25th Annual Red Feather Ball

On September 23rd, 2022, United Way of Santa Barbara County hosted its 25th annual Red Feather Ball. The gala is the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year, supporting United Way’s academic programming and initiatives. The celebration took place at the Montecito Club in Santa Barbara and hosted a sold-out crowd for a Voyage to Marrakesh. The event marked the organization’s formal return to its traditional gala, following two years of virtual and hybrid events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, the event raised over $347,000, with 100% of the event’s proceeds directly supporting programs within United Way’s Academic Achievement initiative, including the United Learning Center tutoring program, the Early Learning Success Institutes, and the national award-winning Fun in the Sun summer learning program. Together, United Way’s academic programming operates at sites throughout Santa Barbara County, from Carpinteria to Guadalupe, serving hundreds of students each year with literacy support, STEAM and enrichment activities, and a social-emotional curriculum.

The evening honored the Zegar Family Foundation as the evening’s title sponsor, with Merryl Zegar as the event’s Honorary Chair. Earlier this year, The Zegar family was also presented with the organization’s Alexis de Tocqueville award for Outstanding Philanthropy.

The event included a short program, with speakers from United Way’s executive leadership team. “As we celebrate this special Red Feather anniversary, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the last 25 years of our organization. I see a lot of growth, both in the increased need experienced by our community and in United Way’s capacity to address it,” said Steve Ortiz, President & CEO of the organization. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but not one step of this journey would have been possible without the support of those I see here tonight. We are so lucky to have such a strong network.”

At the conclusion of the program, guests were invited to watch the premiere of the 2022 Fun in the Sun program video, highlighting stories and testimonials from the recently concluded summer program. The video highlighted district partners, student testimonials, and parent stories from the recent program.  

Following the video, the program moved into the fundraising portion of the evening, raising a record total of over $176,00 during the live ask. Contributions made during this portion of the evening directly sponsor student scholarships, materials and curriculum, and enrichment activities across the spectrum of academic programming operated by United Way.

United Way leadership was thankful for the opportunity to return to their traditional gala in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the event. They thanked their dedicated network of philanthropic and community partners and supporters for the success of the event and their general operations throughout the year. “As we continue on the road to recovery, so many in our community remain in need of the unique programs and services that United Way provides each year,” said Ortiz. “We are grateful for your show of support tonight to help us continue to fill the gap for these students and families as they rebuild and recover.”


Event Committee:

Xorin Balbes , Truman Davies, Noemie Brish, Shari Liu Fellows, Belle Hahn, Lily Hahn, Fran Kirchmair, Marsha Kotlyar, Amber Ortiz, Amie Parrish, Lily Phillips, Vanessa Ringel, Evelina Ruimy, Nati Smith, Bonnie Star, Tanya Thicke


Red Feather Sponsor:

David & Stefanie Jackson, Zegar Family Foundation


Platinum Feather Sponsors:

Belle Hahn, Lily Hahn


Gold Feather Sponsors:

City National Bank, Julianna & Tom Dain


Silver Feather Sponsors:

Bechtel, Cottage Health, ExxonMobil, Robert & Joan Hollman, Kayne Anderson Rudnick Wealth Advisors, Cliff & Diane Lundberg, Mosher Foundation, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Wells Fargo, Zia Group

Bronze Feather Sponsors:

AGIA Affinity, Paul and Bobbi Didier*, Casa Dorinda, Montecito Bank & Trust, Northern Trust, David Reichert, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, Anne Towbes, Union Bank, Village Properties

VIP Sponsors

Noemie & Liron Brish, Bonnie Star & Les Joseph, Briq, Gary Clancy , Stephen & Libby Erickson, Alex & Amanda Koper, Frederick Oshay, Vanessa Ringel


Bryant & Sons , City National Bank , Santa Barbara Zoo


Photography by Isaac Hernandez and Meg Sandu.