Look Who's Getting It Done Award

Board of Supervisors

In 2007, I started the annual Look Who's Getting It Done award. The award is given every January to someone in District 5 who has been instrumental in accomplishing something which benefits our community. The winner will be featured in my January County Connection article in the Novato Advance and on this page.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Look Who's Getting it Done award, please contact my aide Tanya Albert.

Index

2016

2016 Look Who's Getting it Done Winner – Hank Barner

This past year Novato lost a great community advocate and volunteer, Hank Barner. He is the posthumous selection for my 2016 Look Who’s Getting It Done Award.

I met Hank when I started my first term as your County Supervisor. He was the District 5 appointee on the Marin County Planning Commission, a position he studiously and thoughtfully held for eight years. While our relationship started off on a rough note, we soon became great friends and he proved to be a tremendous repository of information and knowledge on both Novato and County issues.

Hank lived in Novato’s unincorporated area of Black Point and was very active in the neighborhood, serving for 30 years as President of the Black Point Improvement Club. His vast knowledge on County policies and codes, land-use processes, and environmental issues made him a force to be reckoned with during project proposals and permitting issues – while at the same time these qualities made him a tremendous asset to the community in helping maintain the character and quality of life in Black Point.

One of the most notable community efforts Hank was active in was the Stonetree Golf Course and residential development, which ultimately began construction in 2000-2001. Hank was not supportive of the original development proposal and was instrumental in garnering  community pressure and in negotiations with the developer that led to a compromised end result that was acceptable to both the neighbors and the developer: the number of houses was reduced from 238 to 53, three trees were planted for every one removed, reclaimed water was required to be used on the golf course, only one housing unit per 2 acres, a 64-acre wildlife preserve was be created, and all was done without bond or assessment districts and at no cost to local taxpayers or residents. Once the compromises were agreed to, Hank became invaluable in helping get broad-based community support for the project.

In 2008, the 64-acre preserve that was created as part of the StoneTree development changed hands from a conservancy group to the County of Marin Parks Department. In 2009, Hank approached me to rename the preserve after Vince Mulroy, who was part of the StoneTree development team who worked closely with Hank to develop the above-mentioned compromise. This was a perfect example of the type of man Hank was. He did not let differences mar his relationships; he was a collaborator and a team builder.

If you find yourself in the Vince Mulroy Memorial Woodland and Wildlife Preserve, you will find a bench there with a plaque that reads: “Hank Barner’s Bench, a special place to celebrate the land he helped save.” A perfect tribute to remain in a community Hank loved.

I think all of those who have worked with Hank share an enormous respect for him. He was always impartial, fair, thoughtful, civil and intellectually honest.

Rest in Peace Hank. Your tireless commitment and effort to maintain the beautiful community of Black Point and that of greater Novato will not be forgotten.

2015

2015 Look Who's Getting it Done Winner – Tracy Rivkin

On July 20, 1968 Eunice Kennedy Shriver strode to the microphone at Soldier Field in Chicago and convened the first Special Olympic Games. She ended by reciting the Special Olympics oath: Let me win, But if I cannot win, Let me be brave in the attempt.

Since that day the Special Olympics has become a part of American culture and is also a part of Marin County.

A very special woman, Tracy Rivkin of Novato, has been instrumental in spearheading this cause in Marin and she is my recipient of the 2015 Look Who’s Getting It Done Award.

Tracy and her family have lived in Novato for thirty years. Tracy became inspired to help people with developmental disabilities after watching a troubling television program about institutions for people with developmental disabilities. She began to volunteer with the Special Olympics.

To share a little about the Special Olympics – they are the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries. The organization helps raise awareness and through sports, it showcases the skills and dignity of participating athletes. In addition, it brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together to see and take part in the transformative power of sports.

Since 2001, as Co-Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, Tracy has been a tremendous asset to the Special Olympics Marin Games. I have had the great pleasure of working with Tracy over the years as I've attended the Special Olympics Marin Games at Terra Linda High School. Last year 350 athletes from nine counties in Northern California participated. Tracy is clearly the behind the scenes guru bringing everything together from the bands playing (last year featured the Stanford University Band), to rest stops for the athletes, to Michael Pritchard's inspiring speeches, to the coordination of over 300 volunteers that help make the event a success. In addition to all that, Tracy somehow finds the time to also be the Head Bowling Coach at the Marin Games.

