Peter Karoff: In Memoriam

1938 - 2017

Peter Karoff was known in Santa Barbara and nationally for his lifelong passion for philanthropy and his gentle way of leading and inspiring others to build a better more connected society. He is remembered as a thoughtful, spiritual and generous man who always brought a helpful, unique and tactful perspective to every situation.

“Peter was a ‘quiet giant’ in the field of philanthropy, having mentored a whole generation of individuals, families, corporations and foundations,” said Ron Gallo, President & CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “We will miss him mightily, but are comforted by the legacy he has left.”

During his lifetime Peter was profoundly impacted by the social changes happening around him and began volunteering at a young age. While he initially pursued a career in the insurance and real estate businesses, he later made his passion for philanthropy the center of his life and started The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging and guiding donors to making substantive impact on critical issues. He served as the Chairman & Founder of TPI for more than 20 years, during which he supported many important social issues and helped propel many nonprofits forward.

“Peter was an inspiration, friend, counselor, mensch, father figure, sensei and role model for me; he modeled being a "citizen actor" and a devoted spouse,” said Jim Morouse, Board Chair of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “His impact on the Santa Barbara Foundation's strategic directions and his thoughtful contributions to the Katherine Harvey Fellows program are important legacies.”

In addition to guiding the work of the Santa Barbara Foundation, Peter also held a donor advised fund with the foundation to support the arts, youth and education. He served ably on the board of more than 30 nonprofits and foundations in Santa Barbara and nationally, but will perhaps be most fondly remembered for his eloquent and intelligent writings on philanthropy and for his beautiful poetry. His latest work was a book of poetry that will be released this May.

“Through his many thoughtful writings, Peter will be with us in a very concrete way for many years to come,” said Gallo. “His wisdom, enthusiasm, and encouragement will be dearly missed by family, colleagues and friends here and all over the world. Such was the reach of Peter Karoff.”

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