D. Manilal Fernando, CPA

In recognition of decades of leadership, community, and charitable activities

We awarded D. Manilal Fernando, CPA, because of the many lives he has enriched through his stewardship of the Clarendon Foundation and many other organizations he’s been privileged to lead. His decades of devotion to the well-being of Sri Lankan families and communities is worthy of celebration.

Born in Panadura, Sri Lanka, Manilal spent most of his childhood in Mount Lavinia. He was educated at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, Aquinas College of Higher Studies, Colombo, and later at California State University, Long Beach. He is known to be the first Sri Lankan Certified Public Accountant in California.

When Manilal inherited his great-grandfather’s house in Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka, he turned the home into a refuge for abandoned and orphaned children. The Clarendon Children’s Home, as it came to be known, was just the beginning of what grew into the Clarendon Foundation, a charitable organization that has expanded to provide a variety of services to Sri Lankans in need.

Founded in 1989, the Clarendon Foundation is Manilal’s passion. Under his leadership and with the generosity of donors, the Foundation has dedicated over five million dollars of monetary resources towards charitable work in Sri Lanka. With a focus on children, it provides 475,000 meals a year, helping 1,500 children daily, while also focusing on ongoing nutrition for children with cancer. Children are provided opportunities for a university education and tutoring assistance throughout Sri Lanka, including access to computers in remote village areas. The Foundation has built schoolhouses, funded multiple children’s homes, and provided homes for abused women, pregnant single mothers, and their babies. In addition to housing, basic nutrition, and education, they have provided training for disabled children and funded heart surgeries for infants.

Expanding on its core purpose of helping children, the Foundation has helped thousands of Sri Lankans during times of disasters and economic hardship, such as during COVID-19, terrorist attacks, floods, and other natural disasters.

Manilal is a past president of the Sri Lanka America Association of Southern California and served as the Treasurer of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s Asian Pacific Heritage Week Committee. As president, he spearheaded Sri Lankan events in the Los Angeles community, such as bringing the Foundation to the Los Angeles Lotus Festival, hosting Sri Lankan New Year celebrations, and organizing social events in premier locations like aboard the Queen Mary and the Princess Louise. Through these and many other activities, he launched the Foundation to a new level of operation.

He was the founding president of the Old Joe’s Association of California and set up the Old Joe’s Association of California Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization. In the first few years, he facilitated funding for St. Joseph’s College in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

He served as President of the Optimist Club of Cerritos from 2021 to 2022. The Optimist Club of Cerritos supports and provides uplifting programs for children in the local school district i.e. STEM programs, essays, and oratorical contests. He received numerous awards and proclamations for his service from the ABC Unified School District, the City of Cerritos, and the County of Los Angeles.

Currently, he serves as the President of the COC Foundation where he works directly with the ABC Unified School District’s social workers. He has initiated, developed, and promoted a program that provides clothing, shoes, food vouchers, and other essential needs to underprivileged students in the School District.

The Sri Lanka Foundation thanks D. Manilal Fernando, CPA, for his decades of leadership, community, and charitable activities. Children have been fed and nurtured through the generous contributions of donors and volunteers he has organized. Many have been helped directly as a result of Manilal’s work. It is a great blessing to so many families.