Desert Above & Beyond Awards Gala

Angel Light Academy’s Leadership Training Institute will be honoring local citizens who have proven excellence in community leadership and service. This event was established in 2009 as a grass roots recognition program for the “doers” of our local communities. Each of the honorees has demonstrated they consistently go above and beyond and are nominated by their peers for this prestigious award. This event is an amazing forum to view the works of our honorees who represent fabulous organizations, institutions, and corporations.

Nominate an Angel on EarthFor Excellence in Leadership and Service

10th Annual Above & Beyond Awards Gala

January 26th, 2019

Congratulations 2019 Honorees

Robert Berens, Red Hot Ballroom
Annette Garcia & Dave DiMeno, CV Horse Rescue
Victory Grund, Old Town Artisan Studios
Paul Hoffman
Elaine Holmes
Risseth Lora, YMCA of the Desert
Rosa Lucas, CV Volunteers in Medicine
Farah Meadows
Jerry Moe, Betty Ford Children’s Center
Shay Moraga
Margit Chiriaco Rusche

For more information contact

Lindsay Jordan
Angel Light Academy
760-861-5132
Lindsay@angellightacademy.org

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2019 Honorees

Testimonials

Desert Gala Honorees

To find out more on each honoree, click on their photo to read their bio.
Linda Aguilar - 2010

Linda Aguilar - 2010

Martha & Abraham Aguilar Family - 2011

Martha & Abraham Aguilar Family - 2011

Lindalee Allison - 2013

Lindalee Allison - 2013

DeAnn Lubell Ames  - 2018

DeAnn Lubell Ames - 2018

Andrea Aranda - 2014

Andrea Aranda - 2014

Suzanne Armstrong - 2017

Suzanne Armstrong - 2017

Erika Baily - 2010

Erika Baily - 2010

Richard Balocco -2018

Richard Balocco -2018

Brooke Beare - 2012

Brooke Beare - 2012

Robert Berens - 2019

Robert Berens - 2019

Michelle Bergeron - 2018

Michelle Bergeron - 2018

Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018

Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018

David Brinkman - 2017

David Brinkman - 2017

Veda Brooks - 2010

Veda Brooks - 2010

Toni Callicott - 2016

Toni Callicott - 2016

Andrea Carter - 2017

Andrea Carter - 2017

Vanessa Castro - 2010

Vanessa Castro - 2010

Nachhattar S. Chandi - 2011

Nachhattar S. Chandi - 2011

Susana Chandi - 2018

Susana Chandi - 2018

Mike Chedester - 2015

Mike Chedester - 2015

Margit Chiriaco-Rusche - 2019

Margit Chiriaco-Rusche - 2019

Troy Compton - 2010

Troy Compton - 2010

Congressman Paul Cook - 2017

Congressman Paul Cook - 2017

Tim Cote - 2013

Tim Cote - 2013

Donna Craig - 2016

Donna Craig - 2016

Robert Craven - 2011

Robert Craven - 2011

Arthur D’Souza - 2013

Arthur D’Souza - 2013

Richard DeSantis  - 2016

Richard DeSantis - 2016

Selby Dunham - 2017

Selby Dunham - 2017

Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018

Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018

Patrick Evans - 2014

Patrick Evans - 2014

Melanie Fesmire - 2011

Melanie Fesmire - 2011

Maureen Forman  -  2017

Maureen Forman - 2017

Susan Francis - 2015

Susan Francis - 2015

Annette Garcia & Dave DiMeno - 2019

Annette Garcia & Dave DiMeno - 2019

Caleb Gervin - 2012

Caleb Gervin - 2012

Owen and Audrey Gillick - 2014

Owen and Audrey Gillick - 2014

Kathy Greco - 2016

Kathy Greco - 2016

Victory Grund - 2019

Victory Grund - 2019

Cirenia Guerrero - 2013

Cirenia Guerrero - 2013

Pauline Hennessey - 2012

Pauline Hennessey - 2012

Mike Hestrin - 2014

Mike Hestrin - 2014

Paul Hoffman - 2019

Paul Hoffman - 2019

Elaine Holmes - 2019

Elaine Holmes - 2019

Jackie Lee Houston - 2011

Jackie Lee Houston - 2011

Lisa Houston - 2015

Lisa Houston - 2015

Suz Hunt - 2017

Suz Hunt - 2017

George And Nancy Huntington - 2018

George And Nancy Huntington - 2018

Colleen Johnson - 2011

Colleen Johnson - 2011

Jennie Kelly - 2012

Jennie Kelly - 2012

Roberta Klein - 2017

Roberta Klein - 2017

Craig Gahnz Kuhar - 2015

Craig Gahnz Kuhar - 2015

Lynda Lake - 2012

Lynda Lake - 2012

Peggy Sue Lane - 2016

Peggy Sue Lane - 2016

Risseth Lora - 2019

Risseth Lora - 2019

Rosa Lucas - 2019

Rosa Lucas - 2019

Rafael Luna - 2010

Rafael Luna - 2010

Robyn Madala - 2013

Robyn Madala - 2013

Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018

Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018

Rev. Dr. Tahlib McMicheaux - 2014

Rev. Dr. Tahlib McMicheaux - 2014

Dr. Farah Meadows - 2019

Dr. Farah Meadows - 2019

Isabel Megli - 2012

Isabel Megli - 2012

Cindy Melland - 2015

Cindy Melland - 2015

Randall Miller - 2012

Randall Miller - 2012

Jerry Moe - 2019

Jerry Moe - 2019

Ruth Moir - 2016

Ruth Moir - 2016

Shay Moraga - 2019

Shay Moraga - 2019

Tanya Moreno -2018

Tanya Moreno -2018

Lynn Moriarty - 2014

Lynn Moriarty - 2014

Paul Morway - 2014

Paul Morway - 2014

Cameron Moulton - 2017

Cameron Moulton - 2017

Mika Moulton - 2012

Mika Moulton - 2012

Denise Muller - 2010

Denise Muller - 2010

Gigi C. Muth - 2013

Gigi C. Muth - 2013

Margot Nelligan - 2018

Margot Nelligan - 2018

Don Nydam - 2015

Don Nydam - 2015

Dylan O’Brien -2010

Dylan O’Brien -2010

Sean and Gina Pendleton - 2018

Sean and Gina Pendleton - 2018

Jan Peters - 2013

Jan Peters - 2013

Bob Reinhagen - 2010

Bob Reinhagen - 2010

Jo Rosen - 2016

Jo Rosen - 2016

Dr. Prem Salhotra - 2016

Dr. Prem Salhotra - 2016

Maria Serrano - 2012

Maria Serrano - 2012

Dustin  Smith - 2016

Dustin Smith - 2016

Sandy Smith - 2016

Sandy Smith - 2016

Sheriff Stan Sniff - 2017

Sheriff Stan Sniff - 2017

Dr. Stephen Steele - 2015

Dr. Stephen Steele - 2015

Katie Slimko-Stice - 2017

Katie Slimko-Stice - 2017

Erica Stone - 2016

Erica Stone - 2016

Senator Jeff Stone - 2015

Senator Jeff Stone - 2015

Scott Trujillo - 2011

Scott Trujillo - 2011

Chief Richard Twiss - 2015

Chief Richard Twiss - 2015

Walt & Judy Van Benthuysen - 2015

Walt & Judy Van Benthuysen - 2015

Brenda Ayon Verduzco - 2014

Brenda Ayon Verduzco - 2014

Melinda Wallace - 2011

Melinda Wallace - 2011

Richard Waxman - 2013

Richard Waxman - 2013

Julia Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement Award - 2017

Julia Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement Award - 2017

General Richard Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement - 2016

General Richard Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement - 2016

Solomon Worlds - 2010

Solomon Worlds - 2010

Ann Woods - 2014

Ann Woods - 2014

  • Linda Aguilar - 2010
  • Martha & Abraham Aguilar Family - 2011
  • Lindalee Allison - 2013
  • DeAnn Lubell Ames  - 2018
  • Andrea Aranda - 2014
  • Suzanne Armstrong - 2017
  • Erika Baily - 2010
  • Richard Balocco -2018
  • Brooke Beare - 2012
  • Robert Berens - 2019
  • Michelle Bergeron - 2018
  • Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018
  • David Brinkman - 2017
  • Veda Brooks - 2010
  • Toni Callicott - 2016
  • Andrea Carter - 2017
  • Vanessa Castro - 2010
  • Nachhattar S. Chandi - 2011
  • Susana Chandi - 2018
  • Mike Chedester - 2015
  • Margit Chiriaco-Rusche - 2019
  • Troy Compton - 2010
  • Congressman Paul Cook - 2017
  • Tim Cote - 2013
  • Donna Craig - 2016
  • Robert Craven - 2011
  • Arthur D’Souza - 2013
  • Richard DeSantis  - 2016
  • Selby Dunham - 2017
  • Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018
  • Patrick Evans - 2014
  • Melanie Fesmire - 2011
  • Maureen Forman  -  2017
  • Susan Francis - 2015
  • Annette Garcia & Dave DiMeno - 2019
  • Caleb Gervin - 2012
  • Owen and Audrey Gillick - 2014
  • Kathy Greco - 2016
  • Victory Grund - 2019
  • Cirenia Guerrero - 2013
  • Pauline Hennessey - 2012
  • Mike Hestrin - 2014
  • Paul Hoffman - 2019
  • Elaine Holmes - 2019
  • Jackie Lee Houston - 2011
  • Lisa Houston - 2015
  • Suz Hunt - 2017
  • George And Nancy Huntington - 2018
  • Colleen Johnson - 2011
  • Jennie Kelly - 2012
  • Roberta Klein - 2017
  • Craig Gahnz Kuhar - 2015
  • Lynda Lake - 2012
  • Peggy Sue Lane - 2016
  • Risseth Lora - 2019
  • Rosa Lucas - 2019
  • Rafael Luna - 2010
  • Robyn Madala - 2013
  • Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018
  • Rev. Dr. Tahlib McMicheaux - 2014
  • Dr. Farah Meadows - 2019
  • Isabel Megli - 2012
  • Cindy Melland - 2015
  • Randall Miller - 2012
  • Jerry Moe - 2019
  • Ruth Moir - 2016
  • Shay Moraga - 2019
  • Tanya Moreno -2018
  • Lynn Moriarty - 2014
  • Paul Morway - 2014
  • Cameron Moulton - 2017
  • Mika Moulton - 2012
  • Denise Muller - 2010
  • Gigi C. Muth - 2013
  • Margot Nelligan - 2018
  • Don Nydam - 2015
  • Dylan O’Brien -2010
  • Sean and Gina Pendleton - 2018
  • Jan Peters - 2013
  • Bob Reinhagen - 2010
  • Jo Rosen - 2016
  • Dr. Prem Salhotra - 2016
  • Maria Serrano - 2012
  • Dustin  Smith - 2016
  • Sandy Smith - 2016
  • Sheriff Stan Sniff - 2017
  • Dr. Stephen Steele - 2015
  • Katie Slimko-Stice - 2017
  • Erica Stone - 2016
  • Senator Jeff Stone - 2015
  • Scott Trujillo - 2011
  • Chief Richard Twiss - 2015
  • Walt & Judy Van Benthuysen - 2015
  • Brenda Ayon Verduzco - 2014
  • Melinda Wallace - 2011
  • Richard Waxman - 2013
  • Julia Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement Award - 2017
  • General Richard Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement - 2016
  • Solomon Worlds - 2010
  • Ann Woods - 2014
  • Linda Aguilar - 2010

