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Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative
Diane has been working with several organizations on climate change solutions for the past fifteen years. Her particular interest is in renewable electricity, including both generation and storage.
She is currently a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ National Advisory Board, Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council’s President’s Council, and the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management’s Dean’s Council and has also been on the board of directors of the Community Environmental Council and the World Business Academy. Diane and her late husband, Anton Vonk, established a Chair in Environmental Politics at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the department of Political Science.
Diane also convenes fellow past board members of the Community Environmental Council for regular meetings to keep each other informed about environmental issues, to learn from guest speakers and to organize to attend county and city hearings and speak in support of environmental action, such as the current program to institute community choice energy in Santa Barbara county.
After completing a Ph.D. in social psychology, Diane worked as an Organization Development Consultant for Corning Glass Works in Corning, New York and for Scallop Corporation in New York City. She created and managed Scallop’s first affirmative action plan. She also worked for Scallop on transfer of technology to developing countries, making films on such projects in Nigeria and Oman. She also wrote film scripts on business subjects for McGraw-Hill.
While living in London for almost twenty years Diane trained as a psychotherapist in Hakomi, one of the earliest therapies combining mindfulness practice, cognitive behaviorism and body/mind awareness.
A lover of classical music, she was one of the founding board members of the Handel House Museum in London. George Frideric Handel lived most of his life in that house; it is where he wrote “Messiah” and where he died.
In Santa Barbara, Diane has served on the board of the Ensemble Theatre, the love of theater carrying on from her teenage years when she danced in community musical theater in the Chicago area.
“In Montecito, the effects of climate change became horribly real and personal in the past year in particular. It is overwhelming to take responsibility for the whole planet, but we can do something practical and innovative right here. Let’s just do it!”
Sharon Byrne is an accomplished neighborhood advocate, having won two national awards for her work on Milpas St. She started her neighborhood organizing career working in West Downtown of Santa Barbara, where she made the neighborhood safer, and got reformed taggers to paint large art mural painted that stopped gang graffiti. She then worked with Milpas organizing the businesses, residents, schools and non-profits for multiple initiatives including a Healthier Community, the annual Milpas Holiday Parade, a Trick or Treat on Milpas St, and a trash can art project called “Yes We Can” so area children could decorate dilapidated public wastebins and give the neighborhood a vibrant outdoor arts gallery. She started the Milpas Outreach Project where multiple businesses and service agencies partnered to house and relocate the 11 most frequently offending and chronically homeless individuals from Milpas. She’s the new Executive Director with the Montecito Association, after a successful engagement guiding the Coast Village Association to success. She recently helped produce the “Montecito Community Table” with the Capps Foundation at Montecito Union School.
Sharon has a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, and a Master’s in Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. In her free time, she serves as: Chair of the Behavioral Wellness Commission for Santa Barbara County VP of Communications for the United Nations Association of Santa Barbara, where she raises awareness of human trafficking and other global issues affecting us locally. Board member, Salvation Army Hospitality House Steering Committee for Santa Barbara ACT (an organization dedicated to helping survivors of human trafficking) Steering Committee for Love My Local Business Campaign for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
“In every crisis are the seeds of a tremendous opportunity to finally fix longstanding problems thought previously to be insurmountable. The disaster and resultant destruction of utilities infrastructure show us that we need to find ways to make our community more resilient, to provide ourselves with better resources to weather the next crisis, and ensure we are not as vulnerable in future. The microgrid offers Montecito a chance to keep our most important services powered during a crisis, using renewable energy. As someone with an engineering background, who’s very focused on community, this is a hugely important initiative at this time.”
Tom Dain has made Santa Barbara his home for over 45 years as a general contractor specializing in Construction Management and Real Estate Development. Though his early years were primarily high end Residential and Commercial improvements, he now focuses primarily on Commercial.
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Tom was a co-founder of “Logos,” one of the first alternative high schools in St. Louis as well as the nation, working with professors and PhD’s to develop a robust curriculum to engage at-risk students. Today, Logos is still a self-supporting thriving alternative to the St. Louis Public schools. After one year, with the school becoming accredited, Tom went on to study fine arts and photography at Blackburn University in Carlinville, Illinois.
