After Eight Years of Leadership, The Fund for Santa Barbara’s Executive Director Retires

By Giving List Staff   |   June 30, 2023

After leading the Fund for Santa Barbara for more than eight years, Executive Director Dr. Marcos Vargas plans to retire by the end of the year to spend more time with family and pursue new endeavors. 

“It’s with tremendous gratitude that I complete my tenure as The FUND’s Executive Director. Together, as The FUND’s board of directors, staff, Grant Making Committee, grantees, and hundreds of volunteers and generous donors, we have made a lasting impact toward advancing social justice throughout our region.”, says Vargas. 

Vargas joined The FUND in June of 2015 and has led the community foundation with heart and conviction that will surely mark the organization, and regional philanthropy for years to come. Under his tenure, The FUND underwent a comprehensive strategic plan that saw the organization affirm its movement building focus through five program strategies: grant making, capacity building, nurturing coalitions, influencing philanthropy, and developing movement leadership.

Under Vargas, the FUND has successfully fostered collaborations and organized philanthropic partnerships for progressive social change in Santa Barbara County, holding funders’ briefings around criminal justice reform, climate justice, and immigrants rights, among other issues. Most notably, The FUND, in partnership with UCSB’s Blum Center and the USC Equity Research Institute, led in the establishment of the Central Coast Regional Equity Initiative, an ongoing initiative that aims to advance equity throughout the region. 

Despite facing many challenges over the last eight years— regional climate related disasters, political and social unrest, and a global pandemic, Vargas leaves The FUND strengthened by his tenure. The community foundation has grown to nine full time staff, expanded to seven distinct grant programs, and through capacity building initiatives and offerings, has remained responsive to the needs of hundreds of change-making organizations and individuals. Since Vagas joined The FUND in 2015, nearly 4.5 million dollars have been distributed in grants working to build a more just and equitable Santa Barbara County. 

“Under Marcos’ leadership, The FUND’s impact and influence has grown tremendously, as evidenced by its partnerships with the County of Santa Barbara, major educational institutions, and regional funders,” says Eric Cárdenas, President of the FUND’s Board of Directors. “Marcos leaves us on solid ground and with a bright future as we forge ahead in the world of impact-based philanthropy.”

Vargas will remain with The FUND during the search for a new executive director and will help facilitate the transition to new leadership. Visit to learn more about the Executive Director job description. 

Founded in 1980, The Fund for Santa Barbara advances progressive change by strengthening movements for Economic, Environmental, Political, Racial, and Social Justice. 


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Advancing progressive changes by strengthening movements for Economic, Environmental, Political, Racial, and Social Justice.

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