One moment as Mrs. Bennett fretting over her daughters in Pride and Prejudice and the next playing the queen of fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Polly Firestone Walker’s passion for theater is evident in her performances and in every class she teaches as a Resident Artist of the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA). For Firestone Walker, theater is much like philanthropy. Just as theater is about the joy of storytelling, creation and connection, philanthropy is about bringing people together through stories and ideas to make the world a little brighter. This is exactly why Firestone Walker is not only passionate about theater, but as a philanthropic leader strives to consistently give back to Santa Barbara County.
“In addition to being one of the most beautiful places in the world, what I love most about Santa Barbara County are the people,” said Firestone Walker. “There are so many kind and interesting people that live here and the ones that stay here are those who are looking for a community that makes them feel welcome and are invested in working to make it a better place.”
Firestone Walker, who grew up in Santa Ynez Valley and returned after studying and performing theater around the country, has done her fair share of giving back to Santa Barbara County. She served as the chairman of the Ballard School Auction committee and president of the Friends of the Solvang Library. She served for nine years on the board of the Solvang Theaterfest, including two years as chair for the Stage for All Reasons Capital Campaign. She ran the Solvang Theaterfest Youth Theater Summer Shakespeare workshops and taught Shakespeare workshops at Dunn Middle School. She also ran the backstage operations for Los Olivos Dance Gallery’s Center Stage production for 12 years and served on the Santa Barbara Foundation Arts and Recreation Grants Committee and Creative Writing Committee. Additionally, she was both the junior and senior warden for St. Mark’s-In-The-Valley Episcopal Church; was president of the Cate Parents’ Organization; and participated as a member of the Santa Barbara Foundation Grants Committee.
Firestone Walker also previously served as a trustee of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “I was on the board of the Santa Barbara Foundation when the foundation began focusing more on solving issues,” said Firestone Walker. “At that point, the foundation began becoming the leader it is today.”
Firestone Walker has continued her involvement with the Santa Barbara Foundation by opening a donor advised fund. She enjoys having a donor advised fund because it makes it easy for her to keep track of her giving and provide targeted gifts to organizations she cares about.I hope the Santa Barbara Foundation remains the center of philanthropy in the community and continues to serve those who live here and help this county remain a healthy, sustainable and beautiful place to livePolly Firestone Walker
“I hope the Santa Barbara Foundation remains the center of philanthropy in the community and continues to serve those who live here and help this county remain a healthy, sustainable and beautiful place to live,” said Firestone Walker.
Whatever her next role, Firestone Walker’s legacy as one of Santa Barbara County’s leading ladies in philanthropy will be remembered as her star performance for years to come.