Tom has also served as an advisory board member for the Anti-Defamation League, Casa Serena, and the Dream Foundation. When not working, Tom spends his time with the love of his life Julianna Friedman, and their five children. Tom also enjoys outdoor sports, tennis, skiing, hiking, scuba diving, and long range fishing.
“My involvement as a Steering Committee member of the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative gives me the opportunity to give back to our generous community in a way that looks forward to the wellbeing of our children and future generations. If we do not create the shift to responsible, renewable energy, who will? We must lead the way.”
Cindy Feinberg and her husband, Michael Feinberg, have lived in Montecito for the past seventeen years. They have three children: Dan who attended Montecito Union School (MUS), Santa Barbara Middle School (SBMS) and Santa Barbara High School (SBHS) and is a recent graduate from UC Davis; Jason who attended MUS, Laguna Blanca, SBHS and is currently a sophomore at UC Berkeley and Arielle who attended MUS and is currently in 8th grade at SBMS.
Cindy hails from Beachwood, Ohio and received her BA from Tufts University and her MBA from the American Graduate School of International Management. She has worked as an Admissions Counselor for Tufts University, held sales/marketing positions at Proctor & Gamble, CNN, The Disney Channel and was a corporate VP at STARZ/ENCORE. Cindy has also been very involved in the local Santa Barbara community volunteering with the Montecito Union School PTA for over sixteen years including serving as president for one year. She has also volunteered at Congregation B’nai B’rith, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and has served on the Boards for Hadassah and The Montecito Association and was Board President of the Montecito Association in 2015.
Currently, Cindy sits on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara and the Montecito YMCA. She is also on the Beautification Committee for the Montecito Association. In addition to her involvement in the community, she also has a full time job as Editor in Chief of the Hope Ranch Living Magazine.
“I am passionate about moving the Micorgrid Project forward in Montecito because it will provide a much needed back up source of energy for the community. In addition, it demonstrates our commitment to renewable energy and enables our community to be a leader in finding new ways to meet the energy demands of the future.”
Julianna Cooper Friedman was born in Budapest, Hungary. She escaped from Europe with her parents during the overthrow of the communist regime in Hungary in December 1956. Julianna, the youngest of four children, lived in New York for two years before settling in Los Angeles with her parents. There, she met and married Jeffrey Friedman, who was born and raised in New York City.
Designing and sewing her own clothes starting at age 12, Julianna always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. With husband Jeffrey, they started their own manufacturing company beginning with silk scarves and eventually developed a nationally recognized ready to wear company. As the garment business grew they began investing in commercial and industrial real estate, which became their primary business.
Julianna and Jeffrey moved to Montecito in 1991 from Brentwood, California with their two daughters Jessica and Samantha. Both girls attended Laguna Blanca School. Jessica received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Tulane University in New Orleans and is now living in Washington, D.C. working in the non-profit sector. Samantha graduated from UCSB and now works for Montecito Real Estate Investments, a commercial real estate firm in Santa Barbara.
After the untimely death of Jeffrey in 1996, Julianna, in addition to managing her family business, became very active in the community. Julianna supports the work of several local non-profits including Hillel, where she was involved in the Major Donor Fundraising and development of the Hillel center, dedicating the chapel in honor of Jeffrey Friedman. She also became deeply involved in the causes and projects of the ADL, Laguna Blanca School, the Santa Barbara Jewish Federation, The Sophie Taubman Symposiums at UCSB, the Santa Barbara Bowl, the Granada Theatre and Life Chronicles, to name a few. Julianna has also served on the board of Laguna Blanca School, Hillel, and the ADL, and has opened her home on numerous occasions to host community events.
Julianna is engaged to Tom Dain, who has been a supportive partner and advocate of her work and a dedicated father to his three children and Julianna’s daughters. He has served on the board of the ADL, SBCC Foundation, and shared the commitment to support charitable work that is so important to Julianna and our community.
