Seymour Center director honored as 'community hero'

Julie Barrett HeffingtonJulie Barrett Heffington, director of UC Santa Cruz's Seymour Marine Discovery Center, was named a "Community Hero" at a United Way ceremony today that annually reports on a comprehensive state-of-the-county survey.

A press conference at the University Inn & Conference Center on Ocean Street in Santa Cruz provided details of the 16th annual Community Assessment Project. (See United Way of Santa Cruz County press release.)

The event — emceed by Donna Murphy, vice chancellor of University Relations at UCSC, and Alan McKay, executive director of the Central California Alliance for Health — also honored some 30 local residents for their work improving the quality of life in Santa Cruz County.

Heffington is one of them.

Director of the Seymour Center at UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory since the center first opened its doors in 2000, Heffington oversees a public facility that welcomes approximately 60,000 visitors every year who learn about the "living treasure right off our coast, while gaining a deep appreciation about the ocean, its importance in our lives, and the pivotal role it plays in the health of our planet."

During her presentation as a community hero, Heffington was also described as an "inspirational leader to the Seymour Center’s staff and volunteers, and above all is an enthusiastic, selfless and dedicated educator."