By LOU PONSI     3/2/2022

After being held virtually in 2021, the 2022 Orange Catholic Foundation’s Conference on Business & Ethics returned as an in-person gathering, where three influential business leaders were celebrated for using their faith as the guiding principle in the day-to-day operation of their businesses.

The 19th annual conference, which drew 675 attendees from within the business, religious and academic communities, was held at the JW Marriott
in Anaheim on Feb. 18. In her opening remarks, Orange Catholic Foundation President and Executive Director Kimberly Jetton said the foundation’s mission is to serve Orange County’s Roman Catholic community through philanthropy and stewarding funds to ministries espousing their beliefs in loving service to God.

“As we have been conditioned to be in this world, but not of this world, what distinguishes us is how we live our lives, how we run our businesses, and how we care for the wellbeing of others,” Jetton said. “Our faith and our livelihood are not mutually exclusive she said. The purity of our faith determines the quality of our livelihood.”

Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange, presented the Bishop’s Award for Exemplary Business Integrity to Al Baldwin, chairman of the board of Baldwin & Sons, a real estate development and home building company, and Roger Kirwan, chairman and CEO of Woodside Credit, a classic and collector car financing firm.

Baldwin, whose company has developed more than 20,000 houses, has received multiple awards and commendations from civic, business and faith based organizations.

Those include the Distinguished Citizen Award from Los Angeles County Boy Scouts of America, National Association of Homebuilders Legend Award, City of Chula Vista Man of the Year Award.

“I was very fortunate in life,” said Baldwin, a father of four with 13 grandchildren. “I came from a family that had very strong religious values and I was able to go to Catholic grade schools and Catholic High School.”

“Following the 10 Commandments in all areas of life is paramount,” he said. “My feelings are if you never forgot those 10 rules that God gave Moses, you’ll make the right decisions,” Baldwin said. “If your underlying values are strong enough, you’ll make the right decision for your company, your employees, your family but most important, your God.”

Kirwan has chaired or served on a variety of committees and has been recognized for accomplishments in multiple arenas.

The New York native was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his alma mater, Xavier High School in New York. He received the Segerstrom Center of the Arts Chairman’s Cup as the Outstanding Volunteer in 2003 and 2020.

He served on the Board of Orange County Philharmonic Society and chaired the Major Gifts Campaign for building Santa Margarita Catholic High School.

“I’m honored to be here, and I thank God every day for what he’s given me,” Kirwan said.

The Gonzalez family, devout Catholics and owners of the supermarket chain, Northgate Market, received the Farmers & Merchants Bank Lifetime Achievement Award.

After the family’s shoe making business in Mexico burned down, Miguel and Teresa Gonzalez moved to the U.S. looking to start a life and provide for their 13 children.

Miguel and three of his sons came in 1970s to find work and then moved his whole family to Southern California 1976.

In 1980, Miguel and his son mortgaged their homes to obtain the money to purchase a small grocery store in downtown Anaheim.

The Gonzalez’s grew their business and today, there are 43 Northgate Market grocery stores in four counties with more than 6,000 employees.

All senior management meetings at Northgate being with prayer.


“The Gonzalez family runs Northgate market with the Belief of enriching their lives and the lives of their associates through their faith,” said Farmers & Merchants Bank CEO Daniel Walker, who presented the award to the family.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Luke Zamperini, son of Olympic and World War II hero Louis Zamperini and president of the Louis Zamperini Foundation.

Luke shared his father’s story as world class distance runner who participated in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

While serving in the U.S. Army Air Corp as a bombardier in a B-24 during World War II, Zamperini was on a search and rescue mission when his plane malfunctioned and crashed into the ocean.

He ended up on a Japanese occupied Marshall Islands and was beaten and tortured while a prisoner of war.

Zamperini was released after the war but suffered from PTSD and battled alcoholism.

He became a Christian and went on to work with at-risk youth.

Zamperini’s life was chronicled in the book and movie “Unbroken.”

Today, the Unbroken Curriculum is taught in schools to students to examine their own challenges through the lens of Zamperini’s life.

The 2022 conference was dedicated to the memory of Hank Evers, who died of cancer Oct. 4, 2021, at age 69.

Evers worked for 10 years with the Diocese of Orange and the Orange Catholic Foundation, where his efforts with the conference and other campaigns helped raise millions of dollars underserved students.

“Hank, I’m sure you are looking down on us right now and I hope you approve of what we are carrying on today in your memory,” said Conference co-chair Randy Redwitz,

who presented an award to the family in recognition of his contributions.
The foundation’s next major event, “A Night of Country Under the Stars,” takes place April 2 at Christ Cathedral.

The event features a Mass celebrated Bishop Vann, followed by a performance by Gary LeVox, lead vocalist of Rascal Flatts.

For more information, please visit orangecatholicfoundation.org