Brent Daniels, ’83, wanted to become a geologist when he first started his college career. He transferred to UC Santa Barbara in his junior year, intent on continuing his studies in this field. “I had to take a rocks class – you know where you had a little box of them and you had to know them by heart, name them and be able to tell the instructor which was which,” he said. “I just looked at those rocks and said `no.’ It just wasn’t for me.”
So Daniels left the rocks behind and earned a degree in environmental studies. “I had some great instructors at the University,” he said. “They kept me on track and made me understand what I wanted.” After graduating from UCSB, Daniels went on to get his masters degree in city and regional planning at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.
This path led Daniels to a career spanning 30 years as a professional planner for both the public and private sector in Santa Barbara County. This November, his community leadership and professional expertise was recognized by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce with the 2015 Goleta’s Finest Public Servant of the Year Award. “I am very thankful,” he said. “I have over 30 years of planning experience – I really love what I do, especially projects where I had a chance to fulfill that piece of my brain that needed to be creative.”
Daniels has worked as senior planner for the City of Santa Barbara and as project manager at a small private firm. Since 2007, he has served as planning commissioner for the City of Goleta. “I was on the founding planning commission for the City,” he said. “It’s been over seven years – I don’t think anyone else has gotten that much time on this commission.”
Since graduation, Daniels has returned to the classroom multiple times at UC Santa Barbara – this time as a featured guest speaker about his career path and planning experience. The UCSB Environmental Planning Coalition, the University’s first undergraduate professional organization for future planners and consultants, featured Daniels as their premiere speaker last year. “It’s been a great to answer a lot of questions and it’s been nice for me with respect to mentoring students,” he said. “It’s something every one should go through, to find out the experience that is not included in classes.”