Direct Relief CEO to discuss charity work

Talk to include top-rated organization’s local response

Thomas Tighe, who lives in the Montecito neighborhood devastated by the mudslide, took the helm of Direct Relief in 2000. 

Photo: Direct Relief

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Jan. 12, 2018) The president and CEO of Direct Relief will discuss the international humanitarian medical aid group’s work, including its response to recent local disasters, at the California Lutheran University Corporate Leaders Breakfast in Santa Barbara on Thursday, Feb. 1.

Thomas Tighe will present “Changing the World of Charities” during the event, which runs from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at The Fess Parker resort.

Ranked the seventh-largest charity in the United States by Forbes magazine, Direct Relief topped $1 billion in annual donations for the first time during its 2017 fiscal year, which ended before the Santa Barbara-based organization provided help to the victims of the Montecito mudslide, Thomas Fire, Northern California fires, Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, and earthquakes in Mexico.

Founded in 1948, Direct Relief is not only large but also well-regarded. Charity Navigator has awarded it a 100 percent score for accountability and transparency as well as financial performance. Charity Navigator notes that 99.4 percent of the organization’s total expenses are spent on the services it delivers. The organization also received a 100 percent score in fundraising efficiency and charitable commitment from Forbes.

Tighe, who lives in the Montecito neighborhood devastated by the mudslide, took the helm of Direct Relief in 2000. Since then, the organization has provided cash grants of more than $40 million and furnished more than $4 billion worth of medicine, equipment and supplies to support health services for low-income people in 88 developing countries and all 50 U.S. states. Also during that time, Direct Relief was named among the world’s most innovative nonprofits by Fast Company and won the Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation, the CEO Force for Good Director’s Award and the Office of the Surgeon General’s National Leadership and Partnership Award.

Before joining Direct Relief, Tighe served as chief of staff and chief operating officer of the Peace Corps and associate counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. 

The Corporate Leaders Breakfast Series brings members of the business and civic communities together to share ideas and hear from prominent leaders in the region. The 2017-2018 series will continue with a presentation by MindBody CEO Rick Stollmeyer on his company on March 20 at the Ventura Beach Marriott and a discussion of private equity by Martha’s Senior Gourmet President Eyal Gluzman and Moss Adams Transaction Services partner Stan Luker on May 1 at Cal Lutheran.

Reservations are requested by Jan. 26. To RSVP, contact Sharon Nelson at For more information, go to