Santa Barbara FoundationSanta Barbara Foundation (SBF) is a fiscal sponsor for over 60 organizations in Santa Barbara county, including Rooted SBC. They provide an umbrella for groups that don’t have 501c3 status yet and may be just starting out with an idea for a charitable project or organization. These groups can use the Foundation’s legal status while they develop their boards, fundraising plans, work plans, and test out their ideas.

Rooted is incredibly fortunate to have the support, mentorship, and encouragement of SBF, including today’s interviewees:

Santa Barbara Foundation President and CEO Jackie Carrera
President and CEO Jackie Carrera
Santa Barbara Foundation Senior Investment Officer Andrea Light
Senior Investment Officer Andrea Light
Santa Barbara Foundation Senior Director of Finance Janet Mocker
Senior Director of Finance Janet Mocker
For this month’s spotlight, we spoke with Jackie, Andrea, and Janet about their connections to Rooted, the Santa Barbara Community, and health and wellness.

How was your relationship with Rooted established?

Jackie: Yvette Birch Giller from the Mosher foundation was the person who encouraged me to reach out to the Rooted leadership team when they were just starting out and didn’t yet have a home. I spoke with Rooted Chair Beth Skidmore early on about how she would develop education materials and programming. It’s a long road to go from the idea stage to building the organizational infrastructure, programs, and educational materials that are meaningful to the community. When I checked in with the Rooted team during 2021 I was amazed at how well they were doing — the website, visuals, materials were wonderful, and their strategic plan was one of the best I’ve seen. I feel that Rooted can serve as a model for other organizations early in their development stage.

Janet: I became aware of Rooted through my colleagues at SBF. Andrea was involved with Rooted and invited me to participate in the “Food For Life: Healthy Basics” pilot class offered in May of 2021. I ended up attending all 4 sessions, along with Andrea and Jackie. Now, I receive Rooted’s monthly newsletter and look forward to enjoying more classes in the future.

Andrea: Not long after the Santa Barbara Foundation became a fiscal sponsor of Rooted, I was asked to join a meeting with three Rooted representatives. I wasn’t familiar with the group, so I did a little research beforehand. I was so excited to see they focused on plant-based nutrition. Since becoming plant-based myself, I had never been in a room with that many plant-based people before! It can be a lonely journey. It was great to help them get acclimated to SBF procedures and general maintenance of their fund with us. Since the start, they’ve been an ambitious and organized group of highly dedicated people focused on a great cause.

What do you enjoy most about your role at SBF and how it helps you connect with the community?

Jackie: What I love about my role at Santa Barbara Foundation is that I get to meet and work with amazing people and organizations that care so much about our community. Each of them are accessing their own gifts, talents, and resources and bringing them to bear on issues they are passionate about — all pointed at helping our community thrive, every day, all day. Yes we are addressing challenges, but we are also orienting toward solving problems and working with people who are passionate about solving those problems. Our county is so rich in people, resources, and landscapes; it’s very rewarding to be in this part of the world, and to get to work across the entire county with its diverse communities.

Janet: As Senior Director of Finance at SBF, I love it that SBF facilitates philanthropy in so many ways, including partnering with small community groups. It is a joy to see our fiscal sponsorships progress through the growth stages and finally form as separate nonprofit organizations and to know that we helped support them along the way.

Andrea: I manage and support the operations of our investment program. With over 60 nonprofit organizations invested with us, their needs and objectives are always in the forefront of our minds. I enjoy getting to know and work with them and doing our best to protect their financial interests.

What would you love to see Rooted focus on in the near future?

Jackie: I have no doubt that Rooted is well positioned to become a stand-alone organization. Santa Barbara Foundation is happy to be a fiscal sponsor for Rooted for as long as it’s needed, but with their strong, healthy budget and organizational structure, they have the ability to build on what they’ve created so far and eventually become an independent 501c3. I imagine they will continue to develop successful partnerships, programs, and materials that will help them reach more people. That’s the end game I hope they achieve. Their team is able to share important health information that is largely unknown to our communities, and share it in an approachable way. Once you work with Rooted you realize that plant-based eating is not so intimidating, and that it’s actually enjoyable as well as healthier.