With over 30 years of professional event and project management experience, Tracy has made an invaluable contribution to the organization and the success of the Special Olympics Marin Games.

Through her fundraising efforts in supporting the Special Olympics, Tracy realized that locally raised funds provided to the Special Olympics did not always stay in the Marin community. So in 2012, Tracy along with other concerned parents and volunteers from Marin launched "Marin's Best", a 501C3 that supports social, educational and athletic activities to enrich the lives of members of our local community who have developmental disabilities. One hundred percent of donations raised by Marin's Best stay in Marin. Their efforts include: providing in-kind services, raising funds for Marin-based organizations like the Special Olympics Marin Games, expanding existing programs in the community, and partnering with other non-profit organizations to enhance experiences for the developmentally disabled.

There are approximately 200 million people with intellectual disabilities around the world and the organizations that Tracy works with are making great strides to reach and inspire these individuals. To learn more about these organizations, to learn about volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, visit: marinsbest.org and/or specialolympics.org.

Thank you Tracy Rivkin for your inspiring, tireless work. You truly are "Getting it Done"!

2014

2014 Look Who's Getting it Done Winner – June Haugen

I am happy to announce that the 2014 Look Who’s Getting it Done Award goes to June Haugen.

June has been an integral part of the fabric of Novato for the 14 years she has lived here, and we are sad to see June moving on to the next phase of her life as she and her husband Jack re-locate this winter.

In particular, June has been a vital part of a project that is near and dear to me, the re-opening of the Novato Theater in downtown Novato. Since the beginning of this effort, she has lent her incredible talents to work towards creating a venue for film, live music, performing arts, public events and education at the Novato Theater. She organized the volunteers at the start of the campaign and was the liaison to Bernice Baeza, the project manager. She worked on obtaining the agreement with the city to sell the theater to the non-profit organization and was instrumental in getting the word out to Novato residents about the need for this venue and worked diligently to secure the funding needed to purchase the building.

When Bernice died, June stepped up and tackled many important details and projects including: the gathering of Novato Theater documents from Bernice's estate; forming a Board of Directors; arranging meetings with contractors; selling existing theater seats; implementing kids film events; establishing a film club with discussions from film makers; finding capital campaign experts to share with the board; and generally not only holding things together, but moving the project forward.

June should feel a sense of pride over the critical work she has accomplished for the Novato Theater. We will see this project through to completion, with construction beginning this year, not only because it is so good for our community, but because of June Haugen and her tireless tenacity.

In addition to her herculean efforts for the Novato Theater, June has been a steadfast presence in other aspects of the community as well. June was an active volunteer while her daughter attended Novato Public Schools. She chaired the School Fuel Cycling for Schools event, which eventually became the Tour of Novato, an event that raises much needed funding for Novato Schools. Prior to that she was an ambassador to School Fuel for many years, helped with the School Fuel Bocce Tournament and provided a lending hand whenever needed. She believed it was important to bring all the schools together as one community.

June joined the Novato 4th of July Parade Committee 10 years ago and has been in charge of the VIPs in the parade ever since. She coordinated cars and drivers, decorated the vehicles and handled last minute emergencies with grace. She is truly an unflappable and professional person and her efforts were instrumental in producing a top notch community parade!

June Haugen embodies the meaning of community. Thank you June for all you have contributed to Novato and especially for the dedication and commitment you have provided the Novato Theater – we will miss you and expect to see you at the Novato Theater's Grand Opening!

2013

2013 Look Who's Getting it Done Winner – Haley Pavone

I am delighted to announce that the 2013 Look Who’s Getting it Done Award goes to Haley Pavone, a senior at Novato High School.

I first learned about the amazing work Haley is doing while reading an article about her in the Pacific Sun. One day Haley spotted an abundance of fruit laying on the ground in a neighbor’s yard. She took notice and realized she discovered pounds of fresh, and often organic, produce all over residential yards in her neighborhood and throughout Novato. Haley discussed her findings with her mother and what she came up with next should be an inspiration to us all!

