Meet Our 2019 Judges

Heritage Future welcomes our 2019 Orange County Laureate judges–Samantha Dunn, Patrick Fuery, Julia Reinhard Lupton, Stephen J. Mexal, and Richard Stein–an inspiring panel of art advocates, authors, and educators.

Samantha Dunn is an editor at Coast Magazine. Her debut novel, Failing Paris, was a finalist for the PEN Center Fiction Award. Her memoir, Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life rose to bestseller lists in Los Angeles and San Francisco and her second memoir, Faith in Carlos Gomez, has been in production at  Lifetime Television. Sam’s work is widely anthologized, including the short story collection, Women on the Edge: Writing from Los Angeles, which she co-edited. Her essays have appeared in numerous national publications such as O (Oprah) Magazine, Ms., and Salon. She teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers Program and at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Patrick Fuery is a graduate of Murdoch University, Australia, with a BA (Hons), MPhil and Phd in Comparative Literature. He has held posts at the University of London (Royal Holloway College), Sussex University, and the University of Newcastle (Australia). He is the author of eight books and has been translated into Chinese, Italian, French, and Korean. His most recent book is Madness and Cinema. His research interests include psychoanalysis, semiotics, literary and cultural theory, gender studies, film and visual studies, medicine and the arts. He is currently completing two books: a study on cultural disturbance and the sublime; and an edited collection on medicine, culture, and the arts.

Julia Reinhard Lupton is professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, where she directs Illuminations: The Chancellor’s Arts and Culture Initiative. As associate dean for research, she organizes public programming for UCI’s School of Humanities. She is the co-director of the UCI Shakespeare Center and the author or co-author of five books on Shakespeare. Lupton is a former Guggenheim Fellow.

Stephen J. Mexal is Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics at California State University, Fullerton.  In addition to numerous scholarly articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, he is the author of the book Reading for Liberalism: The Overland Monthly and the Writing of the Modern American West.

Richard Stein has served as executive director of Arts Orange County, our community’s nonprofit local arts agency, since 2008. Before that he transformed The Laguna Playhouse from a community theatre to a $7-million, internationally respected, professional theater during 17 years as its executive director. A California native, he arrived in Orange County in 1987 to manage the Grove Shakespeare Festival in Garden Grove. He holds degrees from Columbia and Syracuse universities, is a contributing writer to the national monthly American Theatre, and remains active as a stage director. He served as Orange County Supervisor Harriett Wieder’s appointee to the John Wayne Airport Arts Commission and twice was co-chairman of Orange County’s National Philanthropy Day celebration. Since 2009, Richard has served on the board of California Arts Advocates, a statewide organization promoting the interests of the arts community, including three years as its President. 

Know someone that inspires and has contributed to their community? Know someone that is creative and intelligent, and likes so share that with others? Don’t forget to nominate your friend or neighbor for the Orange County Laureate by October 31st at

As a nonprofit organization dedicated to storytelling, we want to honor storytellers in our own backyard. Now is the time to nominate Orange County community members who inspire you, through storytelling, community engagement, or education (art, literature, music, history, science, technology). Nominate the neighbors who inspire you.