Education Matters (Marybeth Carty)


The following is a program of the Santa
Barbara County Education Office. To learn more visit sbceo.org. Images of students and teachers. No audio. HOST: Hello. I’m Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara
County Superintendent of Schools, and I am so delighted to welcome and introduce
our guest today, Marybeth Carty, who’s the Executive Director for the Natalie
Orfalea Foundation. Marybeth, thank you so much for joining us today. GUEST: Thank you for
inviting me, Susan. HOST: I’m so excited to have you right here across the table and to
have you talk about some of the initiatives for the Natalie Orfalea
Foundation, but more than that, I mean beyond that, you serve in so many
different capacities for so many different organizations. I can’t wait to
talk about those two and behind the curtain in terms of who Marybeth Carty
is, that’s where we really like to begin and talk about you, where you were born
and brought up, your childhood, so let’s start there. Where were you born? GUEST: Those many, many years ago? (HOST laughs). Actually, I’m an immigrant from the East Coast.
No, I was born and raised in New Jersey and I came here with the idea
that I was going to school. My first choice was Berkeley because I love the
idea of political science, and I took a little visit to the west coast,
and went through, looked at Berkeley looked at UC Santa Cruz, and thought that
would be the one and didn’t even look at UCSB. But when I came back a year
later that is indeed where I ended up in the developmental psych program. I had
previously been through an early childhood education program at my junior
college on the East Coast and I was teaching and had already taught in two
different preschools and really loved the field.
I just loved what early childhood education meant to students. How they
were able to just really be their best selves and and moved through a variety
of experiences, both sensory and cognitive, and I thought, oh that would be
it. That’s what I want to do, and I want to have my own preschool. When I got to Carpinteria, I never left. I stayed in Carpinteria, went to
UCSB, eventually did teach preschool but it’s really funny how life throws curves. Met my husband, we got married
after I left UCSB, we started our family, and my children ended up at the Lou Grant
Parent-Child Workshop. So I fell right into service there and became the
president of the board which, as you know, was a very active board at the time. We were
being threatened with closure because there was a very low census and some
building problems, and my father-in-law, Bill Carty, helped us navigate the Santa
Barbara City College system and we were able to acquire the property. And then my
husband, who is a contractor, and his brother, together helped renovate the
parent-child workshop and to this day it’s a really beautiful institution for
children and parents learning together. And there’s a waiting, list lo and behold. HOST: Lo and behold. What a trajectory there, and so many dots connected. You know, in just that story alone around your ECE early childhood education focus, and then your service to a school, and then serving on a board,
and the whole family coming together to work on this with you, I feel like that
is a theme for Marybeth Carty in almost everything that you do, truly. GUEST: I think it might be. HOST: It might be a theme. I want to go back, roll back to New Jersey
for just a moment, then we’ll move forward to Carpinteria. But you
went to elementary, junior high, high school there, and Community College as
well? Can you shout out some of the names of your schools? GUEST: Toms River High School North, home of the Mariners. HOST: I love it. GUEST: There were about 3,000 students in that school. On the East Coast there’s a huge infrastructure in public education
because you spend a lot of time indoors, so there was a giant auditorium,
a multimedia center, there was just a really huge school with also an outdoor
area, but weather prohibiting, people would run outdoors when they could. But
it was a really good high school and a good series of elementary and
intermediate schools, but I was just really anxious to leave the area.
Yeah, I thought the West Coast was where it’s at., HOST: So you thought you’d go to
Berkeley, maybe Santa Cruz, and then UCSB is where you actually went to school. But
did you reside the whole time you’re a student at UCSB in Carpinteria? GUEST: I did. I had a couple of friends and we drove together and that worked out really
well. I think that keeping things kind of small and local in Carpinteria, living in
my little beach town, and I just dug my heels into that place and grew, even when
the town didn’t grow so much because we’ve really kept it small and
manageable and quaint, all the things you want in a small coastal community.