Mary Jane points out that schools throughout the State have lost $55 million over the last two years in State budget cuts and that whether one has children or not, every aspect of life in Marin improves when our public schools do their job. She also notes there is a disparity in the amount of funds raised by school foundations in Marin. Some foundations, located in the more affluent areas in our county, are able to raise considerable funds to support their schools. In other areas, including San Rafael and Novato, there is greater economic diversity resulting in lower funding levels even with the incredibly great work done by our own Novato School Fuel, the Novato Foundation for Public Education.

Haley was determined to collect excess produce and distribute it to those in need. She founded Project Abundance. This teen-run community service project’s mission is: to harvest surplus garden and farm produce to be donated to the Marin Food Bank for distribution to local families in need. Project Abundance harvest services are free and offered to residents in Novato.

Haley and a group of volunteers glean produce and deliver it to the Marin Food Bank, a partner of Project Abundance, which distributes it to those in need. According to the Marin Food Bank, 9,000 people per week are served by the food bank which helps the 51,000 Marin residents who are in need of food. It’s often difficult for those of us in Marin to realize the great need we have right here, in Marin County. More than 20% of Marin’s population is affected and in need of food assistance.

As of December 23, 2013 Project Abundance had gleaned 1,732 pounds of fresh produce and delivered it to the Marin Food Bank. I am honored to have Haley Pavone as the 2013 Look Who’s Getting It Done Awardee. It is truly an inspiration to learn about the youth in our community who put their enthusiasm and energy to good work to help those who are less fortunate.

If you want to be a part of Project Abundance, it’s easy to help. To schedule a free harvest in Novato, email: projectabundance@yahoo.com. In addition, Project Abundance collects donations of bins, clippers, gloves, ladders or cash. For more information, visit: http://projectabundancemarin.com/. To learn more about the Marin Food Bank, visit: http://www.sfmfoodbank.org/.

Thank you Haley Pavone for your hard work and dedication! You truly are “Getting it Done”!

2012

2012 Look Who's Getting it Done Winner – Mary Jane Burke

Drum roll please…the 2012 Look Who’s Getting It Done Award goes to Novato’s own Mary Jane Burke. Serving since 1994 as the Marin County Superintendent of Schools, Mary Jane has dedicated her career to our children and the public school system. Prior to being Marin County’s Superintendent of Schools, she worked as a teacher and administrator with the Marin County Office of Education for 20 years.

Earlier this year, Mary Jane took the Marin IJ’s offer of free advertising to support all the public school students in Marin and expanded it into a county wide organization called SchoolsRule-Marin: a coalition of over 20 public school foundations working in partnership with the Marin County Office of Education to benefit every public school student in Marin. Every child receives an equal share of funding across the board throughout the County. The funds are distributed to the school foundations, and if no foundation exists, the funds go directly to the school district. 

Mary Jane points out that schools throughout the State have lost $55 million over the last two years in State budget cuts and that whether one has children or not, every aspect of life in Marin improves when our public schools do their job. She also notes there is a disparity in the amount of funds raised by school foundations in Marin. Some foundations, located in the more affluent areas in our county, are able to raise considerable funds to support their schools. In other areas, including San Rafael and Novato, there is greater economic diversity resulting in lower funding levels even with the incredibly great work done by our own Novato School Fuel, the Novato Foundation for Public Education.

In 2012, SchoolsRule-Marin raised $220,000 which has been distributed to schools in Marin on a per capita basis. In Novato, a $50,768.18 grant was awarded to Novato School Fuel.

What makes this program so unique is the unprecedented step to work together as one in raising funds for all students in public schools throughout the County. This is the first cross-county organization to collaborate with every district in Marin to improve education for all students. In addition to raising much needed funding, SchoolsRule- Marin engages the community to learn about our schools, the issues they face, and coordinates volunteer efforts - making this a tremendous program all around.

Mary Jane Burke is also leading the efforts of the Marin County Fair to partner with the Marin County Office of Education, on creating the “Schools Rule” theme in 2013 - to celebrate and showcase students, teachers and Marin’s education community.

Congratulations Madam Superintendent. You continue to “Get It Done” for Marin schools. Our children and our public school system will be a priority of mine this year and I applaud your efforts and successes.

