Ventura County Philanthropists William Rolland, Eloise Olson Cohen and Chuck Cohen to be Honored

True philanthropists dig deep when times are hard, looking for innovative ways to change the world through their gifts of time, talent and treasure. On Tuesday, November 14, the Association of Fundraising Professionals Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties Chapter (AFPSBV) will honor seven individuals as a part of National Philanthropy Day and celebrate their key role in meeting a variety of community needs. AFPSBV is proud to announce this year’s National Philanthropy Day honorees for Ventura County including William Rolland for Philanthropists of the Year and Eloise and Chuck Cohen for Volunteers of the Year. Santa Barbara County honorees include Dorothy Largay for Philanthropist of the Year, Jim Jackson for Volunteer of the Year Elena Alcerro for Youth in Philanthropy, and Elaine Mah Best for Professional Fundraiser of the Year.

“AFPSBV is thrilled to recognize these outstanding individuals making a difference in our communities on the Central Coast,” says Hilary Molina, National Philanthropy Day Event Chair and AFPSBV Board member. 

Led by Master of Ceremonies, SBCC Foundation CEO Geoff Green, AFPSBV is expecting more than 250 guests and this event will sell out. Tickets are available now for the awards luncheon, set for 11:30 a.m. at the Fess Parker Double Tree Resort in Santa Barbara. To secure your seat for the event or for more information, contact the AFP office at (805) 500-6610 x105 or afpsbvreg@gmail.com or visit afpsbv.org.

More about the Ventura County Honorees

PHILANTHROPIST OF THE YEAR – WILLIAM ROLLAND

William Rolland was born during the Great Depression, rising from humble beginnings to achieve great success. After being drafted and serving in the Korean War, Rolland was a Los Angeles City firefighter for 18 years. His firefighting career came to an abrupt end when he was buried while attempting to save a man trapped by the 1969 Mandeville Canyon mudslides. He received the department’s Medal of Valor for his heroic efforts as well as commendations from former California Governor Ronald Reagan and former President Richard Nixon.

The career-ending injuries led Rolland to focus more on his childhood fascination with architecture, automobiles, and art. During the next 40 years, he purchased and developed real estate throughout Southern California and acquired a one-of-a-kind collection of automobiles and fine art.

Using his wealth to help his community, he established the William Rolland Firefighters Foundation to provide aid to families of firefighters who are injured or have lost their lives in the line of duty, and to their children with special needs.

During the 1950s and 1960s, William was part of the Chrysler race team that constructed one of the world’s fastest vehicles in pursuit of the land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He also began building and collecting cars from Hollywood movies. Today, his private collection includes more than 27 rare and vintage vehicles ranging from 1930s and 1940s midget racers to custom hot rods to modern day Indy race cars and super cars.

Rolland’s private collection of automotive works of art is complemented by his collection of fine art. From antique oil paintings to European bronze sculptures, the collection spans more than 500 years, with pieces from nearly every country in the world. The construction of the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art in 2012 at California Lutheran University allows the collection to be shared with the world. The gallery, the William Rolland Football and Soccer Stadium, and the adjacent William Rolland Art Center (the university’s first visual arts complex) has made California Lutheran University a center for sports and arts, a community gathering place for years to come.

VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR – ELOISE OLSON COHEN AND CHUCK COHEN

Eloise Olson Cohen is a graduate of California Lutheran University and Philips Graduate Institute and has been a resident of Thousand Oaks since 1963. She enjoyed a career in private practice at the Family Counseling Center of the Oaks and is currently Assistant Director of the Harold Stoner Clark Lectures at CLU, as well as a photographic artist, community advocate, and volunteer for many local nonprofits.

Eloise serves on the Thousand Oaks Cultural Affairs Commission, the Thousand Oaks Alliance for the Arts, and the Thousand Oaks Library Foundation. In addition to working with CLU’s development committee of the Center for Non Profit Management, Eloise is a member of the Casa Pacific Angels, Angels of the Arts, and Ascension Lutheran Church. She is also a volunteer for an interfaith group providing assistance to local immigrants and refugees. Her awards include Named Gift Honoree and Past President of the American Association of University Women, Service to Alma Mater and Career Excellence CLU, Community Conscience Mardi Gras Queen 2016, Paul Harris Fellow and Unsung Hero from the Thousand Oaks Rotary, and Woman of the Year from the Conejo Las Virgenes Chamber of Commerce. In 2009, along with Chuck, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts from the Alliance for the Arts.

Her parents, the late Rev. Dr. Raymond M. Olson and Helen A. Olson, were active community leaders whose legacy inspires her service for the greater good. Eloise and Chuck have four children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Together with Chuck, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and attending local cultural events. They are founders of the Bank of America Performing Arts Center in Thousand Oaks.

Chuck Cohen graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with bachelor’s and law degrees and has practiced law in Thousand Oaks since 1961. He is currently a partner with Cohen Begun & Deck LLP in Westlake Village.

One of Southern California’s most well-known and well-respected land development specialists, Chuck has also been a singularly engaged citizen of Ventura County. He served on the Water Bond Committee, which brought Metropolitan Water to the Conejo Valley and resulted in the incorporation of the city of Thousand Oaks, and also served as a city planning commissioner, councilman, and mayor. He is past president of the Ventura County Bar Association, Conejo Future Foundation, and Casa Pacifica, and was named chair emeritus of the Conejo Valley Optimist Club. He was corporate attorney and board member of Conejo Symphony Orchestra, founding director of the New West Symphony and Alliance for the Arts, and chair of the “We Need a Place” campaign to raise the endowment for the Civic Arts Plaza. Chuck incorporated and served as advisor to the first Arts Council of the Conejo Valley, was board member of the Conejo Players, was a committee member for Under One Roof Social Service Organization, served as legal counsel for the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and Camelot affordable housing task force, and provided pro bono legal counsel for Cabrillo Economic Development Rancho Sespe farm workers project. He is currently a board member of the McCrea Ranch Foundation, Casa Pacifica, KCLU-FM, and Cal State Channel Islands, and serves on the advisory committee for Community Conscience.

The Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce named him Man of the Year in 1990 for his service to the community, and, along with his wife, Eloise, he received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from the Alliance for the Arts. He received the Guardian Angel Award from Casa Pacifica and was named King of Mardi Gras in 2012 by Community Conscience.

He and Eloise have been married for 39 years and have four children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Together with Eloise, he enjoys UCLA sports events, spending time with family, and attending diverse educational and cultural events in the community.

Association of Fundraising Professionals

The Association of Fundraising Professionals represents more than 31,000 fundraisers in 235 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education, and certification programs. The Association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession.  More than 100 charitable fundraisers in the local area are represented by the AFP Chapter of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.  For more information, please visit www.afpsbv.org.


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