It’s a wonderful place to grow up and I’m really happy to say that my
daughter and son-in-law are back in Carpinteria from Orange County
where he’s from, and they’re raising their two little ones, so it’s
been a full circle. HOST: And so when you lived in Carpinteria, you’ve lived there all
this time now, and were at the school where you were board member, I mean you
you really had many different turns, corners, all around education, all around
serving the community, many, many boards that you’ve served on, and I want to get
to where you are today with the Natalie Orfalea Foundation, but there are some
significant steps along the way. So can you trace for us some of those big
stepping stones along the way? GUEST: Certainly. Well, I had worked in the Carpinteria
Unified School District for about 10 years as a contractor and I came in to
develop grant-funded education programs, the earliest of which was a mentor
program which was a governor’s initiative back in the early 90s, and
from there I did a service learning program for both Carpinteria, Santa
Barbara, and Goleta Unified districts and then I also did something called LEAF —
learning, education, and activity … linking
education, activity and food, linking education, activity, and food. It was
really the forebear of a lot of the programs that we have now, where there’s
outdoor classrooms, community gardens, and then having students work in in the
garden and then the products that they would reap and sow they would eat in
the salad bar at the school cafeterias and got rid of a lot of the soft drinks
and things that were deterrents. HOST: The LEAF program actually precedes what you hear today, is the big farm-to-table movement, which is really
important, but it sounds like that was a early initiative and early start. GUEST: It was exciting. We had a wonderful team, everybody was on board. We had the full cooperation of the school board
who changed policies and I’m really proud of that program and the gardens
prevail. HOST: They do. GUEST: The Natalie Orfalea Foundation, incidentally, had a school
food initiative and this was years after, but they came back to Carpinteria and
did some really important work, especially at the high school, in getting
kids to both observe where their food comes from and the nutrient
components involved. And then the commercial kitchen was built, kids were
doing, you know they were working in a professional kitchen, and Jamie Oliver
came and did a film part of his series. He focused on Carpinteria High so there’s still residual effects, but all in all, with our farmers market culture and the
farm-to-table movement, I think kids are far more aware of what they’re eating
and that’s important. HOST: Absolutely. So your impact early on with
the LEAF program, Natalie Orfalea, now it’s been a few years
back with the school food movement around Santa Barbara County, it really
has made a significant impact truly. So I’d like to stop first at Venoco
before going to Natalie Orfalea and the purpose of stopping at Venoco is to
talk about the the support that Venoco and your leadership there had in
education. I want … I have to mention the Crystal Apple Awards that
Venoco sponsored in that you really promoted. Say a bit about that,
because it’s such an incredible, unique award in Santa Barbara County. GUEST: Well, it really was that. Tim Marquez, who was the founder of Venoco and a real
entrepreneur, had his roots in public education. Both parents were teachers and
he and Bill Cirone and, I believe, Frank Schipper, had a conversation and they
talked about ways to honor and elevate the teaching position but also to allow
teachers to really nominate their colleagues and have it be a collegial
acknowledgement of just talent and dedication, so they came up with the
Crystal Apple Award and it was in effect and Venoco presented it for fifteen years I
believe, until the dissolution of the company. The very last Crystal
Apple Award was given just on the heels of the company finally evaporating, and I
think that I’m really proud of that because we had so many fabulous
educators marching across that stage and being acknowledged both North and South
County. And it wasn’t just teachers, it was administrators, it was support
staff, it was classified. And you know on many of the awardees I knew
personally so that was especially exciting for me. HOST: You give a lot of
credit to others, but you really had a lot to do with the giving in terms of
the philanthropy at Venoco, the focus on education, and every year when
we have the Education Celebration and we still give a Crystal Apple — it’s now in a
different organization’s name in terms of their sponsorship — but I think about
you and really that focus on education that you’ve had from the very beginning.
