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Oceana Magazine Winter 2011: Donor Profile: Karen Cahill

For three years, Karen Cahill has hosted Oceana’s SeaChange Summer Party with her husband Bruce at their Laguna Beach home. First introduced to Oceana by board member Valarie Whiting, Cahill and her entire family have become an integral part of Oceana’s California support network.

The SeaChange Summer Party has raised nearly $3 million for ocean conservation and, in the process, become Orange County’s premier charity event. With honorees including Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman and Glenn Close, it’s hard for Cahill to pick just one outstanding moment.

“I think the most special moment for me personally was the 40-minute impromptu concert at this year’s event by Jeff Bridges,” she said. “The weather was amazing, we had already raised an unparalleled amount of money and his voluntary generosity was unbounded and unique.”

A Southern California native, Cahill has fond childhood memories of summers spent on the beach and body  surfing in the Pacific. Her contributions to Oceana, along with her husband Bruce, are part of her dedication to ensuring her own children have a healthy ocean – in addition to the other important causes the Cahills support.

“Here's the bottom line as my husband  and I see it,” she said. “We are making amazing progress on the cure ratio of children's cancer; we are putting the Mind Research Institute's math programs into schools across the country and raising scores by 33 percent; we are reducing childhood crime with our Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide – but if we don't leave our children a planet, what good does it do?

“We have an obligation to our children to stop this destruction of our environment. That is why Oceana is so important to our family and why we will continue our support for years to come!”

One campaign that holds particular appeal for Cahill is Oceana’s fight to end destructive bottom trawling, a fishing technique that involves dragging a weighted net across the seafloor, destroying anything in its path.

“I support all of Oceana's endeavors, but I think that one holds special meaning for me,” she said. Since its inception, Oceana has helped to protect more than a million square miles of ocean seafloor from trawling – much of it in the Pacific.

Cahill plans to continue hosting the SeaChange Summer Party. “My goals for SeaChange are very simple,” she said. “One is to continue to raise awareness of the ocean's problems and the attainable solutions Oceana continues to provide, and two, to raise as much money as possible to support Oceana's amazing work.”