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Taryn Palumbo

Executive Director


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Orange County Grantmakers (OCG) hosted more than 250 nonprofit, philanthropic and community leaders at the Delhi Center in Santa Ana on Thursday, October 4 for its annual summit. This year’s conference theme was “Building Our Movement” and attendees heard from keynote speakers including Jessica Ladd, founder of Callisto, a nonprofit that uses technology to combat sexual assault and harassment Nicole Hockley, founder of Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit that supports common-sense solutions to prevent gun violence in our communities; Dr. Manuel Pastor with USC Dornsife’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity; and Reverend James Lawson, retired pastor emeritus with Holman Methodist Church and colleague of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Throughout the day, the attendees – a mixture of Executive Directors, CEOs, Board Chairs, and emerging nonprofit leaders – networked and shared best practices during breakout sessions centered on the 2020 Census, intersectional movements and community resilience.

“The Orange County Grantmakers Annual Summit is our opportunity to get out from behind our respective desks, enhance relationships between nonprofits and funders, and make space for some important and creative conversations,” said OCG Board Chair Sarah Middleton. “In 2019, OC Grantmakers will continue to explore opportunities to bring nonprofit and funder leaders together and provide education and learning opportunities.”

At the summit, OCG recognized deserving leaders through two awards: the Sister Regina Legacy Leader Award, named for Sister Regina Fox, the Executive Director of the Sisters of St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation, and the OC Grantmakers Emerging Leader Award. This year, OCG honored four individuals. Pamela Pimentel, Executive Director of MOMS OC and Kathleen Davis Bowman, recently retired Executive Director of WISEPlace, were both recognized as Legacy Leaders for their years of service and commitment to the Orange County community. Nithin Jilla, Program Director for the Tarsadia Foundation and Executive Director of Dreams for Schools, and Vattana Peong, Executive Director of Cambodian Family, were both honored as Emerging Leaders, having contributed substantially to their organizations and the community despite less than five years in their roles.

Summit sponsors included:

  • Title sponsor: Cox Communications
  • Silver Sponsors: PIMCO, Wells Fargo
  • Bronze Sponsors: Disneyland Resort, Edwards Lifesciences Foundation, Opus Community Foundation, Orange County Community Foundation, Pacific Life Foundation, and the Peter & Ginny Ueberroth Family Foundation

The OCG Nonprofit Leader Summit is made possible due to the support of all OCG members.

About Orange County Grantmakers

Orange County Grantmakers is a community of philanthropists committed to improving outcomes for Orange County and beyond. Our mission is to advance social impact by supporting, strengthening, and building adaptive leadership across our nonprofit and philanthropic community. 

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How do we build a compassionate and inclusive America in an age of distrust? WAJAHAT ALI knows from personal experience that when we come together to be the superheroes of our own stories, we can create honest social change. The beloved TED speaker has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic about our urgent issues—immigration, politics, parenthood—with boldness, hope, and humor. His memoir Go Back to Where You Came From, one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year, follows his life as a Muslim Pakistani-American on a surprising, emotional, and challenging quest for the good life. Iconic journalist Katie Couric says that “we are all so fortunate to be on the receiving end of his intellect, his humanity, and his heart.”

Wajahat Ali

“With wit and charm, Ali delivers a masterful meditation on growing up brown in America...he gives us a clear-eyed affirmation of the country America could be.” — Mara Gay, New York Times

Wajahat Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. The Daily Beast columnist and former New York Times writer, TED speaker, award-winning playwright, and Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims offers us his experiences of triumph over hardship as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of life’s impossible situations. From his experiences of Islamophobia growing up as a Muslim Pakistani-American to his two-year-old daughter’s liver cancer diagnosis, Wajahat is living proof that when we share our authentic stories, we build the America we wish to live in.”

In his memoir Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American, Wajahat teaches us how to create our own superhero origin story, invest in hope for the future of America, and enact real social change. The book was called “biting and funny and full of heart” by NPR. Representative Ilhan Omar called Wajahat’s work “hilarious” and “deeply moving”, and legendary writer Dave Eggers said it was the book he’d “been hoping Wajahat Ali would write for ten years—hilarious, stylistically fearless, deeply humane.”

Wajahat is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim-Americans in a post-9/11 world. He was the lead researcher and author for the Center for American Progress’s seminal report “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and served as a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America, where he told stories about communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media.

As Creative Director of Affinis Wajahat Labs, he worked to create social entrepreneurship initiatives to support and uplift marginalized communities. He also worked with the US State Department to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. Wajahat initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. For his work, he was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and recognized as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. 

He has given keynote speeches around the world such as TED, The Aspen Ideas Festival, Google, the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival. His writing appears regularly in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, the Washington Post, and The Guardian. He’s a Senior Fellow at The Western States Center and Auburn Seminary and co-host of Al Jazeera’s The Stream.