2011

2011 Look Who's Getting it Done Winner - Kenneth Harth

I am delighted to announce that the 2011 winner of the Look Who's Getting It Done award goes to Kenneth Harth for his incredible volunteer work with Marin County Parks and most recently his work on trails and fire roads in the Indian Valley Preserve.

Ken became a Marin County Parks Environmental Stewardship Program Volunteer for Trails in March 2010. His experience as an Engineer and his intimate knowledge of the trails from hiking them since 1976 gave County Parks confidence that he would do a great job. They were correct; Ken has become a truly valuable volunteer.

Ken's trail work concentrated on trails that were hand dug about 25 to 30 years ago and have received little maintenance since. Ken told me, "For years I have watched these beautiful trails erode and deteriorate to the point of being almost impassable in winter."

This launched Ken into action. He joined the County's Environmental Stewardship Program and so far he has: re-excavated and restored over a half mile of trail; eliminated all the seasonally muddy spots on the Schwindt Trail; re-groomed the full length of the Waterfall Trail between the areas he has restored (with only two muddy spot needing restoration/regarding); stabilized and made storm water improvements to the Clark Malone Trail; and stabilized the Witzel Trail (yes this is the Ron Witzel trail that the Board of Supervisors named in Ron's honor in 2009).

Great volunteers often inspire others, and Ken's activities have triggered the interest of local Rotaries, the Marin Motorcycle Club as well as many individuals in helping with these trail improvement efforts. continue to distribute as they see people in need.

Ken is a former President of the Novato Downtown Business Association and has given hundreds of hours of volunteer work to the community that he loves. Ken was awarded the Heartwood Volunteer Award from County Parks in 2010 and has previously been awarded Volunteer of the Week by the Marin IJ.

Congratulations Ken on your quiet work of seeing something that needs doing and getting it done. Your efforts to improve and maintain County Open Space through endless hours of hard work and dedication are a benefit to and appreciated by our entire community, which is evident through the "fan club" Ken has developed who leave thank you letters with scores of signatures. Thank you Ken, for all that you do.

2010

2010 Look Who’s Getting it Done Winner – Elizabeth DeRuvo

This year, I received five nominations, all of which were outstanding. One stood out as exemplifying the kind of spirit mixed with compassion and selflessness that will get us through hard times.

The 2010 winner of the Look Who's Getting It Done award is Elizabeth DeRuvo. Elizabeth is a second grader at Pleasant Valley School. Last year she asked her mother what homeless people do to keep warm. Her mother replied that if they're lucky they can find a shelter, but if not, they have to sleep outside.

The next morning Elizabeth went through the hall closets and gathered a dozen extra blankets and passed them out to homeless people in Novato. She was particularly inspired when she later she saw a woman keeping warm with one of the blankets they handed out draped over her shoulders.

This year, Elizabeth has expanded her program by asking friends, family, classmates and neighbors to donate items to what she has named: Operation Warm Winter. She mailed requests letters to friends and family and donations came in from as far away as Sacramento.

A "sorting" party was held at the DeRuvo's house. Volunteers assembled 25 personal care packages, each containing a blanket, socks, hat, gloves and a scarf. Elizabeth and her family personally delivered the care packages to homeless people they saw while driving around Novato, as well as bundles of care packages to local organizations helping the homeless. Their efforts have not ended there. They are always are sure to keep a basket in the back of their car with warm items that they can continue to distribute as they see people in need.

Elizabeth's efforts have been recognized by a national non-profit called Kids Are Heroes, where she was selected as one of 150 world-wide child heroes. In addition, a national talk show, the Nate Berkus show, heard about Elizabeth's Operation Warm Winter project and she and her mother are flying to New York where Elizabeth will be featured on the show.I invited Elizabeth to a Board of Supervisors Meeting on January 4 to introduce her to my colleagues and the County family - and to present her with the award. (You can view the video from the Meeting Archive page.) When presented with the award, Elizabeth replied, "I am proud of myself!" We are proud of you too Elizabeth. Keep up the good work!

Congratulations Elizabeth for being such a wonderful example of the season of giving, and the resolution to do better for the less fortunate in our community in the New Year.

