Citizen Of The Year Award

The Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce presents two categories of awards each year to deserving citizens of Newport Beach.

The Newport Beach Citizen of the Year Award is presented to that individual who best represents the qualities each of us admire and respect among our friends, neighbors and associates.

It’s not given so much for achievement, as it is for helping others achieve.

It’s not given for outstanding single effort, as much as for long-term, continuing commitment to the community.

It’s not given for position, public or private, as it is for “being there” when there is service called for.

It’s not given so much for being a member, or for paying dues, or for financial contribution, as it is for being the one everybody wants on the Committee when there’s a job to be done.

It’s for the one who says, “Sure – I’ll help – what do we need to do?” And then does it.

And it’s for the one who says, “Newport Beach is my home – and my life – and its future and mine are the same – and whatever I can do to make them better, I will do.


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Citizen of the Year
Walt Howald

About Walt Howald

Walt was born in Wichita, Kansas on March 24, 1939. After arriving in Newport Beach, he attended Newport Elementary School and Horace Ensign Middle School. After graduating from Newport Harbor High School in 1957 (where he played tennis, football and basketball) and served as class representative – Win with Walt, he studied Economics and English at UCLA, where he was President of the Senior Class and ex officio on the UC Board of Regents. During his time, he held 17 different jobs to pay for tuition, including commercial fisherman, City of Newport Beach employee trash collector and as an assistant to a professor at the UCLA Education Department. He also worked partial athletic scholarship jobs including working in the student union bookstore.

Walt earned his law degree from the UCLA School of Law and graduated in the top 20% of his class. Since then, he has been a practicing attorney for over 50 years in Orange County and California and has been active on various local Bar Association committees.

He served on the City of Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission for 8 years as member and Chair, focusing on the Dog Park, Balboa Island trees and benches and more. He has served on the Executive Committee for the Friends of OASIS, serving in roles including Vice President of Civic Affairs, Development and Fundraising, Chair of the Scholarship Committee, Director of Advocates and Co-chair of the Gala Opening. He has been the Treasurer and Board Member of Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter (FONBAS), City of Newport Beach Library Trustee Board and Co-Chair of the Distinguished Speakers, Original Witte Lectures.
Additional roles include serving as Director of the Foundation Desert Community College, Executive Director of the Bakersfield College Foundation and Executive Committee Member of the Friends of Newport Coast.
At Coast Community College District, he has been elected to 7 four-years terms (30 years), which includes OCC, Golden West, Coastline and KOCE. Coastline was the first community college in Newport Beach.
He has served as Trustee of both the California Association Community College Board of Trustees and American Association of Community Colleges, as well as Chair of the American Association of Community College Diversity Committee.

Walt is parent of two children and married to Karen for 17 years with a blended family of 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren. He was a Boy Scout (Troop 17) where he earned the status of Life Scout, Order of the Arrow, served as Cub Master of the Corona del Mar Cub Scout Pack for 3 years. Walt attended the 1953 Boy Scout Jamboree here in Newport Beach. He also enjoys body and board surfing, stamp collecting, travel, fishing…and of course, his grandchildren.

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Citizen of the Year
Joe Stapleton

About Joe Stapleton

Joe’s current and past involvement in the community of Newport Beach is quite extensive.

Currently, he serves as a member of the Finance Committee for the City of Newport Beach and is Chairman of the Board of the Newport Beach Foundation. He also serves on more than a dozen boards of directors for community and civic organizations including The Pacific Club, New Majority Orange County, Newport Beach & Company, Literacy Project, Speak Up Newport, OC Cats (University of Arizona Alumni Association), The Pacific Arts Foundation, Corona del Mar Residence Association, Lott Trophy and International Executive Council. He is also on the Executive Board of the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.


Other past service includes:

  • Harbor Commissioner – City of Newport Beach 2013-2017
  • Charter Update Committee Member – City of Newport Beach 2012
  • Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce – Board of Directors – Chairman of the Board (Past)
  • Leadership Tomorrow – Board Member
  • The Elite OC, Young Professionals Society – Founder
  • OC Marathon – Board
  • Fire Ops 101 – Newport Beach – Graduate
  • Citizen Police Academy – Newport Beach Graduate
  • 40 Under 40 – OC Metro 2014
  • 2019 NB & Company Dennis O’Neil Partner in Progress Award Winner

As President and Co-Founder of Spinnaker Investment Group, Joseph Stapleton oversees the firm’s client relationships while advising businesses and individuals on customized wealth and investment management, life insurance, group benefits and executive compensation solutions. His top priority is assisting clients to achieve what is most important to them by bringing their goals and desires in line with their financial resources.

He holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Finance and Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona. He currently lives in Newport Beach with his wife, Sarah.

Previous Citizen of the Year Award Recipients

Click to view Silver Anchor Award Winners