Downtown Santa Barbara Celebrates Local Businesses, Organizations at 2023 Annual Awards Breakfast

By Downtown Santa Barbara

Community leaders and stakeholders gathered Wednesday, February 15 at the historic El Paseo Restaurant for the Downtown Santa Barbara Annual Awards Breakfast, presented by Southern California Edison. 2023 President of Downtown Santa Barbara’s Board of Directors, Anne Peterson, Executive Director of The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and Downtown Santa Barbara Executive Director, Robin Elander, emceed the event, which honors noteworthy businesses, organizations, and individuals for their contributions to the downtown community.

The highly anticipated 2022 Citizen of the Year award was given to Jeff Shaffer in recognition of his work catalyzing progress surrounding the issue of homelessness. In 2022  Shaffer facilitated important conversations with downtown stakeholders and resource providers to mobilize more services, navigation centers, and shelters for hundreds of individuals without homes. Shaffer has 17 years of dedication to this issue, previously working with SB ACT, and now with City Net – Kingdom Causes and Westmont College, to mentor and inspire future generations.

The 2022 Entrepreneur of the Year award went to John Burnett of Hook & Press Donuts. Burnett has delighted patrons with his masterful, one-of-a-kind creations, as illustrated by the lines of loyal customers regularly pouring out the door at his new location on Figueroa St. Mark Whitehurst of Voice Magazine, who presented the award, shared “It’s truly special what [Burnett] has accomplished… His heart and creativity is why people come back again and again.”

The Business Champion of the Year award, which celebrates organizations going above and beyond to champion and support businesses in the downtown district, was awarded to Women’s Economic Ventures, which this year opened a brand new facility downtown to support business innovation, collaboration, and training. Other notable initiatives of Women’s Economic Ventures this year included expansion of their programming to be even more inclusive of both English and Spanish speakers, a new mixer series called “Strong Women, Strong Coffee” amongst other efforts to champion female business owners.

The George Gerth Volunteer of the Year award, named after the former City of Santa Barbara Streets, Transportation & Parking Manager, was presented by last year’s winner, Bob Stout, to Douglas Washington in recognition of his more than decade-long volunteership at DSB’s numerous events and programs.

Dacia Romero

The Harriet Miller Youth Leadership Award was presented to Dacia Romero Acosta of Santa Barbara High School by City of Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse. This award recognizes a local high school senior for their leadership and community service. Rowse commended Acosta on her leadership throughout the past year and hopes that she continues to inspire and lead people in our community to follow in her footsteps and give back to their community just like she has done during her high school career.

The presenting sponsor for the Downtown Annual Awards Breakfast is Southern California Edison. Supporting sponsors include: Santa Barbara Independent, Ruth Ann Bowe, Broker Assoc. – Village Properties, Visit Santa Barbara, Voice Magazine, Economic Development Collaborative, American Riviera Bank and the City of Santa Barbara.

Downtown Santa Barbara has served as the champion and advocate for the stakeholders of historic Downtown Santa Barbara, California, with more than 1700 members since 1967. It also manages the Downtown Santa Barbara Business Improvement Districts (BID’s), providing enhanced services to make downtown a vibrant place for visitors, investors, and residents. For more information on DSB’s events programs and a directory of businesses, visit


Written by lauren

Lauren is the Publisher of She enjoys short walks on the beach, interesting facts about bees, and any kind of homemade cookie.

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