Saddleback College Foundation to Host 16th Annual Gala - Alumna of the Year Will be Honored

For Immediate Release: 
March 7, 2016
Saddleback College invites all community members to its 16th annual foundation gala on Saturday, March 12th at 6:00 pm at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa in Dana Point. The gala, which raises funds for student scholarships and college programs, will feature a live and silent auction, dinner, gaming, and magic by Jim Eggold.  Live music will be provided by the Saddleback Jazz Band and Commercial Music Ensemble. 
Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, will honor the 2016 Saddleback College Alumna of the Year, Michelle Desilets, who has been recognized around the globe for her work in the protection of endangered orangutans and their habitat.  Michelle, who is the founder and executive director of Orangutan Land Trust, developed an interest in anthropology when she attended Saddleback College in the mid-eighties. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in English literature from Dominican University in San Rafael, and a teaching certificate from California State University, Long Beach.  
During her years of teaching school she traveled extensively, and it was in Borneo in 1994 where she met her first orangutan, who stole her heart and changed her life.  In 1997 Michelle and a fellow volunteer opened a rescue center in Central Borneo that is now the world’s largest primate rescue facility, and she later founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK and Orangutan Land Trust, which works to provide sustainable solutions for the long-term survival of the orangutan in the wild by ensuring safe areas of forest for its continued survival.
In addition to her charity work, Michelle has served as a consultant to international film crews from BBC, PBS, and Animal Planet, for the series Orangutan Island and Orangutan Diary.  She is currently advising on a new film project for ITV (UK) and PBS.  Her efforts have been recognized by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Prince Charles, and her organization was honored by the BBC Wildlife Trust as one of the top ten UK charities working to save wildlife globally.  
Top gala sponsors include: 
Presidential Sponsors -- Dr. Tod A. Burnett, Janet and Michael Hamilton, Follett Bookstore 
Cardinal and Gold Sponsors -- C. W. Driver, Hudson Pacific Properties, City of Dana Point, Neudesic, LLC, Capata & Co.
Gaucho Sponsors -- AT&T, Audi Mission Viejo, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo, FLS International, Irvine Valley College, Liebert, Cassidy and Whitmore, Prendiville Insurance Agency, Rancho Mission Viejo and John Williams.  
During the cocktail hour, Rancho Capistrano Winery will host a wine tasting, and Spa Girls Cocktails will host martinis for the guests.
To make a donation to the gala or to support scholarships, please visit the Saddleback College Foundation website at 
The Saddleback College Foundation initiates and coordinates college and community fundraising in support of Saddleback College and its students. By raising funds for scholarships and other programs, which directly benefit students, the foundation is committed to increasing student success and the enhancing the excellent education offered by Saddleback College. Guided by a group of dedicated community leaders, the foundation strives to make higher education attainable for all in south Orange County. For more information, please visit