The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the 2017 Goleta’s Finest Award Winners. Goleta’s Finest is a 68-year old tradition honoring remarkable individuals whose contributions have enhanced the Goleta community.

The 2017 award recipients will be honored with a formal celebration on Saturday, December 2nd, 6:00-9:30 p.m. at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Bacara.  The evening will include food stations, wine and beer, followed by the awards ceremony.

The 2017 Goleta’s Finest winners are:

Man of the Year: Roger Aceves

Roger Aceves is serving his 11th year on the Goleta City Council, serving two terms as Mayor – he has never missed a meeting. Roger is a lifetime resident and community activist. After finishing his 30-year law enforcement career at the Santa Barbara Police Department, Roger has continued to give back to our community. Aceves served as El Presidente for Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara in 2001, and was appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis to the 19th Agricultural District, which runs Earl Warren Showgrounds. He served on the board of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, Goleta Valley Historical Society, Goleta Old Town Community Association and is currently Chairman of the Board for the Goleta Elks Lodge #613. Roger is a champion for the business community and rarely misses a B2B Breakfast to connect with business and his local constituents. Last year, along with his wife, Debby, Roger championed a community campaign and raised $22,000 for Rancho La Patera and Stow House.

Woman of the Year: Karen Ramsdell
Karen Ramsdell is a longtime Goleta resident and champion for education and historical preservation. After 29 years at Santa Barbara Airport, and 37 years of public service with the City of Santa Barbara, Karen retired from her post as Director of the Santa Barbara Airport in 2013. In her position at Airport Director, Karen led the Airline Terminal Project, the $63 million-dollar renovation of our airport. Her passion for historical preservation helped her spearhead the relocation and refurbishment of the Earle Ovington Historical Terminal. Post retirement, her love for history and willingness to give back has continued. Karen has served as president of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society and has been on the board of the Goleta Valley Historical Society since 2010, serving as president for the last four years.

Educator of the Year:
John Dent
John Dent leads the Dos Pueblos Media Department with passion, talent and energy. As chairman of Dos Pueblos’ Career Technical Education Department, Dent is the advisor for the DP News program, the award-winning Dos Pueblos Yearbook, and The Charger Account student-run newspaper. While DP News runs a live show three days a week focusing on the latest information for students, the Charger Account focused on stories relevant to the student body including those happening on campus and in the community. The award-winning DP Yearbook continues to transform the way students’ years are captured. These projects could not happen without Dent motivating his students to continue to innovate and develop professional journalism skills.

Non-Profit of the Year: United Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara County
United Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara County is making a true impact in the lives of the kids in our community. The non-profit youth development agency serves children ages 5-18 years old, at 9 locations across Santa Barbara County. As of July 31, 2015 club members have collectively made 15,889 visits to club locations. Those same members have participated in 2,785 cumulative hours of educational programming. During that same time period UBGC has served 35,010 meals. No child is ever turned away due to their economic situation. Participants in the program are continuing to come more often which allows the program to have a deeper impact. The Goleta club location has been an integral part of our community for many, many years and is well loved for its many programs including the boys basketball league.


Volunteer of the Year: Lisa Rivas

Lisa has been a long-time champion for Goleta and education. In business and personal life Lisa continues to engage with a variety of local non-profits. She has been on several non-profit boards including the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, the Teachers Fund, The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region and the Goleta Lemon Festival to name a few. Most notably, in 2014, Lisa stepped up to rebuild the Goleta Education Foundation. With a goal to transform the all-volunteer organization into a foundation that secures funding for programs to ensure every student in the district has access to the necessary resources, Lisa worked tirelessly to put together a variety of fundraisers, connect with local businesses and create a sustainable program that serves all schools in the Goleta school district.

Student of the Year: Lupe Simon

Lupe Simon stands out in a way that is subtle. After facing challenges through her youth, she sought out the assistance of the Academy for Success program and has thrived personally and academically. Lupe has vastly improved her academics and has continued to challenge herself and push herself outside of her personal comfort zone. She applied for the Yearbook and was accepted and has excelled in Advanced Photography. She is a community builder with her grace and kindness. She is a scholastic contributor with her insight and determination. Lupe plans to go to college next, which was something she was unsure she could ever achieve.

