Staff Report


The Santa Ynez Valley Foundation recently celebrated the 2019/20 Man and Woman of the Year Chris Nielsen and Pam Gnekow, along with the Volunteers of the Year. 

“It was such a joy for us to finally be able to meet in person to celebrate the incredible contributions these individuals have made to improve the lives of our fellow citizens,” said Anne Christensen, executive director of the SYV Foundation. “Your presence helped them feel honored and leant to a wonderful, festive evening.” 

Other foundation honorees included Erik Gregersen (Lifetime Achievement Award), Olivia Berman and Jasmine Enciso (Youth in Service Award), Nathan Giacento (Volunteer of the Year for Youth), Vickie Gill (Volunteer of the Year for Education), and Thom Garrett (Volunteer of the Year for Seniors). 

The Santa Ynez Valley Foundation improves the lives of people in the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos by investing in programs that feed the poor, promote health, nurture seniors, challenge our youth and inspire the community to make a difference. With the help of caring supporters, the foundation also builds permanent funds to enhance the quality of life now and for the future.

Founded in 1991 by Stuart C. Gildred, the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation, a community foundation, has continuously grown through the years to become an integral part of the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos. It awards grants to nonprofit organizations that deliver programs and services to residents in one of five focus areas: health and human services, senior programs, youth, education and cultural programs. Funds from the foundation’s endowment, and support from donations provide funding for these annual grants. Learn more at

Contact the Valley Foundation at 540 Alisal Rd., Suite #10 Solvang, CA 93463; call 805-688-2991 or email