ECE to Crystal Apple and even the Heart of Education Award that you’re a big
part of in Santa Barbara County, that we provide in the name of our former County
Superintendent Bill Cirone. So let’s talk about now — how did you go from
Venoco work to the Natalie Orfalea Foundation.? GUEST: Well, it’s interesting. Opportunities just presented themselves, as I
had said earlier. The fact that I’ve worked at Venoco for 15 years was
really very serendipitous. Some of those programs I mentioned earlier were
involving the community in different ways and I had been working with
business and industry for partnerships for the schools and that’s how I got to
know some of the people at Venoco. They in turn offered me a position and they
created it and so I was recruited for a job that I would have never applied for and actually didn’t exist until I took it on. So it was community
relations and it involved really an interface with schools and nonprofits of
which we are blessed to have many, many, many. So in that role at Venoco I was
able to work really successfully and quite productively with hundreds of
nonprofits in Santa Barbara County as well as Ventura County and other areas
in which the company operated, so from there when we were ready to close
up shop, I was approached by someone who had this wonderful foundation, but they
didn’t tell me who it was. Just that it was local and in my mind at that point
in my life I thought the next thing I do is going to be meaningful. It’s going to
be local, I’m going have an opportunity to really give back and it’s going to
have flexibility, and then this was presented to me and I ended up taking
the position a little under a year and a half ago. So this was a new thing
for the Natalie Orfalea Foundation, who had been formed a couple years prior but
they had never had a formalized process or an executive director. HOST: So you’re the very first executive director. GUEST: Yes. HOST: Congratulations and a perfect fit
again. The Venoco position, as you said, was sort of made for you. Not sort of, was
made for you, and this one I know enough about it to know that they were really waiting
to seek that perfect fit and they found you. So again, that fit for sure.
Can you say a little bit about Natalie Orfalea for the viewers who may not
know her yet? So Natalie Orfalea, and what the
vision is for the foundation? GUEST: Certainly you may know of the Orfalea Foundation, and that was a foundation that did very deep, meaningful initiative-based work in this area, including the aware and prepare disaster preparation
program which was 10 years deep and was really used as the platform for which
responders were able to to deal with the tragedies of the debris flow and the
Thomas fire. We still do some work in that area as well. Natalie was the
visionary and she designed most of the the infrastructure of that program, but
she had a wonderful team working with her as well. The Natalie Orfalea Foundation is representative of Natalie as that
visionary thinker. She’s very spiritual, she’s very inclusive, she really wants
the greater good for all, and she is a lifelong learner. Really inquisitive,
loves to pull things apart, asks really good questions, and then asks them again.
So in that respect, we are able to work with incredible partners and co-create
and that’s of interest to Natalie. Natalie’s partner, Lou Buglioli, is also
a co-founder and very much part of the vision of the foundation and together
they identified areas of priority focus, one of which was global health, and so
we’re working in Liberia with Last Mile Health. We were part of the Global Health
Corps which was Barbara Bush’s foundation. We’re still in that arena but we’re doing more prominent work locally.
So right now one of the big things that we’re doing is working with Sansum to
develop a palliative care program, because end-of-life issues — that’s
something that our foundation is looking at carefully, as I am as well. I think a lot of baby boomers are thinking about that
and they’re not afraid to really look at what that bookend should be like for
people. And so the palliative care program at Cottage — I’m sorry, at
Sansum — they just hired the palliative care physician who’s coming from
Torrance. She’ll start October 1 and then they’ll build a team and we’re
working with them to help include different modalities that go beyond just
the medical and physical, but more into the psychosocial and spiritual realms, so
that the whole patient is really addressed in that kind of very, very
gradual off-ramp before you get to hospice care where life limiting
ailments have been identified. And it’s a really cost efficient and holistic way
to treat patients and we’re excited to be doing that work. So that’s fun
and that involves work with Hospice of Santa Barbara. We’re doing Shared
Crossings with William Peters and a host of other partners that are really, you
know, digging into this work and coming up with some really innovative ways to
address the ultimate decisions people have to make and what’s best for
individuals and their families. We are also very, very excited about the
