Steve Bender’s commitment to the environment and sustainability is life-long and something to which he volunteers his time, energy, creativity, and managerial expertise. Ever since Steve moved to a house on the Back Bay in Newport Beach almost two decades ago, he has been involved in many different environmental organizations serving the local Orange County community and beyond.
Steve grew up in an environmental family from Kansas. His father was winning awards for water conservation in the 1960s as well as raising organic beef in Kansas long before they called it organic. His father also designed one of the first passive solar homes in Kansas.
Today, Steve sits on the Sustainability Leadership Program’s Advisory Board at the University of California-Irvine. He joined the Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends Board in 2009 and chaired the committee that rebranded the organization as the Newport Bay Conservancy. The Conservancy elected him President in 2010. Steve was also appointed to Vanguard University’s “Ethics in America” Board, which honors nationally prominent individuals like John Wooden who display a commitment to ethical decision-making in their corporate philosophies and actions.
His volunteerism produces results. Steve successfully lobbied for the Laguna Beach Marine Reserve. He also successfully lobbied against the failed San Onofre Nuclear Power plant with fellow activist and environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. Steve is currently working on a project to design and build net positive solar powered high efficiency electric homes for Homeless Veterans.
Outside of his environmental activism, Steve sits on the boards of Orangewood PALS as well as the “Doc in a Box” Organization, a group which works with high schools to design and build mobile medical centers. He is the President of the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club and AYUDA International, an organization which provides free dental care to the underserved. He also founded Steve’s Vision, which donates eyeglasses to those in need, and The Cleft Project, a charity which raises funds and supplies to support surgery for patients suffering from cleft palate. Steve chaired the Newport Beach Host Town committee during the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Most recently, he founded and is the CEO of the California Inclusive Sailing Organization, which teaches wounded veterans and Special Olympics athletes how to sail via a custom-fitted boat. Steve is also the past president of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and a volunteer for the American Cancer Society.
For his service, Steve and the groups he supports have been recognized by the California State Assembly, the City of Newport Beach, the Daily Pilot, and Rotary International.