Some do community service as a way to constructively use their time, taking on pleasant, perhaps even challenging, projects to help their favorite nonprofit. Mark Palmer has the reputation of diving into those voluntary positions most others avoid. A few years ago he found himself on the board of an organization that was in deep financial crisis, with about a month of solvency before it would have to close its doors. That agency provided first-line medical care to over 17,000 Santa Barbara individuals and families.
The closing of these clinics would have wrecked havoc on both those patients and the entire healthcare system in the county. While other board members made a quick exist, Mark Palmer leaned into this crisis, and led one of the more gutsy turnarounds of a nonprofit that I have witnessed as a private funder. No aspect of the organization's operations, staffing, and policies went untouched. In a period of 180 days, through a lot of tough-love, dedication, vision, and termination, Mark Palmer, as Chair of the Board, and his fellow trustees, led their organization away from sure bankruptcy and to a road of organizational health and growth.
Today, nearly 20,000 individuals and families are once again able to confidently depend on their neighborhood clinics. Government contracts have been renewed, a new clinic has been built, and private financial support has returned. None of these things would have happened without the selfless, quiet, but strong leadership of Mr. Mark Palmer. The Santa Barbara community owes him a huge debt of gratitude.
Ronald V. Gallo, Ed.D., President & CEO
Santa Barbara Foundation