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Carmichael Times

Chamber Honors Heidi Sanborn

Feb 13, 2024 01:19PM ● By Susan Maxwell Skinner, photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner
Pictured with rescue pups Benny and Millie, SMUD Director Heidi Sanborn will be honored as Carmichael Person of the Year by Carmichael Chamber of Commerce and its supporters. A full list of honorees is included in this article. 

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - SMUD Director and Carmichael leading lady Heidi Sanborn has been named Person of the Year by the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce.

Sanborn (61) will join honorees at the Chamber’s February 29 Annual Awards Dinner.

Local recognition follows Sanborn’s recent Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the National Recycling Association.

“I’ve always been a community-minded person – that’s how I was raised,” says the environmental activist and civic leader. “I don’t expect awards; I’m just surprised and delighted.”

After a tri-state childhood (she called Delaware, Massachusetts, and Michigan home), Heidi Kahn made her way to California in 1982. “Two years out of high school, I decided California was calling me,” she recalls. “Every time I saw a weather map, a big yellow sun was over California. It also seemed the home of enterprise and forward-thinking people. I felt Californians appreciated their blessings and wanted to protect them. I wanted to join them in doing that.”

Her passion for the environment led to a career in recycling and waste-reduction policy for the State and private sector. A 2018 run for the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District board was encouraged by Carmichael’s then-SMUD director Bill Slaton. “I’m proud of everything we've done at SMUD,” says its 2023 President, Sanborn.

The Chamber award comes not just for municipal achievement.  With dirt on her hands she plants trees, pulls weeds and joins river clean-ups. A walk never occurs without a big garbage sack; the activist recently rolled a car tire hundreds of yards from the American Riverbank to where it could be removed by refuse collectors.

The two-election veteran concedes politics generates clutter. “Campaigns create waste,” she says. “We can take responsibility. That’s why, after the 2022 election, I helped (fellow SMUD Director) Gregg Fishman with a project to re-purpose plastic campaign signs. We gave hundreds to teachers and artists for creative projects. Most of them found homes.”

With a mom who suffered paranoid schizophrenia, Sanborn supports the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and co-chaired a 2023 “Walk for Mental health” with Supervisor Rich Desmond. “Heidi talked the talk and walked the walk,” reports Desmond. “It’s great to serve any cause with someone so committed to humanity.”

Project-mates often include Carmichael Kiwanis Club friends.  “They are some of the most loving, hard-working people I’ve known, and I’m proud to be a club member,” she says. “I’m glad the Chamber is honoring Kiwanis as Non-Profit of the Year.”

More support comes from her husband, real estate broker Brad Sanborn. Thirty years married; the couple moved to Carmichael in 2020. “We fell in love with the people and the place,” she explains. “Living near the American River is a dream for us.”

Sanborn’s 86-year-old father, Dr Clark Kahn III, and the family’s three rescue dogs share their Ancil Hoffman Park home.

“Over the years, Brad and I have fostered 76 dogs for the Front Street Animal Shelter,” says Sanborn. “People and animals are all part of this planet. I’ll always do my best to support them all.”

And the Honorees Are….

The Carmichael Chamber’s 2023 community honorees are:

-Person of the Year: Heidi Sanborn (SMUD).

-Businesswoman of the Year: Silvia Anderson (Nature’s Lab School).

-Businessman of the Year: Joe Green (Pit Boss Jerky).

-Nonprofit of the Year: Kiwanis of Carmichael.

-Public Service Award: Carmichael Recreation and Park District.

-Carmichael Legacy Award: Carmichael Elks Lodge.

-New Business Awards: Carmichael Disc Center and School of Rock, Sacramento.

-Chamber Champion Award: Milagro Centre.

-Carmichael Spirit Award: Carmichael Midas.

-Chamber Ambassador of the Year: Anna-Marie Rodriguez (MoneySafe Mortgage).

Anyone can attend Carmichael Chamber of Commerce’s Community Recognition dinner, at La Sierra Community Center on February 29. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Carmichael Kiwanis Club of. Tickets are $85 per person. The center is located at 5325 Engle Road. For reservations, go to

Kiwanis Club of Carmichael Heidi Sanborn

The Kiwanis Club of Carmichael has been named Non-Profit of the year and will share proceeds from the February 29 gala. Principal event honoree Heidi Sanborn (center) wields a ground-breaking shovel during a Carmichael tree planting project.