History of Santa Barbara Associates


The idea for a networking group of women in top-level professional or entrepreneurial positions was first hatched in May 1980.  Several women were looking for an opportunity to meet other women in high-level positions from companies throughout the area and have the chance to gather in a social environment.

The founding members included Eleanor Van Cott, Mindy Bingham and Barbara Greene. Over the following months, six more women joined the trio to clarify the concept of an organization that would provide a conduit for informal networking among business and professional women.

The nucleus met frequently over the next 12-18 months before they recruited members. Over time, the concept began to crystallize. The idea was developed to form a non-profit mutual benefit corporation to promote and enhance the association of business and professional women of all ages and backgrounds and to have a place of their own to discuss business or pleasure over lunch, to entertain guests and to establish networks of communication beneficial to all. This culminated in the filing of Articles of Incorporation in 1981.

Finding a place of their own was the initial hurdle—a place to meet for lunch in a downtown location with adequate parking presented a huge dilemma. Negotiating with the University Club at Santa Barbara and Sola streets started with Bob Svoboda, then president of the board of directors, and fellow board members, were extremely helpful, offering the use of the club’s Alumni Room once a week as a luncheon site. The arrangement proved to be highly successful and the University Club amended its bylaws to accept women as full members for the first time in its history. Santa Barbara Associates have been affiliated with the University Club of Santa Barbara at 1332 Santa Barbara Street since 1983.

Membership in the Associates is by invitation only and is limited to 200 members and ten honorary members.