Liz Summer, volunteer with ‘unbreakable tenacity,’ named SLO Citizen of the Year

Liz Summer was named the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Citizen of the Year.
Liz Summer was named the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Citizen of the Year.

A local woman dedicated to supporting the arts, health care and women’s causes has been named the 2016 Citizen of the Year by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

Liz Wagner Summer — a current officer and three-time past president of the San Luis Obispo Symphony who also has been an influential board director in the medical community — received the honor at Saturday’s annual chamber dinner.

Summer, a senior client relationship manager at Heritage Oaks Bank, has spent more than two decades “guiding local organizations, helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and inspiring the next generation of giving community members,” according to a statement released by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

Her service has included positions on the boards of directors for French Hospital Medical Center Foundation, Hospice San Luis Obispo County and the Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County, among many others. She has also volunteered for Phyllis’ Musical Revue and Fashion Show benefiting the Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County, Heritage Oaks Bank Family Fun Run, the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum, Jack’s Helping Hand and the Alzheimer’s Association.

“In her two-plus decades in San Luis Obispo, she has not just given her time to dozens of community organizations, but done so with fierce passion, extraordinary commitment and unbreakable tenacity — often in the face of daunting circumstances,” Maggie Cox, president and CEO of Barnett Cox & Associates, said in a statement. “Her willingness to step up and do the very heavy lifting sets her apart and has profoundly impacted San Luis Obispo.”

The San Luis Obispo Symphony has been a passion for Summer, the chamber said. She served as president three times and was recognized by the Association of California Symphony Orchestras with its “Most Valuable Player” award.

“While under her stewardship, the symphony has flourished and matured despite tremendous challenge,” the chamber noted in its announcement of Summer’s award. “During her time with the symphony, Summer focused heavily on music education, believing in the need to keep music in schools despite budget cuts. Her efforts resulted in musicians and instruments making rounds in local schools.”

Summer and her husband, John, moved to San Luis Obispo more than 20 years ago. They have raised three children in the community while committing to philanthropic endeavors.

“Liz has been a powerful voice, strong advocate, dedicated volunteer and staple in our community,” Heritage Oaks Bank CEO Simone Lagomarsino said. “She is an inspiration to all who know her.”

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