National Philanthropy Day Event Honors Newport Residents and Businesses

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Every November, hundreds of philanthropists, business people and volunteers come together at a special National Philanthropy Day Orange County luncheon to honor those who have demonstrated philanthropy and enhanced their communities and the world. This year marks the 35th Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards Program and Celebration, but instead of hosting the luncheon in a large ballroom, this year’s event will be a virtual one to be held on Thursday, November 19, 2020, from Noon to 1 p.m.

Produced by the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, National Philanthropy Day has become the most prominent philanthropic recognition event in Orange County, with more than 1,000 honorees since its inception in 1986.

The special guest speaker for this year’s ceremony is Wyland, an internationally renowned artist/conservationist and philanthropist whose primary gallery is in Laguna Beach.

The event host is Public Media Group of Southern California Producer and TV host Maria Hall-Brown. Sue and Ralph Stern, the 2019 Legacy Award honorees, return this year as Honorary Chairs.

Nella Webster O’Grady – Outstanding Philanthropist

This year, three Newport Beach residents and one Newport Beach organization are among the eight honorees. They are:


Observing elderly customers victimized by poor financial decisions in the banking industry prompted Nella Webster O’Grady to join the trust industry, where she has since served in senior management positions. Throughout her career, she has given her time and talents to numerous nonprofit organizations, including Girl Scouts of Orange County, Orange County United Way, Mission Plasticos, WHW, and Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business.


Ilona Martin – Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser

Following a successful career in fashion manufacturing, Ilona Martin’s life changed direction after Hoag Hospital saved her life from ovarian cancer and volunteering became her passion. She has lent her time and fundraising acumen to Hoag Hospital (including making a charitable bequest to nursing scholarships), Laguna Playhouse and Laguna College of Art and Design, where she took her first art class in 1984. Martin remains an accomplished impressionist artist.


Katherine Ahn Wallace’s mission, as OCCares founder and board chair, is to grow compassionate, philanthropic social entrepreneurs through Project Y, a high school club-based, student-driven youth social entrepreneurship program with curriculum supplanted by UC Irvine and Pepperdine University. OCCares hosts fundraisers for needy nonprofits and provides volunteer opportunities for students to fulfill service-learning credits at their schools.

Karina Tarsadia – Outstanding Youth


Sixteen-year-old Karina Tarsadia, a Sage Hill High School sophomore, was inspired through service trips to Cambodia, India and Africa, to help others. In 2019, she created, with nonprofit partners, the Backpack Project, which provided 5,500 backpacks with school supplies, groceries, haircuts and food to low-income families. This fall, Karina and her team are working directly with partners and schools to distribute 15,000 backpacks.

For further information on the Philanthropy Day event, visit

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