Anita Robinson, a community leader dedicated to supporting disadvantaged communities, affordable housing and women in business, was named the 2017 Citizen of the Year during the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner on Saturday January 20, 2018.

The founder of Mission Community Bank, Robinson has spearheaded multiple organizations that have filled critical needs in the community and tirelessly advocated for many worthy causes.

“What a gift,” Robinson said after being surprised with the award Saturday. “I love this community. You’ve been there for me many, many times, in many hard times.”

Robinson is founder and president of Mission Community Services Corp., a nonprofit dedicated to helping potential entrepreneurs – especially underserved low-to-moderate income minority women – become self-sustaining, successful business owners.  Named Women’s Business Center of the Year in 2016, the organization has launched 165 small businesses, created more than 500 new jobs and brought more than $26 million into the local economy.

A driving force in improving housing affordability for the poor and working class, Robinson was also the founding chairperson of the San Luis Obispo County Housing Trust Fund, which has provided more than $18 million in loans to build nearly 700 affordable housing units.

Robinson spearheaded the creation of the Central Coast Economic Forecast and served as a founding board member, following time on the board of its predecessor, the UCSB Economic Forecast Project for San Luis Obispo.

“She is extraordinarily accomplished and an incredible community leader who has not forgotten her humble roots,” said Dave Cox, executive vice president and general manager of Barnett Cox & Associates. “She’s focused on helping those in disadvantaged positions get ahead in life, working quietly and without fanfare.”

Other local involvement includes service on the boards of directors for the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo, Cuesta College Foundation, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce and California Bankers Association, which she chaired in 2007.  She’s also served on the Community Cabinet for Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business and the Sierra Vista Hospital Governing Board.

Robinson was honored with the 2016 Women of Distinction Progress for Women Award by Cuesta College and the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County’s Women’s Legacy Fund, where she’s also a Legacy Leader.

She’s also been awarded accolades including 2007 Women in Business Champion of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration for Central California, 2006 Influential Latino by Latino Today, 2005 Mujer Hispana Distinguida by Adelante Mujer Hispana, 2004 Trailblazer of the Year by Women’s Economic Ventures and 2003 California Polytechnic State University Entrepreneurial Leadership Award for Financial Services.

Robinson founded Mission Community Bank in 1996, after working her way up from teller to CEO of Commerce Bank of San Luis Obispo. She was then president and CEO of Coast National Bank from 2012 until it was acquired by Sierra Bancorp in 2016.