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Board Members

Thomas J. Higgins

Thomas Higgins is an active investor and entrepreneur in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was the founding CEO (2003-2008) of Prosetta Biosciences,, and is currently chairman of the board of directors. In addition, he is a long-time director and chair of the board of Akonni Biosystems,, a molecular diagnostics company.  

Prior to that, he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Business for Social Responsibility. BSR is the leading global resource for businesses seeking to improve their performance in areas of corporate social responsibility.   

Higgins served in the administration of President Jimmy Carter, beginning as a senior executive at HHS and later as Associate Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. He was then appointed by the President to the White House Senior Staff, where he served as Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet.

Early in his public career, he was elected to the Iowa General Assembly at the age of 27, where he served three terms and was chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. In the early 1980s he was the head of the Health and Social Services Department in Portland, Oregon.

In 1983, he began his private sector career as founding Publisher and President of The Business Journal in Portland, Oregon. Subsequently, Higgins became the co-founder and editor-in-chief of HealthWeek, a national newspaper covering health business news in the United States.

In 1990, Higgins was recruited as a vice president of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Maryland. He was subsequently elected a Senior Vice President of the company, with broad responsibilities for operations and staff organizations, as well as its subsidiary holdings.

Higgins began his energy related career at Southern California Edison and Edison International in 1995, serving as a Senior Vice President. Edison is a $15 billion electric utility company. During his career with the company, Higgins served on the management committee and helped to set overall strategy for the company.

For the past 20 years, he has served on the board of SCAN Health Plan, a $2.5B, non-profit Medicare HMO. He also was founding chair of The SCAN Foundation, an independent philanthropy focused on improving senior care support and services in America. Higgins has been on the US Committee of Human Rights Watch for 10 years. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Ambrose University, where he graduated cum laude in 1967.

Robert K. Miller
Vice President

In 2015 Robert retired from a national litigation law firm where he tried cases in numerous federal and state courts across the country.  He primarily defended manufacturers in products liability lawsuits.  He was one of 13 lawyers in Minneapolis and Phoenix who founded the firm in 1985. The firm grew to over 200 lawyers and is located in 13 offices from coast to coast.  In 1998 Robert transferred to the firm’s Los Angeles office where he served a term as the managing partner. Since retirement, Robert has worked as a legal mediator. He volunteers his services for the Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Robert was born in a small Iowa farm town. He received his B.S. degree from Iowa State University and J.D. degree from the University of Minnesota. Prior to law school, he served in the Peace Corps in Morocco, worked as a congressional assistant, managed a U.S. Senate Campaign in Iowa, served as the chief political aide for a U.S. Senator and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Refugee Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Robert and his wife Anne moved from Long Beach to Goleta in 2014. In Goleta, Robert has been actively involved in numerous community activities. He served on the Goleta Planning Commission from 2017 to 2020.  He was appointed to the SBCC Board of Trustees for the Santa Barbara Community College District in March 2018 to fill a vacancy. In November 2018 he was elected to serve the final two years of his predecessor’s term. He was re-elected to a full four-year term in November 2020. He served as President of the Board from December 2018 to December 2020.

Robert is a former marathon runner. He now stays healthy cycling and walking on the beaches and trails in the Santa Barba area.  He regularly logs over 2,000 miles a year on his bike.

Ed Howard

Whether leading the successful effort to save one of the nation’s largest wetland habitats, helping to secure $1 billion in refunds for California insurance consumers, writing California’s first law addressing identity theft, paving the way for LGBT couples to be legal parents, improving the lives of California’s foster children, quarterbacking enactment of the best campaign disclosure law in the nation, or ensuring equal treatment for girls in public schools, Ed Howard for over 25 years has been one of California’s most successful public interest advocates in the courts, before numerous regulatory agencies, in the press, and in the California State Capitol.


His firm, Howard Advocacy, Inc., launched in 2006 and has been privileged to represent such organizations as the University of San Diego’s Children’s Advocacy Institute and Center for Public Interest Law (two of California’s oldest and most respected public interest groups), Columbia Forest Products (a green building company seeking regulation of formaldehyde in wood products), Earthjustice (defeating an end-of-session legislative gambit to overturn appellate environmental justice victory), United Food and Commercial Workers, SEIU-UHW (private-sector health care workers), Common Cause, the California Clean Money Campaign, and many others. 


He is a member of the State Bar of California and is also admitted to practice law before several federal District Courts, the Ninth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. A recognized expert in administrative, licensing, constitutional, consumer, privacy, and initiative law, he has been counsel in numerous precedent-setting cases, including many published decisions.

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