Rooted Santa Barbara stands out as a young organization because they have strong, thoughtful leadership, clarity of vision, and expertise to accomplish their goals. They are also open to bringing outside ideas, resources, and people to the table to constantly improve and make their programming relevant to the community. There’s just something special about the people who run Rooted Santa Barbara; they are warm, open, and gracious. I was drawn to follow what happened with Rooted from the very beginning, as it all came together.

There are a lot of organizations that have good ideas but can’t seem to get off the ground. I think the authenticity of Rooted’s leadership and the clarity of their vision is in large part why Rooted has been so successful to date. Combined with that, they have been strategic in building a strong foundation with incremental growth, which gives them a strong start.

We are still in the midst of a pandemic, and some of our most vulnerable populations are finding themselves more concerned about health, while facing major food security problems. In this climate, Rooted was able to elevate the issue of health education and provide accessible and easy-to-understand materials to help folks realize that you can eat in a way that is healthy without it being expensive or intimidating, and actually makes it positive and uplifting. Rooted is filling a much needed niche in that regard for our community.

Janet: I would like to see Rooted become well established – and popular! – as the lead promoter and educator for plant-based diets in the Santa Barbara community. It’s great that Rooted is partnering with the national organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine as well as with local health care professionals from Sansum Diabetes, the Breast Cancer Resource Center, and others.

Andrea: I’ve always hoped that Rooted would become the go-to organization for plant-based nutrition in our community. It’s a cause that is often marginalized, but it’s a message that needs to be heard for so many reasons. And I’m seeing that happen right now. Rooted is really making a name for themselves, doing some amazing work and creating collaborations, both locally and nationally.

What is your relationship with health and wellness?

Jackie: When I was raising my kids, I needed to make meals that the whole family would eat and I didn’t have much plant-based experience under my belt, so we ate a pretty typical American diet. But when my kids were grown and in college, I started getting interested in the idea of plant-based eating again, for health and disease prevention. Then along came Rooted, and in particular a virtual class taught by Rooted’s Vice Chair, Emma Malina. I watched the class with my daughter and it opened up a whole new world. I realized that eating plant-based doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing every day, and it can also be very easy. Emma showed us how to make a really simple dish with canned beans, corn and salsa. I haven’t eaten meat or dairy since that class! I couldn’t be more grateful that Rooted came around.

Janet: For me, eating plant-based is all about maintaining quality of life and longevity – looking good, feeling good, and aging gracefully.

Andrea: Even as a person in relatively good health, I find that the better I eat, the better I feel. So, from a health perspective, I am motivated to eat well in order to have more energy and ability to focus,and to stay healthy as I age. I’ve learned a ton through Rooted’s online classes. Education is crucial to understanding how to optimize your health.

What is your favorite plant-based recipe or meal?

Jackie: I have to credit Emma for that first bean recipe, because it will go down in history as the recipe that got me started plant-based eating. I’ve expanded my recipe repertoire since then, but that one will always hold a special place for me, it has sentimental value!

Janet: My go-to is spaghetti with carrots and cauliflower (instead of ground beef) and a green salad.

Andrea: It changes on a regular basis. But lately I’ve been making celery leaf pesto which uses nutritional yeast and walnuts. It has an amazing flavor. I’ve also been experimenting with making spicy cashew crema that I put on sweet potato and avocado tacos.

Supporting Our Work - We’re currently an all-volunteer organization and we see incredible room and need to grow over the coming year. We understand that this time has enormous challenges for everyone, so while we’ll be seeking support to help roll our vision forward, we’re also thinking creatively to keep our costs low to efficiently build resources and deliver programming at low to no cost to our community. If you’d like to support our work, we hope you’ll consider making a donation to one of our giving programs through our community partner, the Santa Barbara Foundation!