It’s hard to remember a time in my public relations career when I wasn’t associated with Project Independence. I know I’m a better person for it. The experience began one afternoon in the 1980s, when I was asked by my boss to sit in for him at a meeting with a nonprofit organization called the Vantage Foundation. The rest is history, as the saying goes.

Back then it was housed at Rae Community Center in Costa Mesa. Its mission was to provide quality support services for people with the most significant developmental disabilities. There I joined the board of directors and met Debra Marsteller and Bob Warson. I took my turn as chairman. We held fundraising events including one at the former Hard Rock Café in Newport Beach.

Then in 2007, two established nonprofit organizations – Vantage and Project Independence – combined to better serve the needs of Orange County adults with developmental disabilities. Project Independence was established by dedicated families of adults with developmental disabilities who envisioned at better life for their loved ones. The merger went smoothly. It was a testament to the devotion of my fellow Board members from both organizations had to the mission of the new entity.

But what stands out most in my memory of my years with Project Independence are the amazing people we serve. Through the Access 2 Adventure program, clients have bravely paddled an outrigger in the Newport Beach Back Bay, watched a stirring performance of A Christmas Carol, flew in a vertical wind tunnel, and sailed to Catalina Island for an afternoon. Such adventurous folks.

I fondly remember Bobby Spitzberg, who was both a Project Independence client and a board member. As anyone who spent any time with Bobby would attest, he was unforgettable. He was the walking, talking epitome of Project Independence, which was founded on the belief that people like Bobby who have disabilities still possess the potential to live productive lives, hold jobs and interact positively in their communities.

Bobby’s indefatigable spirit lives on in all of the individuals assisted by the organization and as an inspiration for everyone who believes in its mission. I invite anyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of others, and in themselves, to learn more about Project Independence.

A bit more about Dan

Dan is an award-winning public relations/marketing professional with a media background and over 45 years of experience working with many for-profit and nonprofit national and international organizations. He founded Dan Pittman & Associates, Inc. in 1998. He has held senior posts at BSMG Worldwide Public Relations, Bozell Worldwide; Salvati Montgomery Sakoda; Cochrane Chase, Livingston; and Cunningham & Walsh. His corporate background includes service with Toyota Motor Sales, Inc., the National Hot Rod Association, and the California Dental Association.

Dan began his career at the Associated Press (Chicago/Los Angeles bureaus). He is a graduate of Arizona State and USC and is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America. He is also a former chair of the Community Roots Academy Foundation. He and his wife Anita have been married for 45 years. They enjoy dining out, driving their two Porsches, and attending performances at South Coast Repertory and the GEM Theatre.