    Linda began helping others at a young age. She joined ALA at age five and has been an active and committed participant since. Her dream is to become a pediatrician to help children be all that they are meant to be, and she is well on her way. An excellent student at Coachella Valley High School of Coachella Valley Unified School District, Linda has been recognized not only for her academic achievements but also for her athletic accomplishments, and for her outstanding community service. In addition to her work with ALA, she has been a volunteer for Flying Doctors, Martha’s Kitchen, her church, and has lead a youth group at her home. She has also tutored children in need of academic support. Well respected by her teachers, family and friends, Linda leads by example.
  • Martha & Abraham Aguilar Family - 2011

    Martha and Abraham Aguilar are dedicated to service to their family, community, and church. Their four children: Linda, Jacqueline, Jonathan, and Michelle have followed their parents’ example in leadership and service. . Martha and Abraham were raised in Mexico with humble beginnings, so they strive to assist their children in accomplishing what they want out of life. They have always instilled into each of their children the importance of helping one another out and helping out the community. Each of the children are honor roll students, involved in extracurricular activities at school, and have been involved in community service throughout their entire lives. Linda, their eldest child, is completing her Freshman year at College of the Desert and has been an extraordinary example to her younger siblings. Linda encourages them to follow in her foot steps of success, but to still make their own footprints along the way. Each of these “Angels on Earth” have a special unique gift and way of giving back at school, home, and in the community. Martha and Abraham Aguilar have set a foundation of values, service, and leadership for the generations to come.
  • Lindalee Allison - 2013

    Lindalee’s service as a minister has brought her before many troubled teens, especially girls. She inspires them and gives them hope for a better life. Lindalee has touched many lives with her messages, including the girls in the Indio Juvenile Facility. Even in the most hopeless of situations, Lindalee is able to give them a glimpse of a bright future, which is sometimes all a person may need. As President of the Mid-Valley Interfaith Council, she sees firsthand the needs of young people in her community and she works to find ways to fill those needs. She has written a book for teens and created a CD for children, inspiring them to reach their full potential. Lindalee’s loving message and tireless work have made her indispensable to the community.
  • DeAnn Lubell Ames - 2018

    DeAnn Lubell-Ames’s passion for volunteering is evident in the extensive list of non-profits she has assisted in the last 25 years. Among those she has served in the Valley are Eisenhower Medical Center Governing Auxiliary Board, Daughters of the American Revolution, Desert Youth Ballet, Angel View, Salton Sea Authority, Stroke Recovery Center, Rancho Mirage Rotary, Jazz in the Gardens, Animal Samaritans, Media Mavens, Cabaret Theater Desert Samaritans for Seniors, to name just a few! DeAnn has also been involved in education projects, creating and distributing support materials for schools throughout the United States. She is respected as an expert in negotiations, marketing, event planning and productions, and has represented non-profits and businesses in resort areas along both coasts of the US for three decades. She is also an accomplished writer of historical and educational books, winning five national awards and three international awards, including a gold medal first place from Readers’ Favorites, for her historical novel The Last Moon. DeAnn has written for several local publications including the Palm Springs Life Magazine, The Desert Women, The Desert Sun, Desert Charities News, and the Desert Magazine in addition to her published novel, novelette and comprehensive medical guide on the functions of the body. Honored as the Media Mavens Public Relations Person of the Year, NLAPW’s Woman of the Year, and the Desert Samaritan’s for Seniors Angel of the Year, DeAnn is no stranger to going Above and Beyond and ALA is proud to recognize her continued service as an Angel on Earth.
  • Andrea Aranda - 2014

    Andrea’s service as a Social Worker has provided hope for foster children and families throughout Riverside County.  As a Riverside County Social Worker, Andrea works with people to support them through difficult times and to provide services to families to ensure their health and well-being.  Andrea was instrumental in creating, Faith in Motion, which is an initiative in Riverside County connecting faith-based groups with the county’s social service agency.  Faith in Motion gives local faith-based groups the opportunity to provide support and encouragement to the families served by social services.  It also helps to connect families with the services and resources they need.  Faith in Motion works toward reducing re-entry rates of foster children, increasing placement stability for foster children, and increasing positive outcomes for foster youth by providing support for independent living, housing, employment, tutoring, and college. Through her work with Faith in Motion, Andrea was voted as Social Worker of the Year.  Andrea and her fellow volunteers help to provide foster youth with stable adults who can mentor them and help to bridge the gap between foster youth, their families, and their communities.  Andrea enjoys helping children and families by linking them to services they need and watching them grow.  Her commitment and enthusiasm are inspiring to all.
  • Suzanne Armstrong - 2017

    Suzanne Armstrong is the founder of A & A Home Care Services, a Registry and Home Care Organization (HCO) that provides warm, personalized care to both home-bound and residential patients. A pioneer in extending warm, personalized care to both home-bound and residential patients, Suzanne has set the benchmark for quality and care in all branches of her business. In 2005, Suzanne opened Casa de Harkness, a 6-bed Residential Care Facility for the Elderly, specializing in dementia and hospice care that has earned a reputation for providing unique services. Suzanne has contributed to a number of charitable organizations throughout the years and has served on a number of Boards of Directors, including Desert Samaritans for Seniors, Soroptimist International of Palm Springs and The House of Hope. She also owned Armstrong & Associates, a comprehensive consulting firm for medical practices, was the co-founder and Executive Director of the Medical Manager’s Association for 10 years, and in 2016, she founded CareKids Club, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to educate the youth on the many needs of their community through direct involvement and hands-on projects. CareKids bridges with the Elderly, through reading, interactive games, visits, etc. CareKids helps kids to develop positive values, gain practical life skills, build self-esteem and character through service projects.
  • Erika Baily - 2010

    Erika developed her talent for teaching while in college, becoming an Orientation Leader, counseling rape victims, and taking on leadership roles in service and social organizations. In addition to teaching in the elementary grades in Indio, California, she had been Grade Level Leader, and is an instructor for the Sacramento County Office of Education, training teachers, coaches and administrators in effective reading instruction. Erika is also an active ALA volunteer and board member. She assists in the development of the curriculum and creates games and activities to teach problem solving for ALA’s Youth Leadership Conferences, Junior Leader and Inter-generational programs. She also chairs the annual Youth Leadership Conferences, trains ALA volunteers who work with children, and developed and managed a successful after school enrichment program that integrated ALA leadership curriculum with school district initiatives.

    Erika@angllightacademy.org

  • Richard Balocco -2018

    Richard Balocco is currently the President/CEO for Desert Arc and serves as the Mayor of Indian Wells. Richard has been CEO of Desert Arc for over 10 years and he has been instrumental in expanding services and programs at Desert Arc. Desert Arc is a non-profit organization that provides services to the developmentally disabled. It has 275 employees and serves more than 700 clients. With the goal of helping each client live as independently as possible, a broad array of programs and services tailored to the unique needs of each client are offered. They include: vocational training; job development; job placement and employment; independent living support with 24 hour emergency assistance; hot meals and nutrition; transportation; support and training for self help and independent living; case management and personalized coordination of client services; advocacy for client needs and community integration. This incredibly important organization helps to give its clients a better quality of life and creates opportunities they would not otherwise have. Richard’s service, both in and out of office, has improved lives and given hope, making him an angel on earth.

    rbalocco@desertarc.org

  • Brooke Beare - 2012

    Brooke’s presence in the media makes her face recognizable, but it is her commitment to the community that makes her an angel. As the evening news anchor for CBS 2, she has reported on the events that impact the lives of the Valley’s residents. She has served as emcee and hostess for many local philanthropic organizations in an effort to raise funds for worthy causes. She has been recognized by the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences as an Emmy nominee for investigative reporting and for contributions to Hunger Action Month. Brooke also serves on the Board of Desert Arc, works with Habitat for Humanity and the A Brush with Kindness Cleanup Project, and has participated in the Palm Springs Half Marathon, Martha’s Village & Kitchen 5K, Women Running Wild, CV Heart Walk, and the Pat Tillman Foundation Memorial Run. Brooke’s heart, and her feet, are dedicated to giving in service to the Coachella Valley and its residents.
  • Robert Berens - 2019

    Robert Berens is the President and Executive Director of Red Hot Ballroom. The organization is an all-volunteer group of dedicated adults. Through Ballroom and Latin dance, Red Hot Ballroom works to make "at risk" students in the 4th through 7th grades better dancers, and better citizens. They stress teamwork, respect for others and good social manners. They help to improve children's self-esteem so they can stand up to negative peer pressure, including drugs and gangs. Students are better focused and disciplined, and have a greater opportunity to transition successfully into adulthood. Red Hot Ballroom has received Certificates of Recognition from California State Senator Jeff Stone, California State Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, and Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel "Manny" Perez. Through Robert's leadership and persistent fundraising, Red Hot Ballroom has grown and now includes 37 public schools in all three Coachella Valley School Districts, with nearly 1,100 students participating. The program is presented at no cost to the families or the school districts. Robert is dedicated to helping young students become better citizens, and to rise out of poverty. Robert is unable to accept this award tonight. Accepting on his behalf is Ron Hagan, Red Hot Ballroom’s Vice President. Ron and his wife, Jackie, have been involved since the program’s beginning and they help to oversee the dance instructors, volunteers, contracts, and produce and operate the three school district ballroom finals each year. Ron, Jackie, and Robert work closely to make sure this program and its positive impact can continue.
  • Michelle Bergeron - 2018

    Michelle Bergeron is the supervisor of the Adoption Alliance Rescue Program with Animal Samaritans. The program is an alliance between Animal Samaritans, the Riverside County shelter, and more than 170 rescue organizations. She and her team work tirelessly to save the lives of abandoned and abused animals. Before she started in this position, the shelter and Animal Samaritans struggled to find homes for saved animals. Now, Michelle has put a system into place that maximizes the number of animals that are fostered, taken by rescue organizations, and adopted. She has also helped to bring people to the shelter to increase an animal’s chances of finding a home. Michelle’s dedication combined with her business background and organization has helped to streamline the rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption process, allowing more animals to be saved every year. To date, Michelle has been a part of rescuing over 10,000 animals. Michelle is the coordination point between all of the organizations that work to rescue animals and yet still finds the time to work with abused and abandoned animals to socialize them so they can be placed in a loving home. She has been an angel on earth to the animals and to the organizations and families she has assisted.
  • Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018

