Congratulations to our former Goleta and Santa Ynez Valley Library Director Allison Gray, who was recognized with a 2023 Goleta’s Finest Award on her birthday. Allison was honored as the Public Servant of the Year. She said it was “literally the best birthday present I’ve ever received, and the most unexpected.” A formal celebration was held at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara last Friday night, December 1st, to honor remarkable individuals whose contributions have enhanced the Goleta community.
During her acceptance speech, Allison credited her late mother who served as the library director in East Hampton New York for 27 years, for igniting her passion to pursue a career in library services. She said her mom was, “a shining example of what it means to be a public servant.”
Allison also recalled the moment she understood the importance of public libraries while working at a library in Long Island, New York near the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She said, “Our community had been impacted and people came to the library seeking community, and a sense of togetherness. It was at this point that I realized the importance of libraries and it has informed my work ever since. I try to give my all every day to my community.”
At the awards ceremony Allison was recognized for her remarkable 37-year career in library services, 15 of those which were served at the Goleta Valley Library. The awards write up stated, “Throughout her tenure, Allison’s commitment was evident in her initiation of innovative programs for families and children. Her vast experience and persistent dedication were instrumental in guiding the Goleta Valley Library System through the challenging COVID-19 closures, ensuring that the community continued to have access to essential library services. The Goleta community extends its heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Gray for her years of selfless service.”
The Goleta’s Finest Award is a 73-year tradition. Congratulations to all of this year’s award recipients (listed below) and thank you to the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce for putting on this wonderful event.
The 2023 Goleta’s Finest Award Recipients are:
- Woman of the Year – Jackie Parker
- Man of the Year – Marty Plourd
- Educator of the Year – Scott Guttentag
- Students of the Year – Valeria Tiburcio Romo
- Volunteer of the Year – Fritz Olenberger
- Innovator of the Year – Demis D. John, PhD
- Public Servant of the Year – Allison Gray
- President’s Award – Christine LeBon