Get to Know...Women's Fund 2017-18 Steering Co-Chairs

Laurie Tumbler and Shelley Hurst

Every year after the Presentation of Grants, the Women’s Fund Steering Committee Co-Chairs change, and a new year begins under their leadership. This year our co-chairs are Shelley Hurst and Laurie Tumbler. Laurie returns after having served last year with Nancy Harter, and Shelley is brand new to the position.

So that you can get to know them better, we caught up with them at a local café during one of their frequent meetings.

First we asked them some questions about their new positions as Steering Co-Chairs. Here are their responses:

What are the things you want to accomplish as Steering Co-Chairs?
Our ambitious, three-year plan is our guide for the goals we want to accomplish. It focuses on so many areas—membership, communications, growth, grant making, organizational structure, and more. All areas are critical to our continued success, we would encourage our members to review the strategic plan, which is posted on our website.

Specifically, our goals are:

  • Continue to grow our leadership team, and to welcome members who want to be more involved in the organizational aspects of the Women’s Fund.
  • Promote the Women’s Fund more broadly in the community to raise awareness of what we do and how we do it. We are a major grant maker in Santa Barbara, and many in the community have never heard of us. 
  • Measure and communicate the WF’s impact in our community.

What are your biggest challenges in the year ahead?
As our membership continues to grow, we need to manage that growth so we remain connected as a group of educated and engaged community donors. To that end, we need to evaluate our organizational structure to ensure we are serving our members in the most effective way possible.

We also need to think differently about our organization. We have moved from a “start up” to a mid-size organization with close to 800 members and an annual grants pool reaching $485,000 in 2016-17. Our procedures, processes and organizational structure must evolve to support our continual growth.

Our next questions were of a more personal nature:

How long have you been in Santa Barbara and what brought you here?
 I arrived in Santa Barbara in 2000 from Los Angeles. I was looking for a great volunteer home in which I could invest my skills and time, and I found it in Santa Barbara.

Shelley:  After taking an early retirement package from a high-tech company in the Silicon Valley, I relocated to Santa Barbara in 2013. With kids out of the house, I decided it was my time for an adventure, and I took out a map and visited all the places I love in the US. Santa Barbara came out on top.

What is the one word you would use to describe the Women’s Fund?  
Laurie:  Trusted and effective. I needed more than one word.

Shelley:  Committed.

When and why did you join the WF?
  I joined in 2008. Our group numbered five friends, all affiliated with the Santa Barbara Newcomers Club, and we shared a commitment to the collective giving model. Our group, Fabulous Friends, has grown and changed over time, but we still have three founding members and five terrific more recent members.

Shelley:  A friend invited me to the Site Visit Kick-Off and I was interested, but visiting grantee sites finalized it for me. Three things about the Women’s Fund model were very attractive to me—the pooling of our resources, voting and supporting the community.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering for the WF?
Laurie:  I love to cook and experiment with new recipes, and it’s fun to invite in friends who don’t necessarily enjoy cooking as much as I do. They are always an appreciative audience.

Shelley:  Getting together with family and friends, going to the theater, admiring art that I can’t afford, walking on the beach with my dog, reading, traveling when the budget allows and pretending to exercise. And being an appreciative tester for Laurie.

Are you involved in any other nonprofits in town?
  Since moving to Santa Barbara, I have been on several nonprofit boards, but I am not currently volunteering at another organization. I find my work with the Women’s Fund very fulfilling. I must say, I really enjoy the time I spend with the Women’s Fund leadership and our members.

Shelley: Actually, I am looking around for another nonprofit to support. There are so many good organizations in Santa Barbara; it is hard to figure out. My interests are political engagement, women’s issues and environmental causes.  I would welcome suggestions.

What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement? 
  Before we had the Internet, I ran my own financial research company for several years. I left a great job at a large bank to get it up and running. It was a real challenge but well worth it.

Shelley:  While I have held big jobs with big titles, my greatest achievements have been mentoring young women entering the workforce.”

If you could pick three adjectives to describe yourself, what would they be? 
Laurie:  Kind, inquisitive and passionate.

Shelley:  Empathic, adventurous and hard-working.

What is the one thing most people don't know about you? 
Laurie:  I took up fencing in college. On guard…

Shelley:  I taught English in Japan.

If you could be invisible anywhere, where would you go and what would you do? 
  I have an adorable seven-month-old grandson who lives in Los Angeles.  If I could be a fly on the wall and watch him grow and change each day, I would be in heaven.

Shelley:  I’d like to be a fly on the wall in the Oval Office.


Women's Fund Interview