    Dr. Brandstater has been a leader in the medical field throughout his career. With over 60 years as a medical doctor, he has worked in a variety of places and has improved patient care in every place he’s been. Dr. Brandstater has worked in rehabilitation for most of his career and has established a new department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and a new clinical service in rehabilitation medicine at Loma Linda University. It is now a large, successful unit with inpatient and outpatient services. Dr. Brandstater has also maintained an active academic and research career and provided leadership in a number of professional organizations. He has also served as director of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Brandstater ‘s expertise is sought out by hospitals because he is known for creating quality programs, the most recent program being a children’s rehabilitation program at Totally Kids Specialty Hospital in Loma Linda. In addition, Dr. Brandstater has been active in community activities relating to the health of disabled individuals. He started a horse-riding program for disabled individuals and helped to establish the community program PossAbilities in Loma Linda. Dr. Brandstater’s exceptional care and devotion to those with disabilities has been commendable.
  • David Brinkman - 2017

    David Brinkman has been the CEO and President of Desert AIDS Project for over 10 years and has helped lead the organization through expansion that has increased the number of volunteers and clients, reaching more people with more services than ever before. Under his leadership, Desert AIDS Project established a dental clinic, a permanent supportive housing complex, a community center, a department of Community Health, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic, and a vocational program as well as achieved Federally Qualified Health Center status. David has served the not-for-profit community for over 23 years. He is a Specialist in Planned Giving, was the 2011 recipient of the HIV Provider Network HERO Award, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Health Assessment Resource Center (HARC) Board of Directors and the Policy Research Advisory Committee of the California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Center at UCLA. David also serves as a voice for community-based organizations and the local HIV/AIDS community. He is currently appointed to the City of Palm Springs’ Community Development Block Grant Citizen’s Advisory Committee and has previously served on the Editorial Board of The Desert Sun. David’s untiring work and incredible leadership has benefitted thousands and improved life for many Valley residents.
  • Veda Brooks - 2010

    Following a distinguished career in the Army, where she earned the Army Commendation, Army Achievement, Good Conduct, Meritorious Service and Kuwait Liberation Medals, Veda earned her degree and began a second career in health and social service. She is the founder of Destiny Homeless Ministries and OES Family Outreach Center, uniting faith-based organizations to serve the chronic homeless and displaced families. She not only oversees the day to day operations, but also fund raises, and advocates for the homeless. Her dream is to take her organization global, making a difference in communities throughout the world.
  • Toni Callicott - 2016

    Toni Callicott has served with many organizations in San Bernardino County and has given much of her time and energy to improving life and healthcare for its residents. She has served as CEO of American Red Cross Inland Empire Chapter, Past President of the Arrowhead United Way, past chair of the St. Bernardine Medical Center Foundation, to name a few. She is currently, a board member of Totally Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, chair-elect of the St. Bernardine Medical Center Community Board of Directors, and Chair of the Board for California Housing Foundation. CHF provides quality services and support programs designed to encourage and enable developmentally disabled persons achieve their highest possible level of personal independence, choice, and productivity. CHF has been working to create permanent homes for developmentally disabled persons, provide financial grants for independent living, and find new ways to serve Regional Center Clients. Toni and her team at CHF have the ability to find good properties, pull together the resources, and find a way to do quality renovations to make the homes livable and comfortable for the developmentally disabled. Their core values honor every person and deal with integrity, honesty, professionalism, and compassion in all they do, even with a sense of fun. Toni works tirelessly to improve the quality of life for others in need and have shown to go above and beyond in service to the community and the people in it.
  • Andrea Carter - 2017

    Andrea Carter is a veteran in the PR business and shares her expertise through service to various organizations. Andrea is the pro bono Public Relations Director and a member of the Board for the Patrick Warburton Celebrity Golf Tournament benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and recently wrapped up her 3-year term as president of the Sheltering Sisters Auxiliary Fundraising Board for Shelter From The Storm – the regional shelter for victims of domestic violence. She spent 5 years on the Board for DesertArc, and served on the Board for Women Leaders Forum. She is also an active member of the Advisory Board for the Girlfriend Factor. Andrea was named one of the “40 Under 40” rising young professionals in the region by Palm Springs Life magazine in 2010, and was also honored as one of the “Top 12 Most Interesting & Influential Women of the Coachella Valley” by CV Weekly magazine in 2016. Andrea is a graduate in the 2007 class of Leadership Coachella Valley. Andrea is a natural leader who is dedicated to service.
  • Vanessa Castro - 2010

    An outstanding student and very respected leader throughout her school years, Vanessa has been selected for numerous awards and responsibilities including being chosen by the school staff to escort Cesar Chavez on a tour of Cesar Chavez Elementary School as a fifth grader. A role model for her peers as well as her students, Vanessa is a doer. In addition to the demands of teaching elementary grades, she has served on the School Site Council, as After School Coordinator, Grade Level Chair, and PTO Fundraising committee. She has been nominated by her colleagues for Teacher of the Year three times. Her goal is to continue her education and create a tutoring center in the valley.
  • Nachhattar S. Chandi - 2011

    Mr. Chandi was born and raised in India where he was educated and challenged to take on the world of business. In fact, by the age of 17 he fully managed and operated a 167-employee/450-acre producing agricultural center. Now a resident and business owner in the Coachella Valley, he provides jobs for many local residents, often where there are few other employment opportunities. His first business here was a gas station, now the ARCO AM/PM in Coachella. This station set sales records and prepared Mr. Chandi to design, open, and operate the largest ARCO AM/PM in the world. The Mecca Travel Center now houses a number of other businesses and is the largest employer in the community of Mecca, giving hope to the community. His businesses set sales records, earn awards, and continually contribute to stable economic growth. He coordinates with local high schools to give students their first lessons in work experience. Mr. Chandi is an Angel on Earth, who has successfully impacted an entire community and he has a passion to continue serving with hopes to eventually help people worldwide.
  • Susana Chandi - 2018

    Susana Chandi is the COO and Co-Founder of Coachella Valley based company, Chandi Group USA Inc. With more than 26 businesses ranging from gasoline service stations to QSR’s (quick service restaurants) throughout the State of California, her company contributes to the employment of over 700 individuals. Not only is she an outstanding entrepreneur, but she’s also an active member of a myriad of charity & philanthropic groups. Susana has supported a vast array of organizations that assist the local Coachella Valley communities. She’s been an active affiliate of Steven’s Hope for Children, Dr. Carreon Foundation, Mecca & North Shore Community, Family YMCA of the Desert, Big Sisters Big Brothers of the Desert, Boys and Girls Club of the Coachella Valley, to name a few. Her love and generosity for her customers & community doesn’t stop there as she has also contributed to multiple Coachella Valley high schools extending from Mecca on the east side of the valley to Desert Hot Springs. Her businesses are members of the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce and sustain a strong connection with the communities they serve. Whether it’s from her humanitarian heart or by her business enterprise, Susana has continuously proven to be an example of brilliance and excellence.
  • Mike Chedester - 2015

    For the last 45 years, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens has provided unique learning experiences and educational opportunities for adults and children alike.  The educational purpose of the Living Desert is “To encourage desert conservation through preservation, education, and appreciation.”  Educational programs are tailored to suit all age groups and are designed to raise awareness of the issues surrounding conservation of the natural world.  Spanning the age groups with toddler programs like Me & You At the Zoo to adult continuing education classes at the Living Desert University enables The Living Desert to tailor its educational programming to the needs of the audience.  Programs give guests new perspectives and knowledge, and empower them to take positive actions to protect the plants and animals of the desert habitats.  Accepting on behalf of The Living Desert Educational Programs is Mike Chedester.  He was a classroom science teacher for 16 years before joining The Living Desert as Curator of Education in 2002. As Curator he directs the volunteer/docent program that includes 500 active members; 250 are trained interpreters. Mike is a NAI Certified Interpretive Trainer and Guide. He is also a professional member of AZA (Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums).  In March, he received the Golden Apple award from Palm Springs Unified School District, for his leadership in bringing quality educational programs to the students of the Coachella Valley.
  • Margit Chiriaco-Rusche - 2019

    Margit Chiriaco-Rusche has been a lifelong resident of the Coachella Valley and has worked diligently to improve the community. Her family company, Joseph L. Chiriaco, Inc. has long owned and operated the site known as Chiriaco Summit. Margit has been instrumental in making improvements to the site to better serve travelers and residents, putting her background in Political Science to use as she worked to secure a reliable water source and brought commercial power to the area. She ran for Congress and has used her contacts to help further important causes in the Coachella Valley. Margit has been involved in a variety of leadership roles including serving as a board member of DACE, President of the Chiriaco Summit County Water District, Vice President of California Women for Agriculture, a member of the new East Valley Coalition. She is also a COD Angel, supports Catholic charities in Mecca and Coachella, serves on the CV High Advisory Board and is working hard to begin a CV Agriculture Academy. One of her favorite projects is the General Patton Museum which honors those who served and trained at the Desert Training Center and promotes learning from past lessons to work for peace in the future. Margit’s incredible dedication to her community matches her energy and drive-she is working hard to get things done!
  • Troy Compton - 2010

    A long time ALA volunteer and role model for his peers and younger kids, Troy’s leadership skills have been evident throughout his school years. He was very active in a variety of team sports while excelling academically and participating in multiple extracurricular activities. From Boy Scouts to class VP, Troy has been a team player and leader. He joined ALA’s Junior Leader Program while in junior high school, and continued to participate in ALA Youth Leadership programs whenever possible throughout high school and college. Volunteering annually at the ALA Youth Leadership Conference, he encourages teens to develop their innate leadership skills and to take charge of their lives. Troy recently graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and is now embarking on his career as an engineer.
  • Congressman Paul Cook - 2017

    As a retired Marine Colonel with 26 years of service, one of Congressman Cook’s top priorities in Congress is ensuring veterans receive the benefits and support they earned while honorably serving their country. Congressman Cook was instrumental in implementing the Choice Act, legislation allowing some of our most vulnerable veterans to access critical medical care outside of the Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare system. He also fought to ensure continuous funding to the VA, ensuring veterans’ health and benefits would never be at risk in the case of a government shutdown. Congressman Cook has sponsored legislation that will boost veteran employment and preserve the dignity of the medals awarded to veterans for the sacrifices they’ve made protecting their country. His HR 3286, the HIRE Vets Act of 2016, is a bipartisan bill that will promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military by creating an awards program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers to hire and retain veterans. Congressman Cook also introduced HR 6234, the Private Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act, a bill that will protect the Purple Heart from falling into the hands of profiteers who buy and sell these medals as mere war memorabilia. This important legislation honors and preserves our national symbol of sacrifice and has earned the endorsement of dozens of Veteran’s Service Organizations.
  • Tim Cote - 2013

