President and CEO of the Orange County Rescue Mission (OCRM) since 1992, the county’s most comprehensive private homeless services provider, Jim Palmer has worked to create long-term self-sufficiency and stability among the Orange County and Southern California homeless by going beyond temporary solutions to address the underlying causes of transitional and chronic homelessness. The Rescue Mission started with nine people and has grown into the largest non-profit, faith-based organization serving 28,929 people throughout Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties by providing more than 2 million units of service and more than 1.2 million meals in 2012.
Under Mr. Palmer’s visionary leadership, OCRM has received national recognition for success rates of client graduates and entrepreneurial approaches to developing self-sufficiency, including the 211th Presidential Point of Light award, Governor Schwarzenegger’s Service Award (2004), and recognition from President George W. Bush at the Faith-based Initiatives Conference in Washington, D.C.
As president, Palmer established The Village of Hope on the former Tustin Marine Corps Air Base, developed the House of Hope, Hope Family Housing, HURTT Family Health Clinics, the Double R Ranch, Operation OC, Temecula Murrieta Rescue, and Corona Norco Rescue Missions. Palmer maximizes donor commitment by putting an average of 81 cents on every donated dollar directly toward those in need.
On July 3rd, 2007 President George W. Bush nominated Mr. Palmer for the position of a Director on the Board for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Sixty days later, the United States Senate unanimously confirmed Palmer’s nomination for his term ending 2012. CNCS is the largest grant maker in the field of civic and volunteer service. Mr. Palmer oversaw a staff of 125,000 and an annual operating budget of $1.2 Billion Dollars until his term ended in October of 2012.
Mr. Palmer is the only person to have served on three levels of government simultaneously. He served as a local elected official, County Commissioner, and Federal Official from 2006 to 2010. Mr. Palmer continues to serve as a County Housing Commissioner, and a Senate Confirmed Presidential Appointee. He recently completed four years on the Tustin City Council. One of his significant achievements was authoring and implementing the most comprehensive government transparency law in California.
Mr. Palmer was awarded the title of Orange County Local Elected Official of the Year for his outstanding service on the Tustin City Council in 2010.
Since 1997, he has served as a County Commissioner for the Orange County Housing Commission; and has served as its Chairman four times. Mr. Palmer was instrumental in the development of the Continuum of Care Leadership Cabinet, a sub-committee of the Housing Commission that assists in the development of regional strategies for homeless programs that focus on advocacy, homeless prevention, outreach and assessment, transitional and emergency shelters, and affordable housing.
Mr. Palmer served as the Commander of the Orange County Sheriffs’ Department Volunteer Professional Services Responders. He commanded a group of over 400 volunteers that provided $5 million dollars worth of service. He has personally volunteered more than 2,000 hours in the areas of Homeland Security; fire arms range master and commander of the unit.
Mr. Palmer serves as a volunteer director for Spirit West Coast and oversees the security and safety operations for 30,000 guests who assemble for the Memorial Day weekend music festival in Del Mar California.
Mr. Palmer is an advocate for children’s issues in Orange County. He fostered nine children and adopted three.
As a father, Mr. Palmer spends time with his two sons and two daughters. In his free time, he is a rancher raising horses and goats; he has won awards racing his turbo-charged Mini Cooper with his sons, James and Kody. He teaches his daughters, Nancy & Sophie, firearms safety and they have become skilled in accuracy with archery and handguns, respectively. Mr. Palmer resides in the City of Tustin with his four children.