work that the Nature Conservancy is bringing to the newly named Jack and
Laura Dangermond Preserve, which was alternately known as the Cojo Jalama
Ranch or the Bixby Ranch. It was an old family that had a cattle ranching
operation they ended up selling to a hedge fund who were attempting to
develop and that wasn’t working out very well so in came the Dangermonds. And in
short, through the Nature Conservancy stewardship, they were able to purchase
the land and then give it to the Nature Conservancy, to not only preserve and
conserve, but also to invite a scientific inquiry into one of the last
coastal wilderness areas. HOST: Exciting! GUEST: It is exquisitely beautiful. 24,000 acres and eight of which are coastal, so the terrain and the coast meet. So you can
imagine those ecosystems and over 59 identified species, I think 14 or 15
already endangered, so there’s going to be a lot of really interesting work
happening. Our role as the foundation will be to help facilitate an
environmental education program that will really serve our students in Lompoc,
the gateway, and those students are primarily underserved and having access
to a place like this will be, I think, really life-changing, in terms of
learning about the great outdoors and also creating a pipeline of
environmental leadership. So we’re excited and we’re working on that as
well. HOST: Wow, that is really exciting. I’m sure there are so many other aspects
that we could talk about, for sure, but really appreciate you sharing with us,
first a little bit about the Orfalea Foundation, the previous foundation, and
then moving into the Natalie Orfalea Foundation. I wasn’t aware of the aware
and prepare involvement — I know about aware and prepare but hadn’t
connected it with the Orfalea foundation and Natalie herself, so I
really appreciate that it’s made such an impact on the community. GUEST: Absolutely. HOST: And then the other initiatives, both global but really local, and that impact our
neighbors, ourselves, our families, in terms of the work with Sansum and then
our coastline, right up the coast here, and going to impact not only students in
Lompoc, but boy, will there be a lot of discoveries through that in terms of our
ecosystem, coastline, our history, there’s so much there. How exciting and super
creative and a powerhouse like Natalie Orfalea behind it, and you together with Natalie’s partner as well, I mean, exciting things are happening with the
foundation and you as the first executive director. Pretty, pretty neat.
I’d love to talk about your role as a county board member of the County Board of
Education. We are so honored to have you as one of
our seven board members. How did that come about? GUEST: Well, I’m representing
Carpinteria, my community, as I mentioned earlier. I have been … my volunteer work
and my heart and a lot of the work that I’ve done throughout my career, has
really been mired in educational opportunity for students. I think as Bill Cirone would always say, it’s the greatest democratic institution we have,
and I would also agree with Nelson Mandela who says education is the most
powerful weapon we can use to change the world. So I was working in my children’s
schools. I became a member of the Carpinteria Education Foundation. I was on
that board for many years. I helped with the Thrive initiative and was on their
Leadership Committee. And I’m on the board of the Carpinteria Children’s Project, formerly the site of Main Elementary School,
which had to close due to declining enrollment, and rose like a phoenix and
is this incredible hub for Family Services and truly early childhood
education. So all of those things put me in several different seats, where I was
really able to to kind of help forward the mission of educating our kids. And
then when the board position arose, I was very happy to represent my community and
I feel really honored to do so. What a great group. HOST: It is a great group, we’re
fortunate to have you. Thank you for serving. GUEST: We’re quite fortunate to have you, Susan, makes it that much better. HOST: Thank you. GUEST: Icing on the cake. HOST: That’s very nice of you to say. And just a few moments ago you talked about Hospice, and I know that Hospice, the organization, is an organization that you definitely
believe in. You’ve needed their support and you’re actually working with them
now with the foundation, but they honored you so appropriately, I think, a year ago
now or maybe less than a year ago now, as a Hero of Hospice. So first,
congratulations for the recognition. GUEST: Thank you. HOST: And secondly, can you say a bit about your role with Hospice and even the work that they do. GUEST: Sure. So Hospice, the work that I was doing with Hospice, was actually independent of my work with the foundation and then they converged in a really
beautiful way. I had worked with Charles Caldwell, their director of strategic
advancement, and we love to talk and get things kind of moving and imagining. We
have delusions of grandeur all the time over coffee, but we really sat down and
