A Season of Possibility with Marti Sullivan

A Season of Possibility with Marti Sullivan

A Season of Possibility with Marti Sullivan by: S. Benjamins & Company, Inc.

Over the past year I have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know and support Reimagine OC and their visionary CEO, Glenn Motola. They recently hosted an evening to highlight the new 30,000 square foot state-of-the-art-facility and fitness center in Santa Ana. There I met Marti Sullivan who leads their Fund Development efforts and inspires us to give to participants in our community with developmental disabilities.
I asked Marti to share more about her work in philanthropy, what led her to Reimagine and how we can support this incredible mission.

Sherry: Tell me about what drew you into the nonprofit world early in your career?

Marti: I actually started off in sales as an account executive for a cosmetic company, Estee Lauder and represented them in eight states. I moved to California for another company and learned that I was good at selling products and services. I started volunteering for the San Francisco Symphony and the first funding effort was to help sell advertising for a children’s holiday event program book. I then wrote grants for my kids’ school, which moved me further into selling the intangible. It was wonderfully challenging and I discovered what a giving philanthropic community we had in the Bay Area.

I was learning about what it meant to be “donor centered” and learned the importance of communicating what funds were to be used for and how in the longer term they contributed to progress and those we served. What kept me engaged was that our funds were for a very important need and not for ourselves. The idea of meeting a need and offering benefits to good causes captured my heart.

Sherry: Has philanthropy changed over the years? What is the future challenge?

Marti: Yes, it has changed, in so many ways for the better, thanks to technology! When I first started in 1987, it was with my symphony event and then my kid’s school, which was the one of the only ones in the Bay Area without a gym. I learned that large capital projects captured the interest and generosity of our parents at the school. We had an enormous response from the families and giving was at all different levels. From that experience, many increased their giving and volunteering; we built a relationship over time and remained connected.

Today, engagement is across a diverse mix of individuals thanks to the internet, and that is good. The pandemic highlighted that remote engagement is not only possible, it is effective! The challenge, however is that our operating costs, salaries and administrative costs keep going up. Just keeping the lights on is more of a challenge today and raising funds for operations is less enticing to some.

Peer to peer crowd funding is also a new and expanding trend. It is less relationship building and more transactional in responsive to an immediate need. The good news is that this opens the door to more donors and gives everyone a chance to give. Converting initial transactions to long-term relationships requires significantly new and different cultivation strategies. Our overall goal at Reimagine is to find ways to engage our donors so that they get to know us well and we get to understand what matters most to them. We see this as a two way street. We get to know them and they get to know us too.

Sherry: Why is mentoring new talent into the nonprofit world important to you?

Marti: I care about developing others in philanthropy. Over the many years I have been in this work I can reflect on 8 or 10 people that I have mentored over the years who are now heads of Development. It feels great to know I have had that kind of impact.

There are many stories of individuals who have started with and remain in this work. A young colleague, who is now the CEO of a similar agency to Reimagine in the Bay Area, started with my development team over fifteen years ago and over time got a degree in Public Health. She has dedicated herself to human services leadership. She, like many, have developed their career in non-profit administration, and is a stronger CEO with her experience in fundraising and communications. It has been so rewarding to watch her and others grow.

Sherry: How would those that you mentored describe you?

Marti: I think they would say I am flexible and fluid. The work is all encompassing at times and I want them to enjoy the work and value their family time too. I believe in professional development and career growth. I know they would say I value that for them.

I also believe in giving talented people performance reviews and honest feedback. In one situation, I gave my direct report eleven things I felt she could work on and we created a plan to do so over time. Surprisingly this was appreciated and became part of our plan to continuously improve. She is now a consultant working with non-profits on data management.

Sherry: As you look ahead at Reimagine, what is your goal for 2022?

Marti: I am excited about establishing a program that can be adjusted over time once we see results and eventually expand. I can see a broad suite of programs for our participants, family members and volunteers. We want a series of seasonal campaigns that offer regular ebb and flow so that we can pace our work and track our results. I also want to meet people where they are and get to know them. Personal relationships matter in this New Year and in our approach to our community. Once we have a program that we can review and reflect upon we can more effectively look at year two and plan for exciting enhancements.

