Charity Spotlight: Junior League of OC Celebrates 60 Years of Service

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L to R: Sara Young, Carla Dillon, Maria de Vera-Suarez
L to R: Sara Young, Carla Dillon, Maria de Vera-Suarez

The Junior League of Orange County, based in Newport Beach, recently held its 60th annual meeting to acknowledge six decades of creating significant and lasting change in the community, announce a new slate of leaders and Board members, and honor the contributions of outstanding members.

The agenda also called for sharing a vision for the future of the nonprofit and presenting scholarships to deserving high school seniors.

Outgoing President Dr. Carla Dillon introduced Sara Young, who will serve as president for the 2016-2017 year. Young is a director in the special education department in a local school district, and a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Education with specialization in Educational Policy and Social Context.

“As we continue to find a meaningful place in the Orange County landscape, we are reframing our focus from “project-driven” to “issue-driven,” said Young. “After significant conversations with members and our community about the highest areas of need in our area, and how we can respond to these needs within the context of larger strategic plan, the JLOCC has committed to focusing on foster youth and human trafficking.”

The organization’s signature project is the Samueli Academy, a new residential charter high school for foster youth established in Santa Ana by the Orangewood Children’s Foundation. JLOCC has donated $500,000 in support of the Academy.

Other community projects and initiatives include the Bear Hugs and Bear Necessities Program, Junior League Juniors and Kids in the Kitchen, working with Blind Children’s Learning Center and Grandma’s House of Hope, and the Human Trafficking Awareness and Education campaign.

The 2016-2017 Board of Directors includes Sara Young, President; Emma Piacentini, Executive Vice President; Jennifer Gerstner, Secretary; Laurel Murray,

Treasurer; Maria de Vera-Suarez, President-Elect; Suzanne Lee, Nominating Director; Nancy Ringman, Sustaining Member Director; Jennifer Jackson, Director at Large, Active; Sally Lawrence, Director at Large; and Anne McNiel, Board Assistant.

Over the years, JLOCC has had a major impact in Orange County, playing a key role in founding Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Child Abuse Services Team (CAST), Volunteer Center Orange County (now OneOC), and the Delhi Center, among other lasting programs, and has been actively involved with other organizations including the Orangewood Foundation.

The JLOCC is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. JLOCC reaches out to women of all races, religions and national origins who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism. The JLOCC began as The Newport Harbor Service League in 1956, and is commemorating its 60th anniversary in 2016.

For more information about JLOCC, its community partners or how to become a member, please visit


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