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Voice of Orange County

 P.O Box 10020
 Santa Ana, CA 92711
[P] (949) 584-4977
[F] --
[email protected]
Meg Waters [email protected]
 Printable 1 Page Summary
 Printable Profile
Organization DBA Voice of OC
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years No
Employer Identification Number 27-0550219 00000



Mission StatementMORE »

To consistently deliver fair, focused and thorough journalism on local government, quality of life and arts issues for Orange County communities.

To encourage civic engagement and civil discourse through our editorial pages, community forums and social channels.

Mission Statement

To consistently deliver fair, focused and thorough journalism on local government, quality of life and arts issues for Orange County communities.

To encourage civic engagement and civil discourse through our editorial pages, community forums and social channels.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year 2018
Projected Expenses $529,039.00
Projected Revenue $529,039.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • City Pages
  • Journalism

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

To consistently deliver fair, focused and thorough journalism on local government, quality of life and arts issues for Orange County communities.

To encourage civic engagement and civil discourse through our editorial pages, community forums and social channels.

Background Statement

In 2009 the traditional newspaper was in rapid decline and being replaced by minimalist news carefully crafted to not offend advertisers and powerful influencers. Investigative news, the vital instrument that holds government accountable to the citizens, was disappearing, especially on the local level.Veteran investigative reporter Norberto Santana believes that the people want to know what goes on in their cities, county, and special districts which control so much of their tax dollars. Santana saw an opportunity to create an online newsroom dedicated to quality investigative journalism focused on local government in Orange County. Backed by a handful of donors committed to ensuring transparency and accountability in government Voice of OC began with a small dedicated staff. In just a few years, Voice has become the first to break most important local government stories with reporting that is complete, balanced, insightful and relevant. Since then, Voice of OC has broken more local news headlines, shed the light on myriad important issues that otherwise would have been ignored. Voice has earned dozens of LA and Orange County press club awards. This year, Voice of OC was honored by the Los Angeles Press Club as the best online news organization in Southern California. We believe in real news and use only real facts, because the truth doesn’t play favorites.

Impact Statement

Voice of OC stands for professional and probing non-partisan news coverage — featuring institutional knowledge and perspective — in and about Orange County. We provide this through a cost-effective, nonprofit model deploying reporters across the county on a daily basis to cover local government and politics.

Voice of OC’s newsroom also focuses intensively on community arts & culture, covering visual music, visual arts, theater and dance. But not in a typical way. Voice's arts team also looks behind the curtain to find the gems in our very diverse community from the art of the quinceanera dress to the Persian New Year traditions. We also look at arts management and the deal-making within arts venues.

Our Opinion page continues to feature a broad array of contributors from all points of view who wish to use this platform to state their case.

For the past 10 years Voice of OC has had a huge impact on the most important issues of the day and has focused an impartial lens directly on Orange County.

Voice of OC…

Led the coverage of homelessness long before the county took notice

Revealed plans to sell the OC Fairgrounds

Discovered radiation leaks at San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

Protected the public’s right to know winning multiple public records requests

Broke the news of leadership change at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Needs Statement

1Identify ongoing funding sources for four city reporters at @$100,000 each or $400,000 recurring revenue 2Identify funding sources for new Civic Engagement Program “Find Your Voice OC” 3Identify ongoing funding sources for support staff including Development Director, Civic Engagement Editor and Digital Editor$150,000 annual 4Video, sound and studio equipment to expand capabilities in emerging online formats

CEO Statement

As the son of Cuban immigrants, I know first-hand what can happen to a country and a people if they let democracy slip through their fingers. I believe in democracy and I believe in the American system of government. But government left to its own devices and operating in secret is the enemy of a free people. That is why I am so passionate about quality investigative reporting. It is our job to be a watchdog on government on behalf of the citizens to make sure that they are informed on important policy decisions. Being a non-profit, we are not beholding to advertisers, we are supported by the community we serve.We are also committed to encouraging dialogue and civic engagement. We welcome and publish opinion pieces from both sides of issues and link them so that our readers can get a better picture from all points of view.We also run policy-related announcements. Our community involvement program “Find Your Voice OC” is open to any community or advocacy group. We teach people how to engage their government – how policy is made, how to make your voice heard and how to engage the media to spread your message. I believe that an engaged newsroom will lead to an engaged citizenry and ultimately will make our government accountable, efficient and open.That is why Voice of OC is here.

Board Chair Statement

The Voice of OC is important to the fair discussion of important issues in Orange County. The people of Orange County deserve a quality investigative news agency that covers the important issues from all sides and perspectives. Voice of OC gives us that kind of accountability.

