the Sun, Day of Caring, and the Annual Campaign.

Carol Palladini, Founding Chair, Women's Fund of Santa Barbara. Ms. Palladini currently serves on the Oversight Committee of the Women's Fund of Santa Barbara--an organization which has given over $2 million since 2004 to programs that help educate, house, heal, and support women and families. Ms. Palladini has also been a Board member of the local Planned Parenthood affiliate and was its 2005 Volunteer of the Year. She served with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) as an advocate for foster children and Board President.

Luz Maria Ortiz-Smith, Partner, Smith & Ortiz Insurance Services; Rotary District Governor. Ms. Ortiz-Smith was born and raised in Celaya, Mexico. She attended Ohio State University and started her journey in Rotary in 1992 by becoming a charter member of the Rotary Club of Celaya Nat-Tha-Hi, an all female Rotary Club which developed its first matching grant project with the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise to provide cataract surgery to people in need in Celaya. The project continues today between the two clubs and has helped over 750 people. Ms. Ortiz-Smith is Past President of the Sunrise Rotary Club, and is the 2009-2010 District Governor for Rotary District 5240.

The 15th Annual Santa Barbara Women of Distinction Reception is being held at the Montecito Country Club on Thursday, September 24th, 2009 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and is open to the Santa Barbara area community for $25 per person. For reservations call: 800-822-2427 x313, or email [email protected]. Proceeds benefit local Girl Scouts.

About Girl Scouts: Girl Scouts is the world's preeminent organization dedicated to helping build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girls participate in an accepting and nurturing environment and in partnership with committed adult volunteers, developing strong values, leadership skills, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self worth that will serve them all their lives.

Girl Scouts of California's Central Coast serves nearly 12,000 girls in Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Over 1,400 girls are served in Santa Barbara County. For more information, or to donate, visit

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