    Life isn’t always easy, but sometimes it is the difficulties that test our resolve, force us to examine our priorities and look outside of ourselves. Tim has faced many challenges in his life and has chosen to put his lessons to good use in the service of others. He has taught and mentored “at-risk” youth for many years, as part of churches, Christian schools, and non-profit organizations. His experience makes him genuine, and his love for the children is clear as he pushes them to develop self-esteem, confidence, and poise, and to create plans for their futures. Locally, Tim is involved with the Cross Community Church, Stepping Stones Learning Annex, and The Narrow Door. The Narrow Door provides food, clothing, and ministry to the homeless in the Valley. Service has provided Tim with purpose and drive, and his service has fed many hungry for food or direction.
  • Donna Craig - 2016

    The Desert Healthcare District is a public agency that supports health-related community programs and services within the Coachella Valley. The District has embraced the collective impact approach to address the Coachella Valley’s health and wellness needs, including food insecurity, mental health crisis, childhood obesity, health disparities, early treatment and rehabilitation of stroke, as well as prevention, early intervention, and management of diabetes. The Desert Healthcare Foundation is a nonprofit that provides support for healthcare and wellness services and programs. Kathy Greco is the CEO of the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation. She has been devoted to improving healthcare and it is under her direction that the District earned the 2014 Healthcare District of the Year for its successful community partnership to improve access to healthcare by addressing the shortage of healthcare workers, improving healthcare delivery infrastructure, and increasing the number of individuals with affordable health insurance. Kathy has receive leadership awards for her service to the District and to improving healthcare. Donna Craig is the Chief Grants Officer at the District. She oversees the grant-making program and provides recommendations for distribution of grant dollars. She is dedicated to improving healthcare across the Coachella Valley. These two leaders within the District are proving to be angels on earth to the entire healthcare district and beyond.

    dcraig@dhcd.org

  • Robert Craven - 2011

    Character and service are two words often associated with Mr. Robert Craven. Over thirty years ago, Robert and his wife Druscilla moved to the desert to establish an educational center that would provide a firm foundation in academics and character for young children. Together they developed The Learning Tree, which has been serving the Coachella Valley successfully for over thirty years. In addition to his service in education, Robert has served to bring structure and character to baseball. Throughout his son’s youth, Robert worked tirelessly with the Palm Desert Youth Sports Association by coaching, leading instructional clinics, and performing administrative duties. In his work with USA baseball as a coach and an advisor, he helped to establish a national character development program, “Championship Principles.” This “Volunteer Coach of the Year” is an Angel on Earth who is building character in our future generations.
  • Arthur D’Souza - 2013

    An entrepreneur with a service attitude, Arthur has shown he makes a positive impact on his community. His businesses here in the Valley not only provide full-time employment and health care to locals, they encourage employees to be fit and healthy through nutrition education, fitness classes, and more. During Arthur’s career he also worked as a rehabilitation caseworker, setting the process for injured workers to return to the workforce through motivation, retraining, and counseling. His volunteer work began in India where he served as a teacher and counselor in a school for boys. He has also worked in rural areas on farming projects, schooling for children, and economic development. Arthur’s focus on community building and maintaining a viable and healthy workforce makes him a leader and Angel on Earth in this community.
  • Richard DeSantis - 2016

    Richard DeSantis is the President and CEO of Event Management Productions. For the last 20+ years, he has partnered with virtually every major nonprofit charity in the valley and many on a national level. His goal is to increase the effectiveness of the marketing and fundraising aspects of charitable organizations so they can better meet the needs of the community. He is the Executive Producer of Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala show, Evening Under the Stars, Opera in the Park, Waring International Piano Competition Galas, Annenberg Foundation Events at Sunnylands Museum & Gardens, Prince Albert II of Monaco Awards, Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children events, Palm Springs Art Museum Galas, and many more. He has served on the Board of Directors of the La Quinta Arts Foundation and he has also served on the board of ACT for MS for over 16 years. ACT for MS has a comprehensive program of tools that allow the disease to be managed, since there is no treatment and no cure. Currently serving 87 active clients and their caregivers, ACT for MS has become the premier resource for people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the Coachella Valley. Richard’s dedication to improving the quality of life of others through expanding non-profit services and exposure makes him an angel on earth to the entire community.
  • Selby Dunham - 2017

    Selby Dunham is the founder of Bighorn BAM, a non-profit organization that has raised millions of dollars to elevate cancer care for the entire valley by supporting local cancer patients. Bighorn BAM (Behind a Miracle) has been raising money and providing support for cancer patients for more than 10 years. They have raised millions for cancer patient support services, diagnostic technology, and educational scholarships. They have helped to significantly advance healthcare through Eisenhower Medical Center, providing funding for the latest technology. They have also provided direct assistance to patients in the form of transportation, assistance with living expenses, assistance with medical costs, and education. Their support has helped thousands get better faster. Founder Selby is a breast cancer survivor and has put her seemingly endless energy into helping to make sure that more people get the cancer screening and care they need. Her enthusiasm and passion have ensured that others have the best resources available locally. Her genuine and heartfelt commitment are the driving force behind this amazing organization.
  • Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018

    It has always been important to Eric to give back to his community. As a Chiropractor, it is important to share his knowledge and experience with others. With a colleague, Eric developed an exercise class that even those who resist exercise are willing to do – and in the process has discovered the joy of helping others. He began his classes in Sun City, AZ, and his success there lead him to a program for people with special needs. Eric also donated his time and professional skills to high school students in AZ, and participated in a mentoring program for 7th graders in the role of a big brother. Eric grew up in the Coachella Valley and upon returning to the Valley, he got involved right away in community service. His previous experience in volunteering with youth led him to his current service work with the Rotary youth services programs. Eric continues his work with high schools, giving supplies, equipment, money and his expertise to athletes, as well as coaches, staff and band members. Currently, he volunteers his chiropractic services as Team Physician for two local high schools. With Rotary, he supports a high school math competition, 3rd grade backpack and dictionary drives, and the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards that sends high school juniors to a 3-day camp. He also heads up the Personal Rotary Youth Development Experience, a leadership camp for 7th graders, and the Four Way Test Speech Contest. Eric is truly committed to service – going above and beyond for the youth in his community.
  • Patrick Evans - 2014

    Patrick needs no introduction here in the Valley.  He has been the Chief Meteorologist for CBS Local 2 for more than a decade.  He also hosts, “Eye on the Desert,” which is a local entertainment show that showcases positive people, places, and events in and around the Coachella Valley. A strong believer in community service, Patrick serves on the Board of the Family YMCA of the Desert and the Desert Symphony, and previously served on the boards of the California Desert Chorale and the United Way of the Desert. Much of his public service involves emceeing a large number of events throughout the year here in the Coachella Valley, including serving as the Above & Beyond emcee the last 3 years. Music is a big influence in his life, particularly the music of Frank Sinatra. For that reason, Patrick also dedicates time to the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center whenever they call upon him. Earlier this year, Patrick received a Golden Palm Star for all he has done in the Coachella Valley. His heart is here in the desert and he has made an impact on organizations throughout the valley.
  • Melanie Fesmire - 2011

    As an attorney and community activist, Melanie has been involved in the City of Indio for almost 30 years. Her leadership includes 11 years on the Indio Planning Commission, two years with the Indio Central Improvement Association and the Neighborhood Housing Services, 15 years with the Indio Chamber of Commerce. She also served three terms each as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, and as city council member for 13 years. In addition to her service to the city, Melanie has held many committee and board appointments in the state, including League of California Cities Policy Committee, Riverside County Airport Land Use Commission, CVAG Transportation Committee, to name a few. Melanie is an Angel on Earth, who began her community service in the early 1970’s as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela, and has been dedicated to service ever since. She is an active member of Angel Light Academy, fostering partnerships to serve the youth of the Coachella Valley since 1998. She and her husband of 46 years, George Williams, are partners in a law firm which specializes in service to the under-represented, minority populations.
  • Maureen Forman - 2017

    Maureen Forman is the Executive Director of Jewish Family Service of the Desert and has focused her social work background on meeting the needs of the underserved by improving service delivery systems and collaborating with other agencies to deliver compassionate care to the entire Coachella Valley. She has served in multiple capacities in both inpatient and outpatient social service settings and has developed a program for uninsured patients to receive their medication on discharge to prevent re-hospitalization. She is also a social work field instructor for Cal State San Bernardino, Loma Linda, Brandman University, and USC. Maureen has also served on a number of planning committees including Martha’s Village Clinic, Volunteers In Medicine, Mental Health Stakeholders, multiple senior- needs panels and presentations, and most recently has worked with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative to develop a Collaborative of Agencies working with low income seniors. She is also the current vice chair of Coachella Valley Economic Partnership Workforce Excellence Mental Health Group, which is working to develop a career pathway for local high school and college students to enter the mental health job market here in the valley. Maureen has become an invaluable help to many in the Coachella Valley who would otherwise not receive the full and compassionate care they need.
  • Susan Francis - 2015

    The Ophelia Project, a program of Healthy Family Foundation since 1998, is a comprehensive five-year group-mentoring program serving hundreds of girls annually in 8th through 12th grade, in all three Unified School Districts in Coachella Valley. The goals of the Ophelia Project are to: increase grade point averages; reduce drop-out rates; reduce absenteeism, build self-esteem; increase graduation rates; increase parent engagement in their child’s academics; promote higher education pursuing college or trade school; encourage career goal setting; and receive scholarship assistance.  The objective is to encourage young girls to acquire the skills necessary to make their dreams a reality.  Over 100 highly trained volunteer mentors and guest- speakers work with the girls twice a month for 4-6 hours at a time. The Ophelia Project empowers and encourages teenage girls to increase their sense of self-worth and maximize their potential contribution to society.  Susan Francis, Chief Executive Officer of Ophelia, has over 25 years of experience in the Desert, working in the areas of education, health, the arts and serving at-risk youth and families from underserved populations through a variety of programs she has overseen.  Over the last 12 years as CEO, her tireless efforts have ensured that the program has maintained its highest level of quality while growing into all the local high schools.  She is an angel on earth, giving hope to thousands of young girls.
  • Annette Garcia & Dave DiMeno - 2019

