Committee invites nominations for Dolphin Awards


Opportunity opens to honor those who go above and beyond in the community

While the city of Malibu is known worldwide for its understated beachy glamour, its residents recognize the city’s greatest asset — the community. Through Malibu’s many tragedies, emergencies and even during prosaic times community members will step up to help one another — many often under the radar.

For three decades, the Malibu Dolphin Foundation (MDF) has sought to recognize these heroes and unsung people who make Malibu a better place. As the MDF mission statement cites, Dolphin Award winners are recognized for supporting community projects that enhance Malibu’s quality of life, address the city’s critical challenges and provide for the unmet needs of fellow citizens.

The MDF was formed nearly 35 years ago by Arnold and Karen York, then publishers of The Malibu Times. The couple was discussing community concerns one day with fellow residents Ann Fulton and Harvey Baskin. 

“We were talking about how to recognize those people who were very important to developing community in Malibu,” said Karen York, the publisher emerita. 

Just as they came up with the idea of giving awards, “a pod of dolphins swam by,” York recalled and said the group decided to call the awards Dolphins, “because dolphins are known for helping seamen in distress and so forth. It became an appropriate name and it stuck.” The MDF eventually became a 501-c3 for nonprofit status. 

While the MDF is independent of The Malibu Times newspaper, it enjoys support from the publication. New publishers Hayley and Nic Mattson have been invited to join the MDF board. The Yorks, now retired and living in Sacramento, remain board members.

Usually 10 people or organizations are honored with Dolphin Awards at a ceremony. In 2020 the ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 and 2021 honorees were jointly recognized last year. This year an in-person ceremony is being planned for a to-be-announced date sometime this spring. 

Award recipients are chosen by nominations from the Malibu community and the 300 or so who have earned Dolphin Awards. The deadline for nominations has been extended to Friday, February 25. Nominations can be sent by email to Karen York at

Along with the awards ceremonies, the MDF also gives a stipend to its Malibu Youth Dolphin winners for scholarships if funds are available. MDF also sponsored and staffed Operation Recovery after the Woolsey Fire. Operation Recovery provided classes, information sessions and other support to fire victims. 

“We acted as a center for information on FEMA and anything they needed,” according to York, an experienced fire survivor who lost her Malibu home in 1993. “Operation Recovery was expensive to take on, but we did it with wonderful volunteers. The foundation is more than just the event.”

Another event the MDF produces is a candidate information seminar. A workshop is held for people who are considering a run for local office. Information is provided along with a course on city government, city management, campaign regulations and other Malibu specific issues. MDF works with Pepperdine University, Hughes Research and the Malibu Association of Realtors to put on the informative forum. With an election later this year, expect to hear about another candidate workshop.

While the MDF website is under repair, contact Karen York at for information on how to donate. The email address may also be used to nominate an individual or organization for a Dolphin Award. Please submit at least 150 words describing your nominee’s contribution to Malibu. Make sure to include their contact information and yours.