Volunteer of the Month: Laurie Leighty takes over as President of Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table

Laurie Leighty will be President of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table - an all-volunteer organization - for the next two years.

Laurie Leighty will be President of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table – an all-volunteer organization – for the next two years.

She?s an empathetic friend, compassionate mentor, extraordinary role model and upbeat community builder ?

Solidly rooted in family; she?s enjoyed a distinguished, 30-plus year (and counting) business career shaping organizations strong within the financial services sector ?

And now she’s stepping up as president of the tradition-laden Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table (SBART). To recognize this important commitment to local athletics, Laurie Leighty is our newest?Sports Volunteer of the Month.

“Every committee under her direction has excelled because of her interpersonal and organizational skills. We are so fortunate to have her as our president,” shares Dave Pintard, longtime SBART board director.

In her new role, Leighty blends a lifelong love of sports with keen business acumen and warm personal attributes — and continues the wonderful sports organizational experience she enjoyed as an active, participating parent of three athletically talented kids.


Pacific Western Bank in Santa Barbara

This monthly series is made possible by Pacific Western Bank

Volunteers often go under-recognized even though they are extremely important to the athletic community. So important that many of the sporting events and organizations key to our lives wouldn’t be possible without those who donate their time to assist others.

Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank have joined forces to change that. This monthly spotlight series is our way of thanking those that selflessly give themselves for the benefit of many.

To all volunteers making a difference, we salute you.

And she is just hitting her SBART stride at its signature Monday Press Luncheons that launched after Labor Day with summer over, schools in session and fall sports seasons in full swing.

Held at Harry?s Plaza Cafe, the weekly lunch forum provides coaches with two-to-three minute podium slots to present season updates and spotlight athletes they?ve bought along with them.

Laurie and past president Rich Hanna at Harry's Plaza Cafe to host dozens of local student-athletes at one of the weekly press luncheons. (Randy Weiss Photo)

Laurie and past president Rich Hanna at Harry’s Plaza Cafe to host dozens of local student-athletes at one of the weekly press luncheons. (Randy Weiss Photo)

An all star team of sports reporters catch it all then blast it out on their websites ? in their publications ? and across their news broadcasts — all contributing to one very unique and cohesive local sports community.

There are Athletes of the Week awards for both boys and girls.

Monthly awards, too ?

Such as Scholar Athlete of the Month (each high school names one scholar-athlete over the school year); Sports Person of Month (given to an unsuspecting volunteer); Special Olympics Award (generously provided and graciously presented by Aaron Brown who serves with both SBART and Special Olympics, in addition to being a basketball coach for these wonderful, differently-abled, high spirited players) and The Phil Womble Award (named for the UCSB sports icon and presented to a HS junior who demonstrates great character, ethics, sportsmanship and leadership skills that will propel him/her in their senior year).

Leighty — a Gaucho grad herself (with honors and a nice tan), initially chased early dreams of being the first female trainer for a pro football franchise before fate and opportunity propelled her in new directions.

She quickly rattles off exciting developments for other SBART programs: Fall Classic (an October 30th 6PM reception featuring USA Olympic volleyball stars, Todd Rogers and Lindsey Berg); Annual Women in Sports Luncheon (surprise awesome speaker already secured for February); March Madness (did she just say, ?Howland??) and the prestigious Hall of Fame Banquet in May, when yearly & lifetime achievement awards are presented.

These easy updates all delivered via courtesy of Leighty?s trademark always-smile ?

She claims herself fortunate to work with such an incredible board of directors — comprised of a ?Who?s Who? of selfless, uber-busy community leaders from the business, academic and sports fields who make good things happen for student athletes at the area?s high schools and colleges.

The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table is a 501(c) 3 non-profit, charitable organization that was formed over 40 years ago and still shines brightly as an inspirational source of local pride for its unrelenting positive impact on kids.

?We are an all-volunteer organization with a ?virtual office?, a website and a post office box,? states Rich Hanna, immediate past president and a senior recreation supervisor for the City of Santa Barbara.

Leighty?s SBART indoctrination was eight years ago with the Women in Sports Luncheon when good friend and fellow banker, Catharine Manset recruited her, even though Leighty was deeply immersed in helping to launch American Riviera Bank.

She?s been here ever since as senior vice president of operations, marketing and human resources.

Leighty Family Affair -- Blair, Andrew, Ariel, Laurie holding grandson Landon, Sierra & Rob

Leighty Family Affair — Blaire, Andrew, Ariel, Laurie holding grandson Landon, Sierra & Rob

?I was a child of Title IX,? Leighty recalls of her swimming and gymnastics youth. ?So I know first-hand that there is nothing better than getting 500 young female athletes together and listening to a motivating speaker.?

Asked in 2009 to join the board, Leighty was almost immediately sought to consider lining up for the presidency.

She agreed to everything — thinking by then she?d be looking for a new challenge with her kids grown and gone and she being all settled into her financial services career.

Before taking SBART?s helm, she served as president-elect these two last years, working closely with Hanna and filling in, where needed.

?Laurie, a longtime friend, coach and mentor, is an exceptional role model for young women seeking to achieve a life balance inclusive of career, family, health and volunteerism,? says Manset, now senior vice president & regional market manager of Pacific Western Bank (this award?s sponsor) and longtime SBART board director.

?I have no doubt that she will apply her principles of efficiency and excellence to her new position as President of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table,? Manset adds.

Further ?

?I feel so privileged to have my presidency bookended by two local, powerful and dedicated women (Manset and Leighty) who share the vision for supporting local high school and collegiate athletes and athletics,? Hanna offers.

?Laurie will bring all of her expertise both on the financial management of SBART but also of a mother of several previous local athletes. That combination makes her the perfect fit to lead SBART for the next two years,? he continued.

Other community stars chime in ?

?Laurie is a fantastic business leader with true 24/7 energy,? shares Jeff DeVine, American Riviera Bank President & CEO (and local runner). ?She?s an asset to the Bank, and we?re excited to see what she can accomplish leading this organization. All of us at the Bank know she will do great things for the SBART.?

?Laurie Leighty is a rock star!? beams decorated triathlete Joe Howell, another longtime board director.

?From the moment she joined the board, it was clear she was both committed to its mission and willing to work hard and assume responsibilities. As our new president, she has all the skills needed – personal experience as a competitive athlete, being mom to three talented high school athletes, financial and business acumen as a well-respected local banker and a demonstrated ability to dig in and get things done.?

Meanwhile, on the home front ?

Laurie and Rob have been married for 29 years and have three children: Andrew, Sierra and Blaire. Andrew?s wife, Ariel and their 15-month old son, Landon, also reside at the Leighty home as she and Andrew finish college.

Here?s an ?insider?s perspective??

?My mom has always been there for us since Day One and it was rare if she didn?t make a game despite juggling work and three active kids? sports schedules,? Sierra shares. ?She is my role model and all my friends love her like their second mom. She?s just awesome and the glue that bonds our family together. We are all so very proud of her!?

Safe to say, these are exceptionally busy times for her with work, family and community.

But our newest Sports Figure of the Month Honoree, Laurie Leighty, really wouldn?t want it any other way ?