Our holiday campaign is called the Season of Possibility and it is starting now through the end of the year. We will be reaching out in various ways for others to get to know us and our work and learn ways that they can support us. The first year is our baseline and we will build from that.

Sherry: Tell us about Reimagine OC?

Marti: Reimagine is an extraordinary community, a wonderful history of seventy plus years. We are continuing our innovative programming at our new state-of-the-art campus in Santa Ana. Our participants have the runway and support to achieve what we all want in life – friends, community, love relationships, a home and for some, a job that leads to a career. We deliver the support to them that allows them to achieve those things.

We partnered with and are grateful to Goodwill Industries who previously owned the space in Santa Ana, with the Rogers A. Severson Fitness Center that is now a fully adaptive center.

Sherry: How can the OC community get involved in supporting Reimagine?

Marti: Anyone in our community can use our fitness center and visit our facility. We want our neighbors to come and get to know us. In the New Year we will be establishing a volunteer program for individuals and groups. We will have workout buddies and host participant after-hours recreational events. Some of our participants will be part of a workforce development program and volunteers will help us execute on this too.

You ask, “How can you help during Reimagine’s Season of Possibility?” Make Reimagine one of your charities of choice this year!

Tell your networks about our innovative programs for people with developmental disabilities

Schedule a visit at our new state of the art Santa Ana campus, complete with an adaptive fitness center.

Follow us on Social Media on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Volunteer your time with us as a workout buddy, a dinner club sous-chef, or a dance club DJ!

Donate to the Season of Possibility, which makes a huge difference for our participants all year long.

For more information about programming or to donate, visit https://reimagineoc.org

To schedule a tour or learn more about volunteering, contact Marti Sullivan, marti@reimagineoc.org

Celebrating Pride at Reimagine

Celebrating Pride at Reimagine

Celebrating Pride at Reimagine

By Dr. Glenn Motola, PSY.D.

At Reimagine, it’s imperative that our current and future participants know that they have a safe place to turn to, no matter how they identify, and we are dedicated to welcoming and serving everyone. People with disabilities are as diverse as the general population, and this includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

As the leader of this organization, I am proud to provide a safe space for our participants and their families to feel comfortable to be themselves. My husband and I have seen firsthand how hard it can be to find a community that embraces our children as full individuals, and I always keep that top of mind as we foster an inclusive culture at Reimagine.

It can be difficult to navigate access to disability services, and at Reimagine, we know that any additional barrier to services, whether real or perceived, can discourage a potential participant from reaching out for help. We want our current and future participants, their families, and our staff to know that Reimagine supports the LGBTQIA+ community wholeheartedly. We are part of this community and if you are too, we are here and delighted to serve you.

Our mission is to relentlessly pursue possibilities throughout the lifespan of every person with disabilities, and our vision is to create a world in which all people with disabilities have equal opportunities to thrive in healthy, inclusive communities. Although not spoken of enough, there is a large, proud community of individuals who in addition to being disabled, are also fighting issues of equality and acceptance when it comes to their gender identity and sexual orientation. We honor every person and celebrate them at Reimagine.

The LGBTQIA+ community, like the disabilities community, has faced a history of misunderstanding, as well as separation from their community and limited access to building a full life. These shared histories have overlapped for some, and when both communities come together, it makes Pride Month all the more meaningful for our Reimagine family to celebrate.

Reimagine is grateful for everything that Pride and the month of June represents, not only for the impact on the LGBTQIA+ community, but for its general messages of inclusion and celebration of living life to the fullest, proudly. We know that our staff, our participants, and our Reimagine families live this pride on a daily basis, and we will always take every opportunity to celebrate this important month, and all that it stands for.





Reimagine is pleased to announce the addition of Alex Cochran, a Vice President at Hirtle Callaghan, a national firm that serves as an investment office for non-profits and families, to its Board of Directors. Mr. Cochran brings nearly 15 years of expertise as a trusted advisor to endowments, foundations, and philanthropic families.

