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Column: The Crowd: Newport Beach Foundation prepares the next generation to lead

Chris Delfs and Morgan Christen attend a Newport Beach Foundation event at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach.
(Photos courtesy of the Newport Beach Foundation)

There is a generational changing of the guard in the world of social action. Over the last decade, the amazing men and women who came into their own in the years following World War II embraced a new American model that included all members of society. Business men and women of the “Greatest Generation,” followed by their children, the Baby Boomers, got involved in all aspects of social welfare with the intent of raising up every level of American society.

Nonprofit charitable organizations were established and grew exponentially. Over the last half century they have become vital institutions, assisting the needs of the nation. As we approach 2020, many of the pioneers who transformed the world of nonprofit support are stepping down from positions of leadership. Will young Americans from the “Generation X” and the “Millennial” crowds embrace the legacy and take it forward?

Brandon McKennon, Susie McKibben (center) and Sarah Stapleton attend the Newport Beach Foundation event at the Balboa Bay Resort.
(Photo courtesy of the Newport Beach Foundation)

Recently, the Newport Beach Foundation addressed this subject during a confab at the Balboa Bay Resort created to celebrate future leadership and community organization. The Newport Beach Foundation, chaired by Joseph Stapleton, is a nonprofit philanthropic organization strengthening current and future community leadership through education, research and advocacy. Stapleton’s goal is to inspire the new breed of activism in the younger generations — making a connection between their personal goals, the quality of their family lives and the overall importance of a strong community connection.


“There is a generational divide between those who have created the legacy of Newport Beach and the next generation whose time is approaching to step up and serve,” Stapleton said. “It is our goal to give them a pathway and platform to build upon.”

To this end, Stapleton has adapted a platform known as the “Distinguished Citizen Program,” or DCP, originally created by former Newport Beach City Manager Homer Bludau. The program recognizes “Citizens of the Year” as role models meant to inspire others to take action and participate in community involvement.

A recent foundation gathering at the resort honored the The Literacy Project led by Sue Grant. The nonprofit literacy program is dedicated to helping children become self-sufficient, productive and contributing members of our society. In addition, the DCP program welcomed some 16 presenters from both the city of Newport Beach and a cross section of local business owners and professionals who have participated in and graduated from the DCP educational series. The four-week session connects individuals through activities and seminars with Newport Beach city leaders.

“This program isn’t only for the politico,” recent DCP program graduate Niki Stoller said. “It’s also for the people who want to come together and get involved to make Newport Beach better for our next generation.”


Some 150 guests arrived at the Balboa Bay Resort at dusk for a cocktail reception in a bayfront salon to congratulate the DCP grads, do a little networking and mingle with Newport city officials. Stapleton, joined by his wife, Sarah, welcomed the club’s chairman of the Board of Governors, John Wortmann and his wife, Anne.

Also in attendance was Bludau; Donald Wise, founder of the Newport Beach Men’s Luncheon; Peter Beldon, a surfing business entrepreneur; former Councilman Keith Curry and wife, Pam; yachtsman Wayne Harvey; Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs; Dennis Kuhl, chairman of the Los Angeles Angels and board member for The Literacy Project; interior designer Allison Olmstead; Chamber of Commerce chief Steve Rosansky; Visit Newport Beach President and CEO Gary Sherwin; and Farmers and Merchants Bank Vice President Kirk Van Atta.

Supporting the event were Joe Brenner, Anne Yelsey, Martin Yamamoto, Gary Williams Sr., Gary Williams Jr., Alexa Thomas, Tracy Schroeder, Sid Ramani, Tod Novak, Shaan Mehta, Kevin Maloney, Andrew Krongold, Paul Blank and Emily Bledstein.

To find out more about the Newport Beach Foundation, visit

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.