“The reason I’m involved with the Clean Coalition is because it is imperative for the future of our world that we turn to renewable, clean energy and rid our planet of pollution. We must recognize the importance of an expedient transition to sustainable energy sources for our benefit and the benefit of our children.”
Berna Kieler has a history of deep involvement in community commitments. She has held numerous Board of Director and member positions and continues to be involved and support the Santa Barbara Organic Soup Kitchen, Santa Barbara Life Chronicles, Montecito Association, Sara House, Sierra Club, Green Peace, Humane Society, Green Party, and the World Business Academy. In response to the Montecito debris flows, Berna founded the Recovery Project and the Recovery Free Store, which has greatly helped survivors of the Thomas Fire and debris flows piece their lives back together by providing free clothes to men, women, and children. Berna is also a founding member of the Santa Barbara Climate Reality Chapter.
Berna’s owns Berna Kieler Associates Design and Consulting Firm, which engages in design marketing and brand building for the women’s footwear industry. Since founding the firm in 1992, this work has allowed her to travel frequently to Europe and South East Asia. Berna is married to author David Debin and has with two grown children and nine grandchildren. She has actively worked on environmental projects for many years and finds it to be her biggest passion, second to her family. She dedicates this work, along with her charitable contributions, to her grandchildren and wants to see sustainable energy replace fossil fuels in her lifetime.
“Sustainable Energy is not only vital to our future, it’s the biggest source of business start ups and new jobs for our country and the globe in the next century. Fossil fuel companies need not loose out. They can refocus and invest their capital in this new industry. It’s a win win!”
Lee Lysne is Executive Director of the Kind World Foundation (KWF). Established in 1991 by Norman W. Waitt Jr., Kind World is a private family foundation with staff in Santa Barbara, CA, Omaha, NE and Santa Fe, NM. KWF is dedicated to funding projects that support community service, health, education, the environment and arts and culture. Grants are primarily made in those geographical areas where the founder has existing personal or business interests.
Prior to her work with the Kind World Foundation and Waitt Media, Inc., Ms. Lysne served as Executive Director of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, an environmental nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe, NM. She also worked as Executive Producer for Pecos River Leaning Center’s media production and corporate training facility. Prior to moving to Santa Fe in 1990 Lee lived in Minneapolis, MN where she worked as a Media consultant, corporate trainer and special events producer for Carlson Marketing Group, advertising and marketing executive for Campbell Mithun Advertising and Executive Producer of the Council on Quality Educations’ state funded Minnesota Living History educational video series which is still used today in high schools throughout the state. Continuing her commitment to community outreach and education Lee also worked at KTCA Public Television in St. Paul, MN as a special projects producer, broadcast journalist and regular contributor to the MacNeil Lehrer News Hour.
Most recently as a 5 year member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Lee was responsible for developing and implementing Kind World’s 1.5 million dollar multi-year grant commitment to help provide greater access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation and hygiene in the developing world through the CGI project – Tapped Out: Addressing the Global Water Crisis.
Lee’s projects as an independent media producer include the documentary Silent Witness narrated by Robert Redford and commissioned by the National Park Service. A recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award, Lee currently lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“This year’s tragic natural disasters on California’s central coast have made it abundantly clear that a reliable local power grid is essential for the protection of both lives and property. Providing the public as well as our first responders with a dependable source of power and water is even more important when local utility systems fail due to catastrophic fires, floods or mud slides. The construction of the Montecito Upper Village Community Microgrid pilot project will help address this critical need through the installation of an innovative solar energy grid system to be mounted on the roof of the Montecito Fire Station. To help support the project the Kind World Foundation created a $150,000 matching fund community challenge grant. We hope the public will join us and help the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative raise the funds still needed to make this $300,000 project a reality now. When completed the Montecito microgrid will also serve as a prototype for the construction of additional solar grids which will provide year round clean, reasonably priced solar energy to our communities.