Small Business of the Year:
Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray
Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray, LLP is one of California’s leading law firms, but what sets them apart is their dedication to our local community. Partners at BFAS are deeply involved in their communities serving on a variety of non-profit boards including the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, Hospitality Santa Barbara, NAWBO and The Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region to name a few. Their commitment to community ensures that essential non-profits have access to legal acumen, a wide network of supporters and volunteers with a passion for Goleta.

Large Business of the Year: FLIR Systems
FLIR Systems is one of our area’s largest employers and a leader in the infrared market. FLIR acquired Indigo Systems, a start-up out of UCSB, in the early 2000’s and quickly became the world leader for uncooled infrared devices. Indigo’s small, entrepreneurial staff and FLIR’s sales channel, brand name and financial standing combined to create a perfect storm of productivity and profitability. The company has laid down their roots in Goleta by purchasing their facility at Cabrillo Business Park and moving its 450 employees into one facility there. FLIR is a champion for manufacturing in the USA and a pioneer for lean manufacturing in Goleta.


Innovative Business of the Year: Brighten Solar

Brighten Solar is changing the way solar technology is delivered by creating customized solar solutions, delivering quality products and continuing to focus on spreading the renewable energy footprint. Their team has developed systems for Commercial, Residential, and Non-Profits across the central coast and remain focused on solar education and providing their clients with a range of options and pricing to develop the best systems. Jeremy and Marine have built a great company, based on their genuine passion for renewables and the environment


Entrepreneur of the Year: Apeel Sciences

Apeel Sciences is changing the world through their use of plant-based technology, helping to eliminate food spoilage and reduce reliance on chemicals. With a mission to waste less food, Apeel has developed products hat fortify the surface of fresh fruits and vegetable, forming a thin, organic, barrier that shields produce from both biotic and abiotic stressors. Apeel Sciences is committed to being a technological and environmental leader in the agricultural industry. Their team, made up of nearly 75% Gauchos, recently relocated to a 105,000 square-foot facility in Goleta where they are further developing their products.


Community Impact Award: Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara has been supporting students in their higher education goals since 1962. They provide scholarships to eligible students from Santa Barbara County for college, graduate, and vocational school education. In May of 2017, The Scholarship Foundation awarded $8.4 million in scholarship funding to 2,688 students, with the average award for undergraduate students being $3,207 and for graduate students, $9,065 on average. This year was particularly special as the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara celebrated an important milestone when it reached the $100 million mark in total scholarships awarded during its 55-year history. Leaders say The Foundation is the first community-based organization in the country to reach that mark in financial support for students.

Special Recognition:
Santa Barbara County Fire

As our community continues to face volatile fire seasons, followed by risk of flood, we are extremely grateful for the outstanding team at Santa Barbara County Fire. When the alarm sounds, firefighters may encounter any number of life-threatening calls, including vehicle, hazardous materials, urban search and rescue, water rescue, and of course, vegetation fires. Santa Barbara County Fire is often the first one on scene in any disaster and is a model public safety agency. We are honored to recognize their effectiveness, regional strength and community attentiveness.


“This list of vibrant businesses and individuals really highlights how special the Goleta community is”, said Kristen Miller, President & CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce. “These individuals are making a huge impact on the Goleta community every day.”

The cost to attend Goleta’s Finest is $150 per person. A sponsored table for a group of eight is $1,500. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Please contact the Goleta Chamber of Commerce at or (805) 967-2500 x5 in advance to secure your seats! Please join us on this memorable evening.

The 2017 Goleta’s Finest awards ceremony is presented by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

Special thank you to our Platinum Presenting Sponsors: American Riviera Bank, Buynak Fauver Archbald Spray, Community West Bank, Cox, Impulse Advanced Communications, Montecito Bank and Trust, Pacific Premier Bank, Rabobank, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara Airbus, Spherion, and The Towbes Group.

We would also like to thank our Gold Sponsors: Cabrillo Business Park, Courtyard Marriott Goleta, Mariposa at Ellwood Shores, Marriott Residence Inn, Noozhawk and Signature Flight Support.

Silver sponsors include: Brown and Brown Insurance, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Deckers Brands, FLIR Systems, KARL STORZ Imaging, Latitude 34 Technologies, LogMeIn, Marborg Industries, Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara Independent and Union Bank.

For more information, please contact the Chamber at (805) 967-2500 ext 5, or