    Dave DiMeno and Annette Garcia are an integral part of the Coachella Valley Horse Rescue, serving as President and Vice President/Rescue Director respectively. CVHR rescues and rehabilitates horses that have been neglected, abandoned, or abused. Their volunteers dedicate time and energy to work with horses and people, creating bonds and healing hurts. They also partner with other organizations to enrich their programs and give children and adults experience in horse care and riding. Annette has volunteered with CVHR for 13 years and also serves as Volunteer Trainer and Program Leader. She trains and rehabilitates horses, and works hard to connect children, adults, and veterans with horses to build confidence and trust. Dave is a U.S. Marine Veteran and recently began a veteran’s program. Veterans gain strength and confidence as they learn to take horses through challenges. The trusting relationships they build with the horses help them to transition from military to civilian life. Veterans feel calmer, more peaceful, and more like themselves after spending such quality time with the horses. Dave and Annette each have a passion for animals and their hearts are devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating horses while also helping people heal and grow. They have become angels for animals and people alike!
  • Caleb Gervin - 2012

    Caleb is a young man who takes service seriously, all the while showing how fun service can be. At the Learning Tree Center in Palm Desert he is known simply as “Coach” and he is an example of kindness, patience, leadership, fun, and sportsmanship. He makes sports fun and accessible to children of all ages and skill levels. Once a professional basketball player in the American Basketball Association, he now serves a higher calling with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. With FCA, he works in local schools helping to provide prayer, food, fellowship, and encouragement. He also helps raise scholarships for student athletes, provides peer outreach, trains athletes in the fundamental skills they’ll need to succeed on the basketball court and in life. Caleb hopes to create a recreational-sports facility where tutoring and sports training would meet to equip student athletes to deal with college sports. This servant-leader provides a positive example for young athletes that will build leaders on and off the court.
  • Owen and Audrey Gillick - 2014

    In their 62 years of marriage, Owen and Audrey have each done much to serve their communities.  However, it is the work they’ve done together that really stands out.  Owen is a retired Colonel and did many years of both overseas and stateside duty as a Marine.  He has also been heavily involved with Copper Mountain College as it has formed and grown over the years, and has worked to improve the effectiveness of non-profit and public service agencies.  Audrey also taught at Copper Mountain College and has been active in the art community, including the City of 29 Palms Public Arts Advisory Committee establishing the framework for the city’s support of the arts. She has also curated several shows at the 29 Palms Art Gallery. Together, they were founding members of the Action Council for 29 Palms, a community mural program. They were also founding members of the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council, dedicated to bringing together and enhancing the performing and visual arts in the basin. Their work has included an annual tour of artist studios throughout the basin, an effort that has brought regional attention to a thriving visual and performing arts culture. Owen and Audrey’s efforts have touched the lives of many and enriched the culture of their community for the past, present, and future generations.
  • Kathy Greco - 2016

    The Desert Healthcare District is a public agency that supports health-related community programs and services within the Coachella Valley. The District has embraced the collective impact approach to address the Coachella Valley’s health and wellness needs, including food insecurity, mental health crisis, childhood obesity, health disparities, early treatment and rehabilitation of stroke, as well as prevention, early intervention, and management of diabetes. The Desert Healthcare Foundation is a nonprofit that provides support for healthcare and wellness services and programs. Kathy Greco is the CEO of the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation. She has been devoted to improving healthcare and it is under her direction that the District earned the 2014 Healthcare District of the Year for its successful community partnership to improve access to healthcare by addressing the shortage of healthcare workers, improving healthcare delivery infrastructure, and increasing the number of individuals with affordable health insurance. Kathy has receive leadership awards for her service to the District and to improving healthcare. Donna Craig is the Chief Grants Officer at the District. She oversees the grant-making program and provides recommendations for distribution of grant dollars. She is dedicated to improving healthcare across the Coachella Valley. These two leaders within the District are proving to be angels on earth to the entire healthcare district and beyond.
  • Victory Grund - 2019

    Victory Grund discovered a passion for art in 2009 and had the dream to provide art for all ages and for the disadvantaged. Victory found solace and healing in art when she went through difficult times and she dreamed of providing a healing and safe place for others. She wanted to pass along the healing nature of art to others, no matter the art medium or the person. Her vision became a reality when she and her husband, family, donors, staff, volunteers, and other nonprofit leaders helped to start Old Town Artisan Studios Art Campus. The Campus provides a peaceful place for all who participate, the nature and calming atmosphere add to the restorative effect. OTASAC provides affordable art classes to all. They offer instructor-led art classes in clay, glass or bisque to all the communities of the Coachella Valley. Students range from those with special needs, disadvantaged children to young adults and seniors. Students come alive, finding immense joy in new outlets for self-expression and personal creativity. With increased Studio classes and their unique Mobile Art Van, allowing them to partner with local schools, senior centers and a wide variety of local non-profits, they expect to reach their goal of serving over 9,000 art experience this year! Old Town Artisan Studio is committed to providing positive art experiences for all people despite age, disability or financial disadvantage. Victory’s vision is not finished just yet-she hopes to add culinary arts and theater arts to her programs, reaching more people with more outlets for creativity.
  • Cirenia Guerrero - 2013

    Cirenia has been the energetic voice and personality of fashion, entertainment, sports, news, and fun for both Spanish and English speaking fans for many years. She grew up in the Coachella Valley and it has always been important for her to give in service to her community. Cirenia has held various board of director positions to assist others in business development, marketing, and career guidance. It is important to her to assist others in finding their passion and becoming successful. She is currently the host of a popular radio show and has started “Charge It Up,” a motivational company that inspires others to reach their full potential. She is full of life, enthusiasm, and drive and she encourages others to tackle life with the same enthusiasm.
  • Pauline Hennessey - 2012

    Pauline’s dedication to leadership and child development has provided hope. As Director of Developmental Care and Patient Services at Totally Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, she is responsible for the care and development of 50 medically fragile and technology dependent children. Unsatisfied with simply meeting the physical needs of her patients, Pauline developed and implemented a Developmental Care Program, tying leadership and problem solving to the care and services each child receives. The program was awarded “Program of the Year” by the Speech, Language and Hearing Association of California in 2011 and Pauline hopes it will become a “standard of care” for pediatric and adult long-term care facilities. Pauline also facilitates ALA’s Leadership Training Institute. She has taken the Junior Leader Training program to new heights as an example of leadership in action. Students learn leadership by tackling problems, making positive changes in their lives, and providing service in the community. With Pauline working to develop young leaders, there truly is hope for the future.
  • Mike Hestrin - 2014

    Over the years, much of Mike’s legal work has been centered around children.   As the Trial Team Leader for the DA’s Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit, he prosecuted those who targeted and abused children. Assisting on child abuse cases came naturally to him, as his mother was an advocate for the abused.  Mike has also trained prosecutors, paralegals, law enforcement, Riverside County Bar Association members, and social workers in ethics, trial advocacy, sex offender prosecution, homicide prosecution, and capital case litigation.  While teaching at Azusa Pacific University, he has also volunteered as a mentor to college students interested in going into a career in law.  He has worked closely with the Latino Student Organization to encourage students to consider careers in law and law enforcement.  As President and Vice-President of the Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Association, he has helped to reshape the organization into one that reaches out to the community to fundraise for college scholarships and to assist Riverside County organizations that are child-centered.  Giving back to the community in this way ensures that organizations can continue to serve children throughout Riverside County.  Mike’s dedication to helping children, and the organizations that help children, shows compassion and leadership.
  • Paul Hoffman - 2019

    Paul Hoffman has been an active member of the Yucca Valley Community for over forty years. After retiring as a Major in the Marines, he and his wife Cheryl devoted themselves to serving their community. He has done extensive work with the Yucca Valley Park Commission, Yucca Valley Municipal Advisory Council, Joshua Tree Rotary Club, the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce, and many other worthy organizations who are improving the quality of life for High Desert residents. One of his many projects was in helping to establish the Yucca Valley Little League and building the Little League Park in Yucca Valley. In 1996, he received the Distinguished Service Award from Little League Baseball for 15 years of dedicated service to youth. Paul was chairperson for the “Toma” project for Yucca Valley High School in 1988 and 2001, where he and his project team brought drug awareness to Yucca Valley High School. It was a crucial project providing assistance to over 265 students in the High Desert. Paul has served on many boards, organized many events, and helped to establish non-profits to benefit the community time and again. His role as a mentor has positively impacted people and organizations as they’ve worked to meet their full potential. He has spent a lifetime as a dedicated and hardworking volunteer for his community!
  • Elaine Holmes - 2019

    Elaine Holmes has been an active member of the Coachella Valley for many years and has served in many capacities. When Elaine moved to the Valley she joined the Indio Chamber of Commerce and became committed to helping the city. As the owner of PJ’s Desert Trophies and Gifts, she understands the importance of supporting local business. She hopes to improve the city by supporting small business and building the downtown area into a beautiful and vital place. Elaine is currently serving on the Indio City Council and her many assignments and projects help to improve the community. She serves as a member of the Association of California Water Agencies Local Government Committee; Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitor’s Bureau; Coachella Valley Economic Partnership; Energy & Environmental Resources, CVAG Homeless Committee; East Valley Coalition; Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy Board, and 2x2 Committees for the City of Indio and the Coachella Valley Unified School District, Desert Sands Unified School District, College of the Desert, Desert Recreation District, and Coachella Valley Water District. The work she is most proud of is with local schools and businesses. Elaine’s dedication to improving her city, increasing safety, and creating opportunities has shown she is an invaluable leader!
  • Jackie Lee Houston - 2011

    Jackie has a long history of angelic action! She has been repeatedly honored for her tireless contributions to local charities. To honor her for her service, the mayor of Palm Springs declared June 27th, her birthday, Jackie Lee Houston Day. His proclamation stated that “her generosity has improved the quality of life for many of our less fortunate citizens; and her compassion and positive attitude have inspired others to become more involved in fund-raising activities for deserving charities.” She has been named Distinguished Woman of the Year by Northwood University and 37th Senate District Woman of the Year. She has chaired numerous fundraising galas in the valley, supporting the elderly, the arts, music, and film, local museums, and hospitals. As an owner of KPSP Channel 2, which serves the desert communities daily, she is one of two women in the nation who own a television station. As genuine and committed community supporters, Jackie and her husband Jim give countless hours, boundless energy, and generous donations to organizations that serve Valley residents. Jackie Lee Houston is an Angel on Earth, who leads by example and makes a positive difference with each generous action.
  • Lisa Houston - 2015

    FIND Food Bank has been a consistent resource for the hungry since 1983. FIND is the regional food bank serving all of eastern Riverside County, from Banning to Blythe, and from Joshua Tree to the Salton Sea. Under Lisa Houston’s direction it has grown to become a stable and reliable source of food for 90,000+ hungry each month.  Lisa began as a volunteer and grew to love the organization and its purpose.  She is now President and CEO and has been able to grow the organization, improve its financial situation, and help provide food for more than 100 organizations that serve the needy. Places that benefit from FIND include The Well in the Desert, Martha’s Village and Kitchen, Mizell Senior Center, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and many more. FIND also offers an outreach and case management program that shares information and connections to resources intended to help people cover more of their household expenses, and thereby have more money available to meet their nutrition needs. Lisa’s focus is on community and she hopes that more people will become aware of how many people are affected by hunger and that they will volunteer to take action against hunger.   Lisa’s dedication and drive have made her an angel on earth to many in need.