Today it seems the question is no longer what if another natural disaster strikes but rather where and when it will happen. The creation of the Montecito Upper Village Community Microgrid seems like a good place to start preparing and protecting our citizens for both today and tomorrow’s challenges.”
Sara Miller McCune is the founder of SAGE Publishing and executive chairman of the company’s board of directors. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit and an unwavering dedication to academia, the then-24-year-old Sara founded SAGE in 1965 to start a company that would allow scholars to disseminate quality research in their own voices and break new ground in emerging fields of study. Today, McCune also serves as a director of SAGE Publications Ltd. (London, founded in 1971) and Corwin, a SAGE company and leading publisher for educational administrators and teachers. SAGE set up subsidiaries in India in 1981, in Singapore in 2006, in Melbourne in 2016, and has additional major offices in Beijing and Shanghai, Cairo, Toronto, and Washington DC. McCune remains actively involved in the company’s expansion and development.
Reflecting her longstanding interest in philanthropy, especially in promoting social, educational, economic, and environmental justice, McCune is founder and president of the McCune Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Ventura County, California, where SAGE’s home office is located. The foundation supports productive change through building social capital in two counties on California’s Central Coast.
In 2007, McCune founded the Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media and Public Policy, which launched the award-winning magazine Pacific Standard. In 2017, the magazine and the Center’s mission were transferred to The Social Justice Foundation, a non-profit organization supported by SAGE Publishing.
In 2012, McCune received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Queens College, for her visionary work as publisher, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. In 2014, she was awarded an honorary fellowship from Cardiff University and an honorary doctorate from Bath University, and in 2016, McCune received honorary degrees from CSU Channel Islands and Sussex University. In 2017, Ms. McCune was honored by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (UK) for her contribution to scholarly publishing and in 2018, she was awarded the prestigious London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her 50+ years working within the publishing industry. She is also an Honorary Fellow of both CASBS at Stanford, and Pembroke College at Oxford.
An active supporter of the behavioral and social sciences, McCune was a long-serving member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, currently serves on the board of directors for the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University, and chairs the Visiting Committee at the Social Science Research Council based in New York, where she also serves on its Board of Directors. In 2018 she was offered membership to the highly prestigious American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States.
“As a longtime community activist and someone who is keen on environmental justice, I want to see the Montecito Microgrid serve as the prototype for other communities across the United States. This initiative is hugely important to me personally, as a homeowner that has invested significantly in real estate and landscaping at my new home on San Ysidro Road (not far from the San Ysidro Ranch).”
Michael Weissman Ph.D. is a scientist, engineer, entrepreneur, and citizen activist. As a scientist, he advanced our knowledge of how the wind generates waves; as an engineer he was developed unique 3D stereoscopic vision systems; as an entrepreneur, he has founded three companies, the second of which, TrueVision 3D Surgical, is on-going and thriving in Goleta, CA.
During the mortgage crisis in 2008-2010, Dr. Weissman was active in the fight to keep people in their homes. He then helped to organize and lead Santa Barbara chapters of Move to Amend and Money Out, Voters In, two organizations that are fighting to overturn the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision and to abolish the influence of “big money” in politics. More recently, Dr. Weissman’s work in public service has been in the area of “next generation” alternative energy. He has supported the World Business Academy’s work in this area as a volunteer and as Project Sponsor, and he is currently working with the Clean Coalition to establish community microgrids, which enable local sustainable solar energy.
Dr. Weissman earned his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, and he performed post-doctoral research at Imperial College, London, and the National Maritime Institute, Teddington, where he lived for six years. He is happily married and has 2 children and 3 stepchildren.
“Of course, the continued use of fossil fuels is going to kill the planet, and, of course, the government is not doing enough to change the country over to clean, renewable solar power. So… It is up to us! Thank goodness for the work that the Clean Coalition and the World Business Academy are doing to establish alternative energy sources! I am grateful and honored to be able to help.”
There is a unique opportunity to build back right in Montecito after a devastating wildfire and debris flow, while ensuring indefinite renewables-driven backup power for critical emergency response and recovery facilities.
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