Other Ways to Donate/Volunteer

Donations may be made by check, or online at Limited volunteer opportunities are occasionally available contact [email protected]

Geographic Area Served

Central Orange County
West Orange County
South Orange County
North Orange County
Voice of OC serves all of Orange County.

Organization Categories

  1. Public & Societal Benefit - Citizen Participation
  2. Education - Adult Education
  3. Community Improvement, Capacity Building - Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis



City Pages

Civic engagement begins with access. Access feeds transparency which allows the public to engage with and control their government. City Pages are an innovative, 21st-century local news solution bridging the gap between sanitized government web pages and traditional news coverage. They are a one stop location for journalist-written bios on officials including voting records, backers and supporters. They offer calendars, agendas, details on current projects, links to city-related archives, FPPC, public salaries, activist websites, public records and much more. Anyone who wants to engage city hall can determine the history, players and issues in real time before decisions are made.

Budget  $200,000
Category  Public, Society Benefit, General/Other Citizen Participation Programs
Population Served General/Unspecified Adults Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 

1)     Begin to construct metadata to populate the City Pages for all 34 cities in Orange County plus the County Government – 35 pages in all.

2)     Design a digital template that is expandable and populate it with data

3)     Start with pilot pages for the larger cities such as Anaheim, Santa Ana and Irvine to refine the design and content.

4)     Present the pilot concept to potential page sponsors.

5)     Assign reporters covering the cities to update the data on a regular basis.

Program Long-Term Success 

 When the public is ready to engage with local government they are often overwhelmed by the bureaucracy and politics already in place. They need better information, presented in layman’s terms, to help them understand not only the issues, but the players and their influencers that contribute to the process of policy decisions. 

1)     Increased citizen engagement leads to transparency and better communication between the people and their local government. Once citizens learn to engage at the local level, they are empowered to take on regional, state and even national issues and government. In short, if we want to change the national discussion, we need to start by empowering citizens of all political persuasions at the local level. Empower the public to be able to impact government in real time by giving them the background, context and tools to effectively step in to a policy debate early and influence outcomes.

2)     Create sponsorship opportunities at the hyper-local level to make City Pages financially sustainable long terms

3)     Create trust in the newsroom as the go-to source for timely, accurate and useful information on local government.

4)     Create a permanent, historic archive that is easy to access.

Program Success Monitored By 

We anticipate that City Pages will collectively be one of the most popular features of our overall coverage. Once launched, they will be a go-to tool for anyone interested in finding out what is going on in local government. We anticipate that they will also be an integral part of our ongoing civic training program Find Your Voice OC. Find Your Voice offers training by Voice staff on how to appropriately and effectively engage with local government – from public records requests to writing opinion pieces, speaking at meetings and many other important steps in impacting government. We eventually plan to allow the public to publish opinion pieces directly on City Pages to further public discourse.

·       Timely and Current. Each page will be updated by the city reporter as actions or news occurs. These pages will be the first stop for civic news, and reliably up-to-date.

·       Increased Engagement. We want more citizens to pay attention to how their government works. This will be manifested by increased public comments, increased voter turnout and better and more inclusive policy decisions.

·       More Trusted Newsroom. Well managed, factual and timely City Pages is part of a larger communications between the news gatherers and the news makers. We expect that this will create the opportunity for our reporters to work more closely with the community to bring them the facts they need to make or influence decisions.

Examples of Program Success  The program has not launched yet. 


Voice of OC is a non-profit online newsroom focused on daily coverage of Orange County’s city halls and government agencies. We are neither liberal or conservative; business or labor -- just real news, real facts and bringing both to our readers.

Since 2009, we’ve honed our approach and institutional knowledge, building up beat coverage around the county’s largest mega-agencies and key city halls like Anaheim, Santa Ana and Irvine. In 2018 we will work to expand coverage to all 34 cities in Orange County. We will also begin a regular series of podcasts on news topics and policy issues.

Budget  $1,500,000.00
Category  Public, Society Benefit, General/Other Citizen Participation Programs
Population Served General/Unspecified At-Risk Populations Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens
Program Short-Term Success 

Recruit and train three new reporters to be the best of the best.

Led by Editor Tracy Wood, one of the first women combat reporters in Vietnam and former head of investigative reporting for the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register, apprentice reporters at Voice of OC receive intense training in public affairs reporting, both through specialized training and daily municipal coverage.

From Public Records to budgets, campaign disclosures and donor research, they learn how to dig into city hall to uncover the stories that matter most to the local community. 

Our reporters live at city hall.

Though daily coverage and specialized training, they are repeatedly trained on public records access laws, open meeting laws as well as how courts and municipal agencies operate.

In addition to ethnic diversity, Voice of OC reporters also heavily focus on under covered municipal issues like poverty, homelessness, transportation, housing and water quality.


