By Lary Irish     7/29/2020

“Change is the law of life,” John F. Kennedy once said. “And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” 

Benjamin Franklin was more blunt on the subject of change: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” 

The diocese’s Strategic Plan, a multi-year mission to address the opportunities and challenges facing Orange County’s Catholic community, is rooted in change. One of the plan’s five key pillars, which focuses on stewardship and finance, has led to changes to the Orange Catholic Foundation, the philanthropic and fundraising arm of the diocese. After a thoughtful discernment and in consultation with a number of organizations and committees from both inside and outside of the diocese, Bishop Kevin W. Vann decided to bring in new leadership to the foundation by appointing a new board.  

“Bishop Vann has three key initiatives,” says Tom Greeley, who chairs the OCF’s new board. “Hiring a new permanent executive director for OCF, handing off the Pastoral Services Appeal from the Foundation to the Diocese and developing an overall philanthropic strategic financial plan focused on raising funds, obtaining grants, promoting gifting through wills and trusts, and specific fund raising for parishes and schools.” 

The new board met for the first time on June 19. “We accomplished two tasks during the meeting,” Greeley says. “We appointed Jim Normandin as interim executive director – he’s a very seasoned philanthropy executive with an impressive resume – and we’ve launched a search for a permanent one.” 

Normandin spent 32 years with the Memorial Medical Center Foundation, the last 10 years as its president. During his term, support granted to the medical center’s operations exceeded $94 million. Co-founder of the American Institute for Philanthropic Studies, Normandin is a member of the Orange Coast Estate Planning and Trust Council, the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners and the Planned Giving Roundtable of Orange County. 

Greeley worked for a number of strategic planning and financial consulting firms, eventually retiring as a partner at Grant Thornton, LLP. A diocese volunteer for many years, he chaired the Strategy Task Force, a group that, along with input from hundreds of key stakeholders across the Diocese, helped develop the framework for the first ever diocesan-wide strategic plan, released in November 2018.  

The Orange Catholic Foundation has engaged a search firm to identify qualified candidates for a permanent executive director. “I anticipate that we’ll have one identified, who will accept the job, within three months,” Greeley says.  

He also recognized the efforts of the OCF’s former leadership: “They were deeply committed to the mission, and they worked very hard to raise the needed funds – particularly the ‘For Christ Forever Capital Campaign’ and the related follow-up campaigns. That was really successful, and they should be highly commended.” 

Greeley notes that the transfer of the Pastoral Services Appeal from the Orange Catholic Foundation to the Diocese will help free up the OCF to do what it’s done so well for years. “The foundation has always done a great job, for example, with wills and estates, obtaining grants, and so forth,” he says. “And that’s definitely going to continue. My understanding is that great progress has been made in the PSA transition to the diocese with the support of the Pastors.” 

Formulating the Orange Catholic Foundation’s overall financial strategic plan will begin in earnest once a new permanent executive director is in place, Greeley notes. “Everything is on track right now, since the changes were implemented,” he says. “The main issue is that we need to have specific targets in terms of funds to be raised for the various ministries, the largest one being the schools.” 

The new OCF board is aware that those in greatest need can be best helped by the foundation, something that’s always been a key priority. “As Orange County’s population has grown through the years, a significant variance has developed in terms of income,” Greeley says. “The Foundation will continue to assist those parishes and Catholic schools in lower-income areas.”  

Continued transparency in communication and financial reporting will play a key role in the Orange Catholic Foundation’s emerging strategic plan. The OCF has been and will remain an independent fiduciary board, focused on adhering to donor intent for all endowments and funds, and its decisions will align with the needs and priorities of the diocese.  

“We at the foundation must communicate to everyone in the diocese the needs and priorities, ‘This is what we’re doing. And here’s how we’re doing it.’  And here is the help we need from you and your generous gifts.’ Everything will be out in front and available, so others can see what’s going on – and question it if need be,” Greeley says. “Collaboration is so important. There are so many ministries in the diocese, and we’re all working together to achieve a common good.”