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Orange County United Way’s Tocqueville Society Recognizes Outstanding Philanthropists and Volunteers

IRVINE, CA – Orange County United Way recently honored several members of its Tocqueville Society, a prominent group of individuals recognized for their extraordinary philanthropic efforts in support of United Way’s mission to improve the lives of local residents.

The reception, hosted in the elegant Newport Coast home of Shelley Thunen with fiancé E.T. Southard, created an inviting backdrop for an intimate gathering of both long-time supporters as well as new members of the Tocqueville Society. 

Nella Webster O’Grady of Palo Capital was honored as “Philanthropist of the Year” for her generosity, spirit of volunteerism and more than a decade of service to the organization. O’Grady was a member of United Way’s Board of Directors for nine years, served as Founding Member of the Women’s Philanthropy Fund, and has participated in several other affinity groups and volunteer committees over the years.

Two other outstanding individuals – Suzanne Fradette of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Jackie Kelley of Ernst & Young – were named “Volunteers of the Year” for donating their time and talents to advancing United Way’s mission. The two serve as members of United Way’s Board of Directors and co-chairs of the organization’s Women’s Philanthropy Fund.

In addition, United Way honored Western Digital Corporation for their tremendous commitment to the organization’s mission. “The people at Western Digital exemplify the spirit of philanthropy and volunteerism. We are incredibly grateful for their ongoing support and passion to create a stronger community,” said Orange County United Way President and CEO Max Gardner.

During the reception, guests enjoyed a short introduction from Mike Learakos of Katella Grill, an active partner with United Way in the Waste Not OC collaborative. Waste Not OC is a food recovery and distribution coalition that supplies thousands of children and families with nutritious food options that would have otherwise gone to waste. This is a collaborative dedicated to increasing the number of healthy youth in Orange County, addressing the health goal outlined in the community-wide strategic plan.

“For many of our Tocqueville Society members, it’s not about just writing a check. It’s an opportunity to have a more influential, hands-on role in creating a better future for Orange County residents. Programs like Waste Not OC are a prime example of the innovative and exciting work we’re doing to drive change,” concluded Gardner.

For more information, or to join Orange County United Way’s Tocqueville Society, please contact Lori Burrill at 949.263.6158 or lorib@unitedwayoc.org, or visit the Orange County United Way website.


Michael Suydam
21Strat 949.981.5008, mike@21strat.com

Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Orange County United Way 949.263.6176, katheriner@unitedwayoc.org


Orange County United Way’s Tocqueville Society, formed in March 1984, deepens individual understanding, commitment, and support of United Way’s work in the local community. It is focused on advancing the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. The international Tocqueville Society recognizes more than 27,000 philanthropic leaders around the world who devote time and talent to raise more than $550 million globally, to tackle some of society’s most serious issues.

Since 1924, Orange County United Way has been working to improve lives and strengthen our community by mobilizing the caring power of Orange County and focusing on the building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Income, Health and Housing. By investing in Orange County children, families and individuals, we help them create pathways to self-sufficient lives. In short, we help people help themselves. Through our 10-year community-wide action plan, “FACE 2024” (an acronym forFund, Advocate, Collaborate, Educate), we collaborate with local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals to make a long-term measurable difference in the lives of local individuals and families. To learn more or to join our movement, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.

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