talked about my community and how remote it is in some respects and how
underserved it is in others. And we had had several occasions where Hospice had
come into the classrooms, into the schools, and helped address some very
tragic deaths of primarily children and some teen suicides. So they would come
and show up and serve the community but they weren’t there on a regular basis
and we thought what about creating an outpost in Carpinteria. Having dedicated
staff, having a place for people to go and really working diligently on
building a different kind of inroad, especially to our Latino community. So
we affected that, we call it Compassionate Care of Carpinteria. It
took over a year of brainstorming with tremendous, great ideas from a swath of
community members. We have a steering committee and we’re really proud to say
that it is up and moving. It’s serving people in ways that were unimagined before. Patient Care Services was a program Hospice had offered. A lot of people
don’t even know about it and moreover it’s free of charge,
it’s bilingual, bicultural and it’s customized so if someone has a family
member who is really in a life-threatening, life-limiting, in the
midst of that illness, they will help navigate that with the family, based on
what those family or that individual patient’s needs are. So it looks different for everyone. It may be as simple as arranging for a
dog walking or grocery shopping, or someone to read to a patient. But it can
be far, far more complicated and important in that it could provide
translation services and help a patient and their family understand the
intricacies of the healthcare system. So this is available and it’s now being
utilized and it’s a wonderful thing. In addition to the usual — what we think of
as hospice programs — which are grieving and bereavement counseling and support,
all that is now happening in Carpinteria. We’re really proud of that. HOST: Wow,
and truly, you deserve that Hero of Hospice award. With that, you really
had, you said an idea of grandeur, you have others but this one really came to
fruition and is serving the community members of Carpinteria. That’s
incredible, Marybeth. I want to turn now to you as a professional, a mother,
grandmother, wife, you balance so many different things. Balance is a word that
I don’t want to use, I just don’t to over- use, because I think balance is tough to
have every day but we have it sometimes in a week, we might have it in two weeks,
and all but you seem to handle, I’ll put it that way, the professional life being
a mother, being a grandmother, wife, and daughter, and just really present for so
many people. How do you do it? What is your secret, or some of the secrets? GUEST: You know I think like you Susan, like so many women I know, we got this memo that we
needed to multitask all the time and keep our lives in checks and balances,
and a lot of that precluded this notion of just being present and mindful, and
that is something that I think is a practice. You actually have to practice,
you have to model it, so that our little girls, our little granddaughters, can see
people that aren’t running around with their hair on fire, getting from one
meeting or appointment to the next, packing as much as they can in a day. I
do have a crazy schedule but it’s by design and I feel like I have lots of
time for self care and with some really dear friends I have a
great exercise practice. It’s very, very early in the morning, but it’s wonderful.
Sets the tone for every day and it gives me an opportunity to start the day off
with exertion and mindfulness. I really feel like that gives me a lot of energy. And my mother was an amazing Energizer Bunny and she just set the bar high
for my sisters and I. We really stand on the shoulders of my mom and
her tremendous heart and capacity for giving. I think that’s something we all
understood and got from a very early age and my sister Jerry, my sister
Angel — Angela that’s her professional name — I always call her Angel, and even
my sister Joanne, my younger sister, we all we look for ways to help make things
better. That’s our family motto. Make it better.
HOST: Well, you clearly took after your mother and you really are an example for so
many individuals, myself included. I’ve called you several times and sought
advice from you and you’ve give always given the right advice, for sure. But what
I’m hearing you say is it takes discipline and practice and really being
mindful of being present in all of those areas. You do each of those areas
so well, and we are so fortunate to have your leadership in our community and
Carpinteria in its community. Your impact is truly enormous, Marybeth. I just want
to end the program by saying thank you, not only for being here on the program
with us today, but for your influence and impact countywide. Thank you. GUEST: Thank you, Susan, it’s really nice of you. HOST: I’m Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools. Thank you so much for joining us today for this edition of Education Matters. No audio, credits rolling.

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