7 People Making a Difference in Orange County

Tina Borgatta and Kristen Schott | November 8, 2016 | Feature Features

The organizations and leaders driving our philanthropic scene right now.
BRAVO! CHOC Follies founder Gloria Zigner

The Society Maven
A Zignature Event

Anyone who’s been a part of O.C.’s social scene for any length of time knows of Gloria Zigner. Over the course of some three decades, the longtime society columnist and public relations maven established herself as an innovator and a great connector. Perhaps the best example of that is the CHOC Follies—the annual Broadway-style spoof that’s netted almost $8 million for the pediatric medical center and celebrates its 20th anniversary with its next production, staged March 30 to April 1 at Orange Coast College’s Robert B. Moore Theatre. The production involves months of set-planning and costume design, scriptwriting and, of course, rehearsals. It’s the only time you’ll see the likes of Sandy Segerstrom Daniels and Julia Argyros singing and dancing before an audience. (Zigner once persuaded Dick Van Dyke to join the cast.) “I have been thrilled and overjoyed to have worked with the hundreds of people in the community,” says Zigner, who will retire as executive producer after this next show—titled CHOC Around the Clock Tonight. Take a bow! Sponsorships from $10,000, tickets from $50, choc.org

Living Legends
The Conscious Couple

PIMCO founder Bill Gross and wife Sue have a far-reaching legacy of giving. One of the Laguna Beach couple’s recent efforts: They committed $40 million to found a nursing school at UCI. It’s the largest single donation in the university’s 50-year history. It’s quite significant, says Chancellor Howard Gillman: “As our society ages, the need for nurses is urgent.” The current UCI program has graduated 400 students over the last decade; with the new funds, yearly enrollment is expected to grow, and the number of teacher grads should double. A new building will also be constructed to house the school by 2020. But the institution is no stranger to their generosity: In 2006, they gave $10 million (plus another $3 million in later years) to create a stem cell research center. (They were later awarded the UCI Medal.) They also gifted $10 million to Mission Hospital in Laguna (2014), and Bill sold a stamp collection and donated the proceeds to the Smithsonian Museum (2009). Oh, and they’re the largest donors to Doctors Without Borders, with a $30 million tally. uci.edu

Number Crunch

$26 Million

That’s how much the American Heart Association’s O.C. Chapter has raised in the last 10 years—money that’s helped fund programs promoting cardiovascular health and research. But the nonprofit’s interest in the latter goes back even further. Since 1973, it’s provided UCI with more than $13 million for research projects. heart.org/orangecounty


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