2009

2009 Look Who’s Getting it Done Winner – Patty Bennett

Novato resident Patty Bennett is an extremely active community member and spends tireless hours giving back to the community. As a local community activist committed to the growth and care of the Novato community, Patty has been serving on various committees around town for many years. Since 2004, Patty Bennett has served on the board of the Novato Youth Center (NYC). In addition to her duties as Vice-President of the NYC Board and chairperson of the Development Committee, she founded and co-chairs their bi-annual fundraising event Cruisin’ the Classics.

When asked why she's devoting time and energy to the NYC, Patty responded, "I returned to work when my daughter Cathryn was two years old and had comfort daily knowing that she was receiving quality child care from my sister-in-law. I have strong compassion for working parents who don't have worry-free childcare arrangements and joined NYC to help make accessible quality childcare for these parents. NYC's Board is one of the hardest working volunteer groups I have been involved with over the years. We work hard and share many laughs, while accomplishing great milestones for NYC, Novato and its community - it's very rewarding and an honor to serve on NYC's Board of Directors."

Patty was on the Executive Director Transition team for the Novato Youth Center and played a critical role in transitioning the leadership of the NYC after the retirement of an Executive Director who served 23 years.

Patty is dedicated to Novato and currently serves as Treasurer for "Novato 2010 - Celebrating 50 years" Birthday Celebration Steering Committee and has served for many years on the Coordinating Committee for the Paint the Town Red event. She is also an Elder at the Presbyterian Church of Novato and has served as PTA President for Pleasant Valley Elementary School and on Leadership Councils for NUSD schools Pleasant Valley Elementary, Sinaloa Middle and San Marin High School.

Since 1974, Patty and her husband Chuck have lived in Novato. Community involvement runs in the family as Chuck, former Novato Citizen of the Year, currently serves on boards for Northbay Family Homes and the IJ Editorial. Prior to their retirement years, Chuck served as CEO and Patty as Vice-President/Branch Manager, Novato for California Land Title of Marin. Now retired, they enjoy spending time in Clear Lake with family and friends and their 21 year old daughter Cathryn.

Patty has been described as a “quiet presence” and an “unsung hero.” I think it is time to sing the praises of this hero and make a loud noise to celebrate her commitment to the Novato community. Thank you Patty Bennett for “Getting It Done” in so many ways!

2008

2008 Look Who’s Getting it Done Winner – Ken and Charlene Casey

I am pleased to announce that Ken and Charlene Casey are my pick for the 2008 Look Who’s Getting it Done Award for their generous contribution which will fund the Pediatric Unit in the new Novato Community Clinic.

You may have noticed the building on Redwood Boulevard next to Super Buffet that is undergoing renovation. It will be the new home of the Novato Community Clinic, which is currently located in cramped headquarters on Hill Road. The new, more spacious building will be close to transit and offer more services.

A book could and probably should be written about Ken Casey, except everyone would think his story is fictional. Ken was a professional soccer player, an opera singer, dog sledded to the North Pole, won a world rafting prize, and currently is President and CEO of Professional Investor’s Security Fund in Novato. In addition, he is a generous philanthropist who not only provides financial support, but also many hours of personal time and effort to several worthy causes.

Both Ken and his charming and gracious wife, Charlene, care deeply about underprivileged children. Their help with the Pediatric Unit of the Novato Clinic is just the latest example of the work they do as “Santa Helpers” all year round.

Thank you Ken and Charlene for your selfless commitment to improving our community and for “Getting It Done”!

2007

2007 Look Who’s Getting it Done Winner – Rob Hart & Hart Marin

The winner of the first award goes to Rob Hart and Hart Marin!

Rob Hart is a private developer who successfully built an affordable housing project in Novato without any public funds, tax credits or subsidies. Rob wanted to use his experience and expertise in real estate development for the good of the community rather than to maximize profit.

The development, Virginia Grove, is located at 1845 Virginia Avenue in Novato. It is a privately-funded, eight-home, single-family subdivision. Three of the homes are deed restricted as low-income homes to make them affordable now and in the future. The rest of the homes are priced at half the price of new homes in Novato.

Not only are these homes affordable, they are also built with green building practices and features including: passive solar heating and cooling, pre-wired for solar panels, stainless Energy Star appliances, and much more.

Please join me and thanking Rob Hart for his inspiration and commitment to improving our community. He truly is "getting things done" in Novato.

For more information about Hart Marin, visit their website.