Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, a managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons and an owner of South Coast Plaza–developed half a century ago by her family on their lima-bean fields–makes a difference in children’s lives. Her vision led to the Festival of Children, a monthlong event at the center that last month showcased 70 organizations, and the national Festival of Children Foundation. She also works on behalf of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County and serves on the Segerstrom Center for the Arts board of directors. Daniels, 49, was born in Santa Ana and lives with her husband, John, in Newport Coast.
What are your memories before there was a South Coast Plaza?
Lots with the family! Weekends playing with Dad [Hal Segerstrom] in the yard. Going to the store with our mom [Jeanette] and buying Ding Dongs! I remember playing on the tractors and farm and cutting the ribbon for South Coast Plaza in October 1967–we still have the original scissors!
A congressional resolution, in 2004, commending my foundation for the work we do on behalf of children’s charities. I actually got to sit in the chambers and be part of the announcement. It was amazing to hear your name in the House of Representatives. Chills.
Single greatest influence?
Always my motivation was the pleasure of working with my dad. That’s the reason I never moved away. We are such a family-oriented family–my sister and I live on the same street.
How did you come to focus on children to begin with?
In Girl Scouts, I would tend to hang around with the younger girls; in junior high I helped with Special Olympics. I love kids because I’m still just a big one.
Children of your own?
A daughter, two grandchildren.
Any recommendations for visitors with kids?
The Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana… or any beach.
What are the foundation goals?
The foundation encompasses about 500 charities–we now have a charity in all 50 states. But I believe in small growth. We have a goal to get to a thousand charities, but we don’t want the number to grow any faster than the programs to support them… They all need money. But they also need education and marketing services on a national basis. We produce webinars, newsletters, let them know about government grants and how to access them. A program they spend money on would take money away from the kids they serve; we provide these services for free.
What does a Segerstrom & Sons managing partner do on a typical day?
Varies every day–and it very much depends on the time of year. There are managers’ meetings every week, family meetings every two weeks. Budgeting. Lots of paperwork. I have all of my foundation people here, so if it’s quiet, if there’s not paperwork to deal with, I can switch to the foundation.
Do you have passions apart from your charity work?
Golf and cycling, though I don’t get in a lot of either. I’m not a good enough golfer for Pelican Hill Golf Club. Strawberry Farms is beautiful.
Orange County has so many! I like Marché Moderne at South Coast Plaza. I get the ahi tuna sandwich–without the bread… I take visitors to Mastro’s Ocean Club at Crystal Cove for its beautiful view and great food. The crab legs are my favorite.
Ann Taylor, Omega, Lego Store and Nathan Alan Jewelers at South Coast Plaza. I’m a better window shopper, because I don’t have time to shop!
Where might you shop that’s not at South Coast Plaza?
Target! It’s one-stop shopping, especially for a working girl.
Discovery Science Center 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana, 714.542.2823 Mastro’s Ocean Club Crystal Cove Shopping Center, 8112 E. Coast Hwy., Newport Coast, 949.376.6990 Pelican Hill Golf Club 22701 Pelican Hill Road S., Newport Coast, 877.735.4226 South Coast Plaza 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, 800.782.8888, Ann Taylor 714.754.1915, LEGO Store 714.668.9017, Marché Moderne 714.434.7900, Nathan Alan Jewelers 714.850.0558, Omega 714.850.0558 Strawberry Farms Golf Club 11 Strawberry Farms Road, Irvine, 949.551.1811 Target 3030 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, 714.979.0372