    lhouston@dhcd.org

  • Suz Hunt - 2017

    Suz Hunt was a successful business woman for over 30 years in the insurance industry and has used her expertise to assist non-profit organizations since moving to the Coachella Valley over 10 years ago. Always focused on service and philanthropy, Suz has volunteered countless hours with numerous organizations throughout the Coachella Valley. Since 2009, Suz has been a member of various committees for the Waring International Piano Competition. The Waring International Piano Competition gives children and young adults the opportunity to jumpstart their musical careers and has an outreach program to bring classical music to schools. Additionally, Suz has made a huge impact by serving on the Boards for the College of the Desert Foundation and ACT for MS. Her work with the COD Foundation has helped thousands of students, most of which are the first in their families to attend college. The students she helps are able to get financial assistance, get the education they need, and then work in the Coachella Valley. ACT For MS helps valley residents with multiple sclerosis live longer, better quality lives. They offer many services and often provide financial assistance for families in need. They currently serve over 100 clients. Suz has always been dedicated to improving lives here in the Coachella Valley and she is an inspiration to all who know her.
  • George And Nancy Huntington - 2018

    George and Nancy Huntington have devoted their lives to being in service in the Hi-Desert Community. They have worked tirelessly to improve their community while raising their family, working as business owners, and volunteering in a variety of community activities. George designed the Tri Valley Little League fields, co-drafted a Community Park Vision, designed the Boys and Girls Club and its expansion, and worked on the Brehm Youth Sports Park. He dedicated two years to creating the Old Town Gateway Plan and served the public as the Planning Commissioner for the Town of Yucca Valley, was twice elected to the Town Council, and served twice as Mayor. Nancy’s community service has included 24 years as a Director for the Boys and Girls Club of the High Desert and six years as Secretary and Compliance Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club Inland Empire Coalition. Nancy’s love for her community has also driven her to serve with many organizations including the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce, Town of Yucca Valley’s Community Center Authority, the Hi-Desert Water District’s Blue Ribbon Committee the Hi-Desert Medical Center’s strategic planning committee, the Desert Regional Tourism Agency, and the California Welcome Center. Nancy has been a Director on the Board of the Copper Mountain College Foundation since 2010 and is currently serving as Chair of the Board Development Committee. Their work has made their community a better place to live and their service will continue to impact residents for many years to come.
  • Colleen Johnson - 2011

    Colleen’s commitment to youth drives her community involvement. She is an activist, serving as PTA President and Board member for 12 years, working with the Food Bank of Southern California, and with Sunshine Kids. She received a congressional award for her work to rebuild a local playground, was Chairperson for Adventures in Art, and AYSO board member for six years. Colleen is an Angel on Earth, who began her servant leadership at a young age. While in high school, she served as Class President and Vice President for several years, earning a Rotary Club leadership award, and was selected for Girls’ State. In the future, Colleen aspires to continue community service and be an example to her children who make her strive to be a better person.
  • Jennie Kelly - 2012

    Jennie has been dedicated to preserving history and natural beauty in the Coachella Valley for many years. She currently spends her time as the Founder, Executive Director, and Board President of the Salton Sea History Museum and Visitor Center. Her focus there is to preserve the history of the Salton Sea and North Shore and to do what she can to ensure Salton Sea restoration. Jennie also serves on the board of the Sea and Desert Interpretive Association, which manages the activities of the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. She was appointed Historical Commissioner, Supervisorial District 4, by Supervisor Roy Wilson. Jennie has worked actively with other preservationists to help the Coachella Valley to hold on to its rich history and natural beauty. She is a true angel on earth to the Salton Sea, North Shore, and the history of the Coachella Valley!
  • Roberta Klein - 2017

    Roberta Klein is the founder and president of the Read With Me program. This program brings over 700 volunteers into East Valley schools to help over 3,400 students with reading and English Language skills. Roberta and a group from Sacred Heart Church met with community leaders and the superintendent of the Coachella Valley Unified School District about how they could help students in the East Valley. The request was for English-speaking role models to work with students on reading and language skills. For more than 12 years, volunteers have been riding buses, coordinated by Roberta, to the schools and spending time working with students who need extra assistance with reading, writing, and speaking in English. They also provide new books for students, and help fund supplies, field trips, and special projects. The students love the extra attention and teachers love the extra help provided by the volunteers. Read With Me has received the Golden Bell award from the California School Board Association for its efforts in Coachella Valley Unified School District. Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz presented each participating school and volunteer group with a Congressional Certificate of Recognition in 2016. Roberta is truly making a difference in the lives of students, teachers, and volunteers with this amazing program.
  • Craig Gahnz Kuhar - 2015

    As Vocal Music Director at Palm Desert Charter Middle School and Palm Desert High School for the past nine years, Craig has built a Vocal Music and Choir Program that includes 5 choirs with 200 students from grades 6-12.  The Program stresses excellence in musicianship, academic success, citizenship, and community service.  This program of excellence is a reflection of its director.  As a performer, Craig has appeared in the Tony-Award-winning production of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway and has performed with the Minnesota Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Dayton Opera, Theatre Under the Stars, and Chanhassen Theatre.  Craig has developed award-winning choirs that have traveled nationally and internationally to perform in places such as the Basilica of St. Mark, Kennedy Center, Ground Zero, Australia, and Hawaii.  This year they will travel to London for the Heritage Choral Festival.  In addition to grooming young singers to become excellent young men and women, Craig also works diligently for the Palm Desert High School Musical Boosters.  The Boosters host fundraisers in order to offer all students the musical, cultural, and travel opportunities offered by the Vocal Music Program.  Craig’s leadership and example has been an inspiration to many young singers.
  • Lynda Lake - 2012

    An educator in every sense of the word, this angel on earth has worked for the Palm Springs Unified School District as a Teacher, Principal, and as Founder and Principal of the first Charter School in Palm Springs. She has received multiple awards including Teacher of the Year, Citizen of the Year, Principal of the Year, and the Pursuit of Excellence Award. Her elementary school has received the honor of being an Apple Distinguished School for three years and a California Distinguished School. As a principal, Lynda naturally makes a difference in young lives. She goes above and beyond by encouraging her students to care for others. Her school and students partner with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775 and send care packages for them while they are deployed. They also partner with the Mizell Senior Center. Students teach seniors to use technology and the seniors tutor the students in academics. Building relationships, helping others, and working toward a common goal are what keep Lynda motivated to lead local youth toward a better future.
  • Peggy Sue Lane - 2016

    As an executive in the title and escrow industry, Peggy Sue has been a partner with the real estate community for more than 28 years. Serving the Southern California real estate and development industry, Peggy Sue is known for her strong understanding of commercial, luxury residential, industrial, hospitality, energy and tribal properties. A local Coachella Valley resident for more than 35 years, Peggy Sue Lane has deep roots within our Valley. A recognized community leader, Peggy Sue serves on a number of real estate and community Boards; including College of the Desert Foundation, Academic Angels of the College of the Desert, Board Member and 2014 Chair of the Desert Area Commercial Investment Exchange, and 2008 Graduate of Leadership Coachella Valley, four year board member and Chairwoman of the LCV Board in 2012. Additionally, Peggy Sue has been a committed volunteer to a variety of local organizations for many years, including Desert Valley Builders Association, California Desert Association of Realtors and 18 years with the Desert Town Hall Speakers Series. Peggy Sue is often sought after as a speaker and presenter, offering her insights and understanding of the ever changing Coachella Valley and Southern California real estate landscape. Peggy Sue is deeply passionate about helping others reach their fullest potential and is an angel on earth to everyone who meets her.

    PsLane@firstam.com

  • Risseth Lora - 2019

    Risseth Lora has been an integral part of the Family YMCA of the Desert. The Family YMCA of the Desert is the largest provider of licensed childcare in the Coachella Valley, with facilities from Palm Springs to Mecca. They serve over 3,500 local kids and families each day at their forty-one sites. They also provide a variety of programs, camps, and other events and activities for members of our community. The primary focus of the Y is to reinforce caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility while also helping kids to develop social skills, confidence, leadership, and fitness. Risseth currently sits on the Executive Board for YMCA of the Desert as Captain of the Marketing and PR Team. Risseth was involved with the YMCA as a child and understands the importance and value of their programs. The YMCA programs helped her to gain confidence and self-esteem and she is devoted to making sure the next generation has access to the same life-changing assistance. She has been able to use her expertise in marketing to help the YMCA to grow and serve more of the community. A veteran of the advertising industry for nearly 20 years, Risseth is a true hybrid of the industry. Her career began in the public relations field and quickly morphed into marketing for several high-end developments and real estate developers, most notably the Irvine Company. Since then, her areas of focus have expanded along with her role as Vice President of Operations for JNS Next, Creative and Media Hub. Risseth is grateful to be able to use her experience to help the YMCA with their marketing campaigns and serves as a leader and an angel on Earth to their organization.
  • Rosa Lucas - 2019

    Rosa Lucas is a founding board member of Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine, a non-profit providing a local solution to a national problem. CVVIM provides access to healthcare at no cost to adults in the Coachella Valley who are uninsured or under-insured. They provide primary medical and dental care, address chronic conditions, and treat acute conditions such as colds and flus. They also provide health education, wellness programs, case management, and community referrals for patients. Patients are encouraged to schedule appointments rather than to visit the emergency room, providing quality care without the high costs for patients and reducing the strain on overcrowded emergency rooms. Rosa is the driving force of the Homeless Medical Outreach project, which she initiated in the spring of 2016, and remains active with as a team leader. Rosa is also a member of the Clinical Care committee. Rosa’s heart is with the farm workers and other medically underserved community members, especially in the East Valley. She is a Spanish-speaking nurse practitioner who has dedicated herself to providing compassionate health care. Her goal is to see that everyone has access to healthcare and she works with like-minded professionals and community members to accomplish this goal. Rosa’s selfless and tireless service improves the quality of life for many in the Coachella Valley.
  • Rafael Luna - 2010

    Rafael began earning academic excellence awards in elementary school and has not stopped. At Indio High School of Desert Sands Unified School District, Rafael is a 4.0 student, excels in sports, and gives in service to his community. An ALA Junior Leader since he was seven, Rafael has developed his leadership skills through action. He participates in ALA fundraising events, contributes to curriculum development for ALA Junior Leader and Youth Leadership Conference programs, initiated a Junior Leader program in Phoenix, teaching the children what he has learned about leadership and communication. His goal is to attend college, join the Navy and later help youth like himself to realize their potential.
  • Robyn Madala - 2013

