Kemper gets nod as county's
by Bret Bradigan
For insight into Joan Kemper's life, you merely need to witness
the teetering stack of bulging file folders, blueprints and correspondence
piling up on and around her kitchen counter.
This is clearly the work of a busy woman. And despite the seeming
chaos, an impressively organized and productive one, as those
who benefit from her expertise can attest.
It scarcely matters which Ojai organization you mention, Kemper
has had a hand in it at one point or another, and often at the
point of its origin; Ojai Music Festival, Pergola Restoration
Committee, Ojai Film Society, Help of Ojai, Ojai Valley Land
Conservancy, Ojai Valley Museum, Ojai Valley Youth Foundation,
Ojai Valley Community Hospital board of directors and chair of
its development committee, to name a few of her past and present
"Everything interests me," she said. "That's my
problem. It's hard for me to say 'No.'"
It's no wonder then that on Nov. 15, National Philanthropy Day,
Kemper will be honored by the Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties
Association of Fundraising Professionals as its volunteer of
the year, along with her friend, Marion Stewart, who will represent
Santa Barbara County.
The luncheon event will take place at Spanish Hills Country Club
in Camarillo. E.J. Harrison and Sons will be honored as the philanthropists
of the year.
It was Kemper's involvement in the hospital's development committee
that led to the nomination and subsequent award. Gary Farr, who,
along with his wife, Brenda, co-chaired with Kemper the Hospital
Foundation Guild's recent Nightingale Ball, nominated her for
the honor, and easily rounded up an impressive list of endorsements
from other people in Ojai.
"Anyone who knows Joan is amazed at what she's done,"
he said. "She's absolutely tireless."
Kemper, who has lived in Ojai since 1986, believes that her contributions
have already been amply rewarded. "I feel very strongly
that if you live in a community, you give something back to it,"
she said. "The more you give to it, the more you get back
Her career included theater management and production, as well
as 15 years as a banking director. "I can't even balance
my checkbook," she said, but her talent and expertise in
marketing and audience development has been the constant theme
in whatever endeavor she's pursued.
Her latest endeavor has been to help the fledgling Ojai Performing
Arts Council get off the ground. OPAC will be the method and
mechanism for the various performing arts organizations in Ojai
to create momentum for the next big project - a community performing
arts center. That center - Ojai Performing Arts Theater - will
be the centerpiece of her efforts to usher in a new generation
of active, motivated volunteers to carry on where she has left
"Young people have lots of energy, and they don't know what
to do about it," she said. "You need to give them things
to do that are constructive, as well as fun. It gets them out
of themselves and into the community."
It will also, through exposure to a wide range of theater duties
- from outfront dancers and singers and actors to backstage gaffers
and grips - give them a leg up on career choices.
Career choices are something Kemper knows about, having had many
herself. But Ojai itself might be the career to which her talents
and drive have been best applied.
For tickets or more information about the National Philanthropy
Day luncheon, call 962-5339, Ext. 17.
2002 The Ojai Valley News
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