Orange County Laureate

A laureate is someone awarded for outstanding creative or intellectual achievement. These individuals are celebrated for the way they inspire and for their contributions to the community.


As a nonprofit organization dedicated to storytelling, we want to honor storytellers in our own backyard. Now is the time to nominate Orange County community members who inspire you, through storytelling, community engagement, or education (art, literature, music, history, science, technology).


  • Nomination Period – September 1 through October 31
  • Individuals must be a resident of Orange County.
  • Individuals must be over 18 years of age at the time of nomination.
  • Only nominations which meet all Terms and Conditions will be considered.


Incorporated in 1888, the City of Orange was founded on creativity. Money needed to beautify the towne square was raised through collaborative programs, festivals, and The Plaza: A Local Drama in Five Acts, which was written and performed by the community. One year later, Orange County was formed out of the southern third of Los Angeles County with those same storytelling roots embedded in its culture.


Today, Orange County, California, the sixth-most populous county in the nation, is rich with cultural heritage and literary arts. Our diverse cities are filled with writers, journalists, educators, and more, all with their own unique stories to share.


The annual 1888 Laureate program will provide us with the opportunity to recognize the great storytellers of our region while connecting, educating, and partnering with our community to elevate the voices of our neighbors.


To select our first annual Orange County Laureate, we’re asking the community to nominate the neighbors who inspire you. Vote at the 1888 Center in Old Towne Orange, or complete a nomination form at


1888 Center welcomes our 2019 Orange County Laureate judges–Samantha Dunn, Patrick Fuery, Julia Reinhard Lupton, Stephen J. Mexal, and Richard Stein–an inspiring panel of art advocates, authors, and educators.


Nominations for our inaugural Orange County Laureate begin on September 1, 2018. When the submission period closes on October 31, 2018, our judges will select one (1) Orange County resident who is dedicated to collaboration and storytelling and demonstrates a commitment to community engagement and education.


Samantha Dunn is an editor at Coast Magazine. Her debut novel, Failing Paris, was a finalist for the PEN Center Fiction Award. Her memoir, Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life rose to bestseller lists in Los Angeles and San Francisco and her second memoir, Faith in Carlos Gomez, has been in production at  Lifetime Television. Sam’s work is widely anthologized, including the short story collection, Women on the Edge: Writing from Los Angeles, which she co-edited. Her essays have appeared in numerous national publications such as O (Oprah) Magazine, Ms., and Salon. She teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers Program and at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.


Patrick Fuery is a graduate of Murdoch University, Australia, with a BA (Hons), MPhil and Phd in Comparative Literature. He has held posts at the University of London (Royal Holloway College), Sussex University, and the University of Newcastle (Australia). He is the author of eight books and has been translated into Chinese, Italian, French, and Korean. His most recent book is Madness and Cinema. His research interests include psychoanalysis, semiotics, literary and cultural theory, gender studies, film and visual studies, medicine and the arts. He is currently completing two books: a study on cultural disturbance and the sublime; and an edited collection on medicine, culture, and the arts.


Julia Reinhard Lupton is professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, where she directs Illuminations: The Chancellor’s Arts and Culture Initiative. As associate dean for research, she organizes public programming for UCI’s School of Humanities. She is the co-director of the UCI Shakespeare Center and the author or co-author of five books on Shakespeare. Lupton is a former Guggenheim Fellow.


Stephen J. Mexal is Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics at California State University, Fullerton.  In addition to numerous scholarly articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, he is the author of the book Reading for Liberalism: The Overland Monthly and the Writing of the Modern American West.


Richard Stein has served as executive director of Arts Orange County, our community’s nonprofit local arts agency, since 2008. Before that he transformed The Laguna Playhouse from a community theatre to a $7-million, internationally respected, professional theater during 17 years as its executive director. A California native, he arrived in Orange County in 1987 to manage the Grove Shakespeare Festival in Garden Grove. He holds degrees from Columbia and Syracuse universities, is a contributing writer to the national monthly American Theatre, and remains active as a stage director. He served as Orange County Supervisor Harriett Wieder’s appointee to the John Wayne Airport Arts Commission and twice was co-chairman of Orange County’s National Philanthropy Day celebration. Since 2009, Richard has served on the board of California Arts Advocates, a statewide organization promoting the interests of the arts community, including three years as its President. 

Nomination Form

Name of individual you are nominating

Details supporting the individual you are nominating

Name of person submitting the nomination

Email of person submitting the nomination

City of person submitting the nomination

Terms and Conditions

As a nonprofit organization dedicated to storytelling, we want to honor storytellers in our own backyard! Now is the time to nominate yourself or anyone you know that meets the following requirements:


  • Nomination Period – September 1 through October 31
  • Individuals must be a resident of Orange County.
  • Individuals must be over 18 years of age at the time of nomination.
  • Nominations must be individuals and not a company or organization.
  • Only nominations received by midnight (Pacific Standard Time) October 31st will be considered.
  • Nominations that are incomplete, are corrupted or submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
  • To ensure the quality and diversity of the selections, each submission is considered by several judges.
  • Finalists will be notified by email when they have been selected.
  • The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the judging process.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will not be contacted and no feedback or notes will be provided.
  • The 1888 Laureate opportunity is not open to employees of 1888 or members of the judging panel. Family members of any of the aforementioned are also not eligible.
  • Only nominations which meet all Terms and Conditions will be considered.

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