    Working with very young children is a joy and a challenge not taken on by many. Robyn’s commitment to children makes her a leader in her field. She has taught at the Preschool and Kindergarten levels for many years, creating balanced environments to help the children grow and promoting learning in all areas-Spiritual, Mental, and Physical. Robyn develops and implements enrichment programs, Church programs, and music programs. She works with special needs children as well. Robyn is dedicated to allowing children to explore, learn, and grow into their greatest potential. Her dream is to open a parent participation school in which tuition is paid through volunteer work at the school. This would involve parents and the community in the learning process, an educator’s dream. Robyn’s patience and willingness to reach out to the very young make her an Angel to many.
  • Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018

    Dr. Tamela Martin is a first-rate doctor of ophthalmology whose background in leadership and service have helped her to provide the best quality care for her patients. Dr. Martin’s practice includes surgical ophthalmology and oculoplastics, trauma ophthalmology ER for eye lacerations, oculoplastic repairs and orbital blowout fractures. She is also responsible for establishing Eisenhower Medical Center’s eye outpatient surgery center and is the director of the Eisenhower Medical Center’s Surgical Ophthalmology program. Dr. Martin’s experiences in 4H as a young person taught her the importance of service and leadership. It gave her the foundation for wanting to give back to the community. Medicine is her vehicle for giving and she works diligently to help people to the best of her ability. She has devoted her life to one of service through medicine. Her patients feel her compassion and trust in her exceptional care. She has improved the quality of life for countless individuals and has shown leadership and excellence in her field.
  • Rev. Dr. Tahlib McMicheaux - 2014

    As a pastor of the First Community Baptist Church, he has worked tirelessly to improve the way resources are delivered to those in need. While attending to the spiritual needs of his community, the Reverend has also become a bridge between neighborhoods and local government to help improve services. He has served on many community service boards, faith councils, partnerships, and health partnerships, always with the vision and hand up to help those in need. Tahlib was instrumental in getting the Palm Springs Gang Task Force started and has served with the Anderson Foundation, Rotary International, and the American Cancer Society. He has been honored with many community service awards, the Valley Leadership distinguished service award, and the Spirit of the Desert award from KESQ. As Tahlib continues his work, he hopes to unify local churches and government agencies to reform how resources are delivered to the homeless, desperate, and disenfranchised.  His commitment to serving those in need has kept him active and involved.  Rev. Dr. Tahlib has continuously gone above and beyond to meet the needs of his community and he shows no sign of slowing down.
  • Dr. Farah Meadows - 2019

    Dr. Farah Meadows has been a dedicated teacher for 18 years. She is currently the Activities Director at Indio High School where she works on improving the school’s culture and climate, develops student leaders, and creates lasting memories for the students. As a teacher, she has worked with numerous groups, such as: ASB (Student government), Renaissance, Gay Straight Alliance, Black Student Union, Bettering Ourselves with Sisterhood, Link Crew and WEB Student Mentor Programs, AVID, Friday Night Live (Drug and Alcohol prevention), dance, cheer, Stay Strong female empowerment, and much more. Her devotion to making a difference makes her the kind of teacher that inspires students and other teachers to be great. Dr. Meadows is also the proud mom of two sons. After she lost her oldest son in a tragic car accident, she decided to honor her son by being in service. She works with other Angel Moms who have experienced child loss, serves the homeless with Street Life Project, and works with several youth leadership programs like Future Leaders to help empower youth. She hopes that she can inspire youth to find and pursue their purpose in life, become the best versions of themselves, and become change agents who will better this world. Farah has truly turned her pain into purpose, and when she could have given up, she decided to give back.
  • Isabel Megli - 2012

    Isabel is the founder and CEO of White Rock Horse Rescue and Retirement, a non-profit organization that helps unwanted and abused horses. The horses arrive in various states of physical and psychological deprivation or simply because owners can no longer keep their animals. Isabel has created a sanctuary so the great animals can find respite, healing, and hopefully a new family. Isabel combines her love for horses with her love for children by offering riding groups, Mommie and Me activities, Kids Horse Camp, and volunteer opportunities for youth. She teaches the care and rehabilitation of horses along with horsemanship and the skills needed to take on the responsibilities of horse ownership. Her commitment to horses and her willingness to share her passion with children make her an angel to many.
  • Cindy Melland - 2015

    Cindy Melland has spent the last 30 years helping to shape the high desert into a community, with groups working together to meet common needs.  She is the publisher of the Hi Desert Publishing Company, which puts out the Hi-Desert Star, The Desert Trail, The Desert Entertainer, and many more. Cindy has served on the Basin Wide Foundation for many years and has been instrumental in creating many of the programs and services they provide.  When she started with the Foundation, her love of sports and her appreciation of the importance of public services drove her to help create a multi-sports park and multi-field park; this one with a derby flat track, playground, concession stand, and the Miracle League Field which is built so that children with special needs can play baseball.   In addition, her leadership on the Foundation has helped to establish a California Welcome Center, the Desert Regional Tourism Program, the “Sky’s the Limit” program, and the Morongo Basin Haven which helps the homeless.  The Foundation also supports “Dreams for Kids,” a source of services for children in the Family Services protective program.  The Foundation is also a source of social welfare networking and work improvement.  Cindy’s leadership has been a source of inspiration for countless causes and has improved the quality of life in the Morongo Basin.
  • Randall Miller - 2012

    Randall is a dedicated member of Modern Woodmen of America, a Fraternal Financial Institution. Modern Woodmen helps to provide financial security with life insurance, annuity, investment, and banking products. They also seek to improve the quality of family life with local activities, provide information for personal and community services, help raise money for organizations, fund school programs, and sponsor events. Randall is a committed volunteer and works hard to serve and strengthen his community. He has also coached youth basketball and served as a mentor for Cathedral City High School journalism class. Randall goes above and beyond in everything he does to build a brighter future for this community.
  • Jerry Moe - 2019

    Over thirty years ago, Jerry Moe began developing a program to support children who are affected by addiction in loved ones. The program was launched at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City with the goal of preventing kids from going down the same road as their parents and grandparents. It worked, not just helping the kids, but helping the addicts in their lives to get clean and lead more fulfilling and healthy lives. In 1996, former first lady Betty Ford approached Jerry about bringing his program to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s recovery center in Rancho Mirage. He is now the director of their program, which serves children in-house, at the center on the Eisenhower Medical Center Campus. Additionally, Jerry runs programs in local elementary schools. Jerry is also an Advisory Board Member of the National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA). He is an author, lecturer, and trainer on issues for children and families hurt by addiction. He was featured in the Emmy award winning Nick News special “Under the Influence: Children of Addiction”. Jerry also recently appeared on NBC Nightly News to discuss the opioid/heroin epidemic and its impact on children. Jerry has spent a lifetime helping children impacted by addiction to go beyond their circumstances and lead healthy lives.
  • Ruth Moir - 2016

    The Steinway Society’s mission is to promote excellence in piano performance and music education and to develop audiences for the musical arts.  They do this by partnering with schools and local organizations to bring music and music education to children who would otherwise not have the experience.  They are the only organization providing comprehensive music education programs and serve 40 Coachella Valley schools and more than 20,000 students each year.  Programs provide concerts in schools, music instruction, musical instrument instruction, introductions to the orchestra and symphony, and an outreach program, which provides pianos and piano lessons to those with financial need.  Their workshops and mentoring programs for middle and high school students encourage students to continue their musical education.  Ruth founded the Steinway Society in 2002.  This followed a musical career that included teaching music, performing in the San Francisco Bay area, writing commercials, and appearing on television for over 14 years.  She was an Emmy nominee in 1980 and has appeared on many children’s shows.  As a representative of Youth in Arts in Marin County, she wrote and produced a series of musical comedies for children, one of which was made into a television show an aired annually for four years.  Ruth’s commitment to children and to furthering musical education has gone above and beyond and she has been recognized by her community for her excellence.
  • Shay Moraga - 2019

    Shay Moraga’s journey with cancer changed her life forever. Once focused on her property management company, she stepped down from day-to-day operations to focus on her health. That shift in focus led her to where she is today. Shay’s projects focus on wellness, spiritual growth and cancer support. She owns a local business called Namaste With Shay – a mobile yoga company that comes to you or your place of business that teaches yoga and mindful meditation. Additionally, you can find her teaching on the spin bike in one of her high-energy classes or coaching teen and tweens yoga workshops based on mindfulness and self-love. Closer to her heart are the yoga classes she leads for cancer patients, survivors and those effected by cancer at both Cancer Partners, and at Eisenhower’s Lucy Curci Center, known as Yoga for Cancer. Shay is an advocate for the Women’s Breast Center Lunch Group, sits newly on the board of both Desert Cancer Foundation and The Girl Friend Factor. She is a previous member of the GFF Advisory Board and Past Board member of the Junior League Palm Springs. She is a volunteer with the American Cancer Society, still an active member of Junior League of Palm Springs and local Lululemon Ambassador. Shay’s dedication to assisting others to improve their health and wellness has made her an angel on earth those she touches.
  • Tanya Moreno -2018

    Tanya Moreno grew up in the Coachella Valley and had difficult times as a child. She and her family were shown kindness by the community and were able to get what they needed from the generosity of friends and neighbors. Even when her family were in need, they spent their time volunteering to help others in need. Tanya was impacted by the love and support given to her by the community and she chose to pay it forward. She began at the age of 12 as a YMCA Camp Counselor and continued as she grew to be involved in gathering clothing, food, and hygiene items for those in need. When her friend’s daughter was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, she quickly became an advocate and voice for the family and later served as President for the Desi Strong Foundation, serving families whose children have cancer. Tanya serves the community in every way that she can. She knows how difficult it is to ask for help, so dedicates her time to be a voice for those in need by assisting with gathering resources and support. Tanya’s passion to help has touched the lives of many and she will continue to find ways to improve her community and help those less fortunate than herself.
  • Lynn Moriarty - 2014

    As the Former Executive Director of Shelter from the Storm, Lynn helped change countless lives for the better. She spent her career advocating for victims of domestic violence and working to protect them and give them the hand they needed to move forward.  At Shelter from the Storm, she founded the Edra Blixseth Community Counseling Center, the Florence Rigdon Long Term Transitional Housing Program, and the emergency shelter-based Indian Wells Medical Clinic. Lynn has written and spoken extensively on family violence, served on domestic violence advisory boards, and child and elder abuse councils, all in an effort to improve lives and put an end to family violence. Lynn has been honored many times for her efforts, including recognition from the United States Congress, the United States Senate, Riverside County, and the National Women’s Leadership Conference. She is also a Leadership Coachella Valley Participating Faculty Member. During Lynn’s 35 years of service, she has shown time and time again that she has the heart and the will to put an end to domestic violence.
  • Paul Morway - 2014

