Feb 3, 2010 | Newsroom

Children & Families Commission of Orange County Honors 10 People Making a Difference in the Lives of Young Children

IRVINE, CA –The Children & Families Commission of Orange County today announced it will commemorate its 10th anniversary by paying tribute to 10 extraordinary OrangeCounty residents whose compassion and dedication have profoundly changed children’s lives.

Beginning in February and ending in November, the campaign will honor “10 People Making a Difference in the Lives of Young Children,” naming a different Agent of Change each month. The campaign will feature advertisements thanking the honorees, a brief video highlighting each individual’s work as well as an event honoring all 10 honorees later this year.

The first honoree is Joseph H. Donnelly, director of the For OC Kids Neurodevelopment Center in Orange.

“For the past 10 years the Children & Families Commission of Orange County has been able to help thousands of children and their families as a result of amazing, caring, talented individuals,” said Michael Ruane, the Commission’s executive director. “The Agents of Change campaign is our way of publicly acknowledging their tireless efforts to help young children start off on a path to lifelong good health, happiness and success.”

First Honoree: Dr. Joseph H. Donnelly

The Commission has named Dr. Joseph H. Donnelly as Orange County’s first Agent of Change. As a pediatric neurologist and the director of the For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center in Orange, Dr. Donnelly provides care to children from birth through age 5 and their families who face developmental, behavioral or learning challenges. Dr. Donnelly said his proudest moments occur when he watches children achieve health and developmental milestones that at one point may have seemed out of reach. As just one example, he said one such moment came when he was invited to attend the high school graduation of a boy with intractable seizures and tuberous sclerosis. “This young man was understandably proud to receive his diploma, and to have played even a small part in helping him reach that milestone was gratifying beyond words,” Dr. Donnelly said.

Dr. Donnelly said he tries to guide his work and that of the center by recalling a quote of Dr. Francis Peabody, who in 1925 told a classroom of medical students, “… the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” According to Dr. Donnelly, “The Children & Families Commission of Orange County has enabled the CHOC/UCI Neurodevelopmental Programs to exist and has made all the difference.”

10 honorees will be profiled in the “Agents of Change” campaign that will be featured in OC Family Magazine and online at


About Children & Families Commission of OrangeCounty: The Children & Families Commission of Orange County was founded in February 2000. Through the allocation of Proposition 10 funds, the Commission supplies grants to ensure that all Orange County children from birth to age 5 have every opportunity possible to “Grow Up Great.” The grants help provide Orange County families access to prenatal care, early literacy programs, health screenings, safety net resources, dental clinics and other vital programs and services.

About For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center: For OC Kids is a collaborative project between Children’s Hospital of Orange County and the University of California, Irvine Department of Pediatrics to help children from birth through age 5 with developmental issues. The center is dedicated to the earliest diagnosis and treatment of autism, ADHD and other developmental disorders, to support, educate and advocate for children and their families and to train professionals for the future. The center uses a team approach to provide family centered care and help children reach their potential. To learn more, go to

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