Voice of OC Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Norberto Santana, Jr. is one of Orange County’s most influential people of the year.

The Orange County Register list of 125 top influencers included Santana as No. 21 on the list amongst those called: “amazing people in Orange County who saved lives, raised funds for those in need and educated the county’s future.”

The recognition said this of Santana: “The founder and publisher of the non-profit Voice of OC, Santana was recently named publisher of the year among independent, online newsrooms nationwide by an organization of independent news publishers.”

Santana was indeed named best publisher in the nation amongst small newsrooms in the 2021 Local Journalism Awards.

Independent judges for the contest recognize Santana for Voice of OC’s continued success earned through innovation and iteration with a deliberate dedication to the mission.

Specifically, independent judges noted Santana’s work in building Voice of OC as “one of the standard bearers of nonprofit journalism” and noted the website’s clean design, sharp articulation of its mission and impacts, comprehensive content, savvy social media outreach and refinement of the tech stack.”


This national honor comes on the heels of Santana being recognized for his work as a publisher, editor, columnist and news industry leader throughout the year and in years preceding.

He’s also taken the effort to ensure that the nonprofit field of journalism continues to grow.

Santana is currently serving his fourth term on the Institute for Nonprofit News’ board of directors and has served as a board member for Investigative Reporters and Editors as well as the Orange County Press Club. 

He leads an innovative partnership with the Voice of OC nonprofit newsroom as a faculty member at Chapman University — integrating the college’s young aspiring journalists with an opportunity to gain experience through shoe leather reporting that causes real impacts and serves the community.

Santana also has worked to ensure that journalists and residents in California have the legal representation and knowledge to be able to publish accountability news. 

Now serving as president of CalAware, he is leading the renown, nonpartisan nonprofit in its effort to “foster the improvement of, compliance with and public understanding and use of, public forum law, which deals with people’s rights to find out what citizens need to know to be truly self-governing, and to share what they know and believe without fear or loss.”

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.