    When children enter elementary school, they are fortunate if they come across a teacher as dedicated as Mr. Morway. During his 16 years of teaching, he has not only worked to provide high quality education for his students, he has served his school and community in many ways. In the classroom, he is passionate about seeing children connect to literature and to history. At school, he serves on the Intervention Committee, helping to make sure student needs are met; the School Gardens Team; the Science Committee; and the Fundraising Committee.  He is also a mentor for new teachers, providing guidance and helping them to become effective.  Paul is involved with F.I.N.D. Food Bank and the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission to promote youth awareness of those in need and to encourage the joy of giving. Paul’s fellow teachers have also noticed his leadership and dedication to improving student lives and voted him Teacher of the Year. His devotion to expanding student views and talents is commendable.
  • Cameron Moulton - 2017

    Cameron Moulton is the Director of Development and Training at Christopher’s Clubhouse and has worked with thousands of children, women, and elderly teaching them important skills to stay safe. Cameron began this work early on when, at age 13, he become the youngest instructor in the nationally renowned program RADKIDS. His dedication has not wavered and he has since become a certified instructor for many RAD (Resisting Aggression Defensively/Rape Aggression Defense) programs assisting men, women, and children. He also collaborates with United Cerebral Palsy of the Inland Empire to teach disabled students defense. He is a lead instructor for all programs offered at Christopher’s Clubhouse and in the Always Be Safe Assembly program, which teaches thousands of children each year how to be safe. Cameron has developed new programs and trains all instructors. He is truly an angel on earth to the thousands who have learned to defend themselves, be safe in any situation, and have the confidence to feel secure.
  • Mika Moulton - 2012

    Mika’s dedication to keeping children safe makes her an angel to many. In 1995, Mika’s young son, Christopher, was kidnapped and murdered. Her grief turned to action and she founded and continues to operate Christopher’s Clubhouse, a non-profit devoted to child safety. Safety Education Programs teach children how to respond in a variety of situations including home safety and abduction. The programs give children the confidence and skills to go beyond their fear in a scary situation so they can make choices and take actions to keep themselves safe. Mika empowers children and families to keep themselves safe and prepared to respond to serious situations. She is also a lobbyist, fighting for legislation to keep violent predators behind bars. To further spread hope and healing, she provides peer support to families of missing children as a part of Team HOPE. Mika’s strength and perseverance provide hope when hope seems lost.
  • Denise Muller - 2010

    A self-proclaimed ‘slacker’ in high school, Denise has since given to youth and parents her entire adult life. Guidance counselor, program developer, mediator, teacher and trainer, Denise serves this community in many ways. From drug and alcohol prevention to parenting, she solves problems, develops and delivers programs that assist youth and adults with life skills, conflict management, character development, preparation for college, career planning and family counseling. Denise connects people and organizations for the betterment of all, and is well-respected for her work with families, students and school staff in the Desert Sands Unified School District Student Assistance Program. Her aspiration is to become an artist to bring beauty to her family and friends!
  • Gigi C. Muth - 2013

    The inspiration to serve can come in many forms. For Gigi, her drive to serve comes from a desire to leave the world a better place for her children, and to help those who are often left behind. Gigi’s work in business development, fundraising, grant writing, and program development has allowed local and national organizations to grow and better serve the needs of the community. Her volunteer service has included the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, the Family YMCA of the Desert, and the Ophelia Project-Healthy Family Foundation. The Ophelia Project of Coachella Valley is a structured group mentoring program that works closely with local teens. They work to set goals and steer the young girls away from at-risk behaviors. Gigi’s service provides a sense of purpose, joy, and hope for many.
  • Margot Nelligan - 2018

    Margot Nelligan has been active in public service for 3 decades as a corporate employee, entrepreneur, and a local community member, supporting a variety of organizations. During her 28 year career with Xerox she served as Commissioner for the Redondo Beach Public Utilities and Environmental Commission, was a member of the El Segundo Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee and the National Association of Women Business Owners, Los Angeles, was the founder of the South Bay Business Environmental Coalition, and President of Tree Musketeers, an environmental non-profit developing youth leadership, as well as President of the Xerox Women in Management. Upon moving to the Valley, it was important for Margot to get involved and serve the community. She has served as Chair of the Annual Leadership Conference and Secretary of the Board of Directors for Women Leaders Forum in Indian Wells, as Membership Chair of the Friends of the College of the Desert Library. She was also one of the Visionaries for Tools For Tomorrow, a local non-profit that provides on-site, after school literacy enrichment programs integrating writing, drama, art and music for Coachella Valley elementary school children, at no cost to the children. Currently, she serves as President of ACT for MS, a non-profit that provides assistance for Coachella Valley Residents living with Multiple Sclerosis, helping clients live stronger longer. Her commitment to improving lives is clearly from the heart and it is a privilege to honor her as an Angel on Earth.

    info@actforms.org

  • Don Nydam - 2015

    As a business leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Don has sought to find ways to offer a better quality of life to those less fortunate.  He is the co-owner of Totally Kids, a residential hospital serving medically fragile and technology dependent children.  Totally Kids is committed to going beyond meeting medical needs to include the social, psychological, and spiritual needs of each patient.  Don is also the founder of The Village at Redlands, a residential community that caters to seniors.  A supporter of education, he has served on many educational boards including the Arrowhead Christian Academy in Redlands.  He founded The Community Christian College, a private 2-year college targeting underserved men and women.  He serves on the Board of Directors for Crafton Hills College Foundation and the Board of Trustees for the C.S. Lewis Foundation.  He also co-founded Mountain View Wholesale Services, Inc. which gives ten percent of its income to support community colleges.  Don’s passion and purpose are to give to others, and in that he goes above and beyond.
  • Dylan O’Brien -2010

    Dylan’s commitment to excellence and community service started early. While in elementary school, he earned several academic awards, participated in service organizations, and demonstrated his leadership talent in Angel Light Academy’s Junior Leader Program. Dylan’s practice of excellence and community service continued through high school, where he maintained high academic performance, became an award-winning actor, and was selected as President of the ALA Jr. Leader program. Throughout high school and college, Dylan used his acting talent and commitment to youth to assist with the planning, training and facilitation of ALA’s Youth Leadership Conferences, and all this while working. The first in his family to attend college, Dylan will graduate in May from California State San Marcos with a degree in Political Science, and aspirations to work for social change. His goal is to teach and inspire youth to care about and get involved in politics.
  • Sean and Gina Pendleton - 2018

    The Pendleton Foundation began as an effort to help a dear friend with very expensive treatments for a rare form of cancer. Gina Garside and Sean Roberts rose to help her by setting up a fundraiser. They asked a friend, who was a chef, to help put on a dinner. Herve Glin, reached out to other chef friends, who happened to be some of the best executive chefs in the Valley. The event quickly turned into a very successful Chef’s Auction. Immediately, they realized they could help many individuals with similar situations. They recognized the good they could do and the relief they could provide people living through the stress of cancer and cancer treatment. The Pendleton Foundation was founded to help local patients in their struggle to overcome their individual battles with cancer by providing basic living necessities while in treatment. They have distributed over two million dollars in their efforts. They assist with paying bills so that patients can focus on getting well, rather than finding a way to pay their bills along with their high medical bills. The Pendleton Foundation has now been an angel on earth to many individuals and families for 13 years.

    info@thependletonfoundation.org

  • Jan Peters - 2013

    For more than 25 years, Jan has helped organize countless events in the High Desert to benefit the community. She organized the first Outhouse Race in the 29 Palms Pioneer Days, a tradition that has large community participation. She also began the tradition of a formal Chamber of Commerce Installation of Officers dinner and dance. Jan formed a nonprofit organization, Action Council 29 Palms, dedicated to bringing mural art to the buildings and then coordinated many fundraising events to keep the mural program running. Her inn, Roughley Manor Bed and Breakfast, hosts 100 Marines for Thanksgiving dinner. Most of the Marines who attend are single and away from home and truly appreciate a home-cooked meal and family. Jan also created a fund-raising effort to buy service dogs that are trained in the detection of sugar levels for children with diabetes. Jan goes above and beyond with her continued service and dedication to her community.
  • Bob Reinhagen - 2010

    An award winning actor, director, musical director and producer with over 140 theatrical productions to his credit, Bob has performed professionally from New York to LA. Even when he was busy as a performer he found time to work with youth programs wherever he was performing or living. Bob also has an active community service record as VP of the Chamber of Commerce, co-founder of Leadership Coachella Valley, creator of the Christmas Tree Lighting program and Tour of Light, Chair of several advisory committees, and Deputy Director of the Riverside County Fair and Date Festival. He continues his involvement with the youth of the community in partnership with his son, Rob, a professional dancer and entertainer. Together they have founded California Ballet Opera, which focuses on serving the youth of the East Valley with professional quality training and performance experiences. His students report that he has changed their lives. One commented, “Being up on stage and doing what I love would not have been possible without him, and I love him dearly for that.”
  • Jo Rosen - 2016

    Jo Rosen founded the Parkinson’s Resource Organization in 1990 to help those touched by Parkinson’s. She’s worked hard for over 25 years so that no one is isolated because of Parkinson’s. As the wife of a Person with Parkinson’s and also as a daughter, Jo has firsthand experience with the disease and its process and freely shares all she knows. She gives her time and shows compassion to those seeking help with one-on-one coaching, advocacy, facilitating Parkinson’s support groups, managing professional referrals, and vetting a list of much needed resources. Jo also provides community outreach, manages content on an interactive website, authors a monthly newsletter, and facilitates symposia and seminars. Jo is highly respected for her expertise and her compassionate and committed approach to all clients, her perspective is invaluable to the Parkinson’s community. She serves from a place of integrity and comfort and feels her work must continue as long as there is a Person with Parkinson’s in need. The Parkinson’s Resource Organization provides information and resources, and helps connect those affected by Parkinson’s to caregivers, treatments, support groups, and much more. Jo and the organization go above and beyond to help those whose lives have been touched by Parkinson’s.

    jorosen@parkinsonsresource.org

  • Dr. Prem Salhotra - 2016

    Dr. Prem Salhotra has devoted his life to medicine and service. He currently serves at Hi-Desert Medical Center, HDMC Family Clinic, Visiting Nurses Association, Sky Harbor Rehabilitation Center, as well as Morongo Medical Group. Dr. Salhotra has spent thirty wonderful years practicing medicine in the Desert communities. He graduated from medical school in Punjab, India and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Pennsylvania. He believes that everyone deserves to receive quality medical care. From a young age, Dr. Salhotra took an interest in serving rural villages in India and it is from these humble roots that the desire to serve was born. Although he has received many awards and honors throughout the years, Dr. Salhotra maintains that his biggest reward is the smile on his patients’ faces and that to help someone in