“I am thrilled to join the Reimagine Board of Directors as we embark on the next phase of our journey to support the lives of individuals with disabilities throughout Orange County. We have built a world-class facility that is focused on enriching the lives of individuals who are often overlooked. I look forward to building a community that can grow and provide an invaluable service to individuals and families living with disabilities,” said Cochran.

Mr. Cochran is a graduate of Chapman University and lives in Costa Mesa with his wife and two children.

Learning is Forever

Learning is Forever

Learning is Forever and For All of Us  

By Marsalee Malatesta, Chief of Services, Health and Wellness, Reimagine

On the surface, people with disabilities may seem completely different than people without disabilities. But dive deeper, and you’ll find that people with disabilities are just like you and me in many ways. They need to connect, to maintain relationships and to be nurtured physically, mentally and emotionally. And after more than 20 years of working at Reimagine, I’m still learning daily, but here’s what I’m certain of: We need each other to keep developing into our best selves.

That desire to keep learning is a big part of being able to successfully work with people with disabilities. You have to believe in the value of what you’re teaching them, and they have to believe you want to be there for them. You must have an innate passion for the field and empathy to be able to validate people with disabilities and understand their situations. You need to be all in.

The rewards of this work are doled out in life-changing moments. After a nine-year hiatus from full-time work at Reimagine, I returned to the Orange campus as Program Director. A participant I’d worked with back in 1997 came in for her regular therapies and recognized me. She was elated and so was I. She said I had saved her life – the ultimate expression of gratitude.

Just a few weeks ago, one of my staff had a breakthrough with a participant, who in her late forties, used a new app on her tablet to learn to say the “th” sound, after struggling to pronounce it her entire life. She is still learning, and so are we.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the disruption and lingering uncertainty, we are still making gains. As long as we all stay open to learning, are ready to adapt and stay connected, Reimagine will continue helping participants reach their full potential.

Chief of Services, Marsalee Malatesta oversees day programs and outpatient clinical services for adults with intellectual, developmental and neurological disabilities. Her teams provide social service intervention, nursing intervention plus physical, speech and occupational therapies.



A message from Dr. Glenn Motola, PSY.D., CEO, Reimagine

While we’re ready to breathe a sigh of relief for the end of this year and make a fresh start, I want to acknowledge all the good we accomplished together at Reimagine in 2020.

COVID-19 disrupted our in-person services and programming, which presented innumerable challenges to the Reimagine community and our participants. But in the face of such unexpected circumstances, we came together to make the quick and necessary adjustments to continue serving our participants safely. During this difficult year, Reimagine:

  • Transitioned to online programming to support participants’ physical and mental wellness
  • Began care package deliveries containing at-home Reimagine activities
  • Established safe, appointment-based in-person physical, occupational and speech therapies
  • Safety precautions and measures are in place to continue to provide in person services forchildren
  • Prepared our state-of-the-art Reimagine building to open in 2021

I am immensely grateful for and inspired by the dedication of the Reimagine staff, our participants and our caregivers. It takes focus and determination to fight through the obstacles that were placed in our path this year. But you did it, you’re still doing it, and this is what gives me hope for 2021. I am equally thankful for our strong community of friends and donors who were integral in making this year a success when the odds were stacked against us.

While 2021 will be full of its own challenges as we work our way toward in-person care, we are more than ready to take them on. The creativity and commitment of our staff continues to motivate us as a whole to keep striving to unlock new possibilities.

Such hopeful determination, put to work in our new building in Santa Ana, will be a powerful combination in helping participants reach new heights in learning and development. The Santa Ana location features a world-class adapted fitness center for participants of all abilities and an array of advanced programming designed for optimal personalized learning. To help ensure the safety of participants and staff, we’ve also installed touchless amenities, UV lighting sanitation for infection control and hourly disinfectant fogging to enhance already stringent COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols.

Your vital support has allowed us to continue our pursuit of the possible. If you would like to make a tax-deductible gift yet this year, or invite a friend to support Reimagine, our Pursuing Possibilities 2020 campaign is still active.

We so appreciate your consideration. Your contribution will help champion a successful start to 2021 for the entire Reimagine community.

All the best for a safe, healthy and happy holiday season,