Executive of the Year

Gordon Morrell

Gordon Morrell left the not-so-hipster confines of Brooklyn, NY for the wilds of Long Island at a very early age. His formative years were spent in community of Goshen, a farming community (then) of about 2,500 people in upstate New York.

Gordon did his undergraduate studies at Syracuse, Masters in education at the University of Hartford, and Doctorate in Education with a major in Counseling Psychology at UCSB, all the while supporting himself by playing in rock bands and folk duos. Shortly after arriving in Santa Barbara in 1973 he had the great fortune of meeting and later marrying Sheila, with whom he will celebrate his 40th anniversary in 17 days.

The newlyweds left Santa Barbara in 1976 in their 1963 VW soft-top window van, with their three rabbits, a dog, a cat, and a ficus benjamina plant that expired just east of Colorado. The rest of the family (which you can see today depicted on their wedding rings) eventually wound up in Maine, where Gordon taught Human Growth and Development classes to undergraduates, and Counseling classes to graduate students at the University of Maine campus near Portland.

While seemingly idyllic at first, two winters were enough to convince Sheila, a sixth-generation Californian, that cold was not a good thing. So in 1979, less than a year after their first daughter, Amy, was born, the Morrells headed back to Santa Barbara.

Gordon’s first position here was with the County Superintendent of Schools office playing the role of Captain Hydro, teaching school children how to conserve water during the drought of 1979. Sure enough, it poured that winter. Fortunately, state funding soon allowed him to become the Director of Child Development Services.

Their daughter Kate was born in 1981, and two years later Gordon, an early believer in the personal computer industry, founded Santa Barbara Softworks, which developed educational software. After three national top-ten best sellers, the company disbanded in 1990 and soon after, Gordon started working at Yardi Systems – when there were around 30 people. Today Yardi has nearly 5,000 employees and Gordon has been there for 26 years (probably because no one else would hire him).

Besides working at Yardi, Gordon enjoys his time with Sheila, friends, and family, but especially with their three grandkids: Brenia, Nico, and Novi. He chairs the Advisory Board of public radio station KCLU and devotes time to other nonprofit ventures.