Santa Barbara Botanical Garden Welcomes Three New Board Members In 2021
SANTA BARBARA, CA – Three new members joined the board of directors of the Botanical Garden of Santa Barbara. The Garden welcomes George Leis, Sharon Bradford and Helene Schneider. The Board of Directors supports the garden’s mission to conserve California’s native plants and habitats for the health and well-being of people and the planet. Steve Windhager, General Manager of the Garden. “Each individual advances our mission through unique perspectives, extensive expertise and a dedication to our increasingly urgent conservation work.” George Leis is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Montecito Bank & Trust, the oldest and largest local community bank in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. George was previously the Managing Director of MUFG Union Bank, NA. He was appointed National Sales Director for The Private Bank after becoming Regional President of the Central Coast Region of Union Bank with the acquisition of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust (SBB & T) in December 2012. Previously, Leis was President and CEO of Pacific Capital Bancorp (PCBC), a $ 7 billion community banking holding company that included SBB & T.
After joining SBB & T in March 2006, Leis was executive vice president of two divisions, Wealth Management and Information Technology, and was the chief information officer. He was responsible for 500 staff and a budget of $ 78 million. A graduate of California State University, Northridge (CSUN), he is a Certified Financial Advisor and Trustee.
Leis’ community involvement is exemplified by his service to universities and charities in Southern California and beyond, most notably as chairman of the board of directors of the Santa Barbara Zoo and the National Disaster Search Dog. Foundation, and as a board member of the Channel Islands YMCA, CSU Channel Islands Foundation, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, and more.
Her successful career and passionate involvement in community-driven organizations has earned Leis several awards. Distinguished alumnus of Cal State Northridge, Leis is a former board member and past chair of the CSUN Foundation board committee. He has served on many other CSUN boards, including the College of Business and Economics Advisory Board and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Ambassadors.
Sharon Bradford is passionate about her community and has had the opportunity to serve on numerous boards of directors in her beloved town of Santa Barbara.
Some of them include the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Lobero Theater, Direct Relief International, Casa del Herrero, and Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. Bradford and his brothers are the owners of San Marcos Growers; a wholesale nursery started by their family in 1980 that cultivates many native and drought tolerant plants adapted to California’s Mediterranean climate.
Bradford graduated from UCSB with a degree in art history, and after living in the Bay Area for thirty years, Sharon and her husband David are delighted to be “at home”.
Helene Schneider is Director of Regional Development for California State University, Channel Islands, expanding awareness and support for CSUCI in Santa Barbara County, and as regional coordinator for the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, focusing on reducing homelessness in communities across California and Arizona. Schneider also served over 17 years in city government, as mayor, member of city council, and housing authority commissioner for the city of Santa Barbara, California.
Schneider is currently a volunteer on the nonprofit boards of Sister Cities International and the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative. She received her BA from Skidmore College and her professional designation in Human Resources Management from UCLA Extension.
The garden serves the public more than just a place, but as a model of sustainability and an engine for the conservation of native habitats in the region. Our mission has become increasingly urgent as more and more native plant species are threatened with extinction, threatening the foundation of all life on the planet. Founded in 1926, the garden is the first botanical garden focused exclusively on native plants in California and currently spans 78 acres with five miles of walking trails, a herbarium, a seed bank, research labs, a library and a nursery. The Garden welcomes the public every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and offers a time reserved for members from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. For more information on the Garden, visit sbbg.org.