Share this story

Newport Beach well represented at 36th Annual National Philanthropy Day Orange County

If it hadn’t been for Newport Beach’s Doug Freeman, there would have never been a National Philanthropy Day. After soliciting Congress for five years to establish a day to thank those in our communities who are the “ultimate givers,” President Ronald Reagan established National Philanthropy Day in November 1986 and the rest is history. Because the Association of Fundraising Professionals stepped up early on to host the effort, today more than 140 communities throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada honor the philanthropic efforts of individuals, businesses and groups. Because Freeman founded the effort, Orange County was the first AFP chapter to host the first National Philanthropy Day. According to Freeman, who continues to participate, “I am so grateful that AFP took on the responsibility of sponsoring this effort all these years.”

Newport Beach well represented Freeman

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos by Tony Lattimore

National Philanthropy Day Founder Doug Freeman with Victoria Collins, founder of WISE and Outstanding Philanthropic Group honoree

Along those same lines, Newport Beach resident Victoria Collins Ph.D., founded the “Invest in Yourself” Conference nearly 25 years ago, which became WISE (Women Investing in Security and Education), and WISE was named the 2021 Outstanding Philanthropic Group at this year’s NPD-OC awards luncheon. “I could not be more proud of what a small group of women with a simple mission and a powerful plan has accomplished,” Collins said, who received the 2013 Outstanding Philanthropist NPD-OC award.

Newport Beach well represented Hall Brown

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) PBS SoCal’s Maria Hall-Brown, the event’s mistress of ceremonies, with Honorary Chair Nella Webster-O’Grady who was the 2020 Outstanding Philanthropist

In accepting the WISE award, Executive Director Angela Dailey recognized Collins’ founding, stating, “For almost 25 years WISE has remained true to its mission of financial empowerment for females of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.”

Newport Beach resident Michelle Wulfestieg, founder and executive director of the Southern California Hospice Foundation and named the 2018 NPD-OC Outstanding Founder, was the inspiration for this year’s Outstanding Youth, 17-year-old Saachi Pavani. “I heard Michelle speak at a Girl Scouts event and it sparked my desire to find my own life’s purpose through philanthropy,” Said Pavani.

The 36th Annual National Philanthropy Day Orange County Awards Luncheon, appropriately themed “Illuminating Hope through Philanthropy,” was attended by 640 guests on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at the City National Grove of Anaheim.

Newport Beach well represented foursome

Click on photo for a larger image

Representing MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center Foundation, Cathy Han MD, left, and Christy Ward, right; Southern California Hospice Foundation Executive Director Michelle Wulfestieg, second from left and MemorialCare Health System board of directors Tom Rogers

Mistress of Ceremonies for the heartwarming affair was PBS-So Cal’s Maria Hall-Brown. Newport Beach resident and 2020 Outstanding Philanthropist Nella Webster O’Grady was this year’s Honorary Chair. Event co-chairs were Joan McBride and Elizabeth McKibbon, with Program co-chairs Kathy Ruvolo and Mitch Spann overseeing the entire presentation. Judging Committee co-chairs were Charlie Zhang and John Christensen.

Newport Beach well represented Hilbert

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) Hilbert Museum of California Art Founder Mark Hilbert with Providence Southern Operations President Erik Wexler

Other honorees included Outstanding Philanthropist, Sun Family Foundation; Outstanding Founder, Meymuna Hussein-Cattan/The Tiyya Foundation; Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser, Eileen Padberg; Outstanding Small Business, Moxie Marketing Agency; Outstanding Mid-Size Business, Discount Tire & Service Centers; and Outstanding Large Corporation, Banc of California. 

All the honorees were presented a beautifully crafted hand-blown glass heart sculpture, created by master glassblower John Barber of Laguna Beach.

The estimated net proceeds was $75,394 for the support of the ethical advancement of philanthropy in the community by the Orange County Chapter of AFP.

Newport Beach well represented Schuler

Click on photo for a larger image

(L-R) Denise Schuler and Sydney Gielow

National Philanthropy Day Orange County honors those who have demonstrated philanthropy and enhanced their communities and the world. Each year, more than 140 Association of Fundraising Professionals’ chapters around the world honor the philanthropic efforts of individuals, businesses and groups. Its members collectively raise more than $100 billion every year, powering organizations and missions dedicated to remarkable charitable endeavors. For further information on the event, visit