Program Long-Term Success 

Orange County is America’s largest metropolitan news desert, with no broadcast stations, no national public radio affiliate, and a newspaper that has spent the last decade on the brink of bankruptcy. That has left nearly 4 million people with little to no ability to impact their local government.

With a reporting staff of four, Voice of OC has already made a huge impact covering the nearly $7 billion county government and the largest cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana and Irvine because of our special beat-based structure.  

Right now, we have more reporters covering OC Civics than the Orange County Register. But that isn’t the standard to which we aspire. Long term we need more reporters to better cover all corners of the county, plus school districts, water districts and the myriad “shadow governments” that impact our lives daily.

Program Success Monitored By 

We will measure our long-term success through community engagement – more informed voters, more interaction between policy makers and the citizens they serve from the smallest public agency to the county. 

Steady growth in our subscriber base and social media followers is another indicator of success. In the past year we have doubled our subscribers and followers.  

Most important, by bringing transparency and accountability to government we will see more critical issues such as homelessness engage the public and the policy makers in meaningful dialogue and partnership to solve problems in ways that are inclusive and open.

What was once a news desert will show signs of life: less corruption and more solutions.

Examples of Program Success 
First Homeless shelter
New animal shelter
San Onofre shut down
Ethics commission
Veterans Museum
Sale of OC Fairgrounds halted 


CEO/Executive Director MR Norberto Santana Jr.
CEO Term Start Jan 2010
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Sonya Quick Digital Editor --
Norberto Santana Jr. Publisher --
Theresa Sears Civic Involvement Editor --
Meg Waters Development Director --
Tracy Wood Civic Editor --


Award Awarding Organization Year
multiple awards for reporting Los Angeles Press Club 2018
multiple awards over several years for reporting Orange County Press Club 2018
Online Journalist of the Year Norberto Santana Jr. Los Angeles Press Club 2018
Distinguished Journalist Norberto Santana Jr. Society of Professional Journalists 2017
multiple awards for reporting Orange County Press Club 2017


Affiliation Year
-- --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


We currently collaborate with the Los Angeles Times, providing content for their new OC Times Sunday Supplement. We are in a similar arrangement with KPCC  public radio, providing on air reporting and opinion on Orange County issue.s

Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 8
Number of Part Time Staff 2
Number of Volunteers 100
Number of Contract Staff 2
Staff Retention Rate % --
Staff Professional Development --

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 5
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 5
Male: 3
Not Specified --

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? --
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --

Risk Management Provisions

Nondiscrimination Policy --
Whistle Blower Policy --
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy --

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? --
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency -- --
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency -- --
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency -- --

Government Licenses


CEO Comments


Foundation Comments



Board Chair Mr. Wylie Aitken
Board Chair Company Affiliation Aitken, Aitken and Cohn
Board Chair Term Jan 2010 - Dec 2020
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Wylie Aitken Aitken, Aitken and Cohn Founder Voting
Ms. Colleen Clark Retired Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Additional Board Members and Affiliations

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 2
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: --
Other (if specified): 3 women over 60
Gender Female: 5
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths --
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria --
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy --
Percentage of Monetary Contributions --
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Board Orientation --

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments


Standing Committees



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Revenue $529,039.00
Projected Expenses $529,039.00
Form 990s

2016 990

2015 990

2014 990

2013 Form 990

2012 Form 990

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $514,607 $556,476 $587,327
Total Expenses $501,573 $464,544 $557,719

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Revenue By Revenue Source
Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$514,546 $556,412 $587,274
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- $0 $0
Individual Contributions -- -- --
Indirect Public Support -- $0 $0
Earned Revenue -- $0 $0
Investment Income, Net of Losses $61 $0 $0
Membership Dues -- $0 $0
Special Events -- $0 $0
Revenue In-Kind -- $0 $0
Other -- $64 $53

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Expense By Type
Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $326,426 $308,909 $382,487
Administration Expense $111,167 $92,104 $100,432
Fundraising Expense $63,980 $63,531 $74,800
Payments to Affiliates -- $0 $0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.03 1.20 1.05
Program Expense/Total Expenses 65% 66% 69%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 12% 11% 13%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $326,561 $301,721 $205,688
Current Assets $325,157 $299,649 $202,948
Long-Term Liabilities $353 $600 $0
Current Liabilities $16,854 $4,801 $1,300
Total Net Assets $309,354 $296,320 $204,388

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 19.29 62.41 156.11

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%
Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? --
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments

Summary financial data is per the audited financial statements and Form 990s and consultation with the organization. Foundation/corporate and individual contributions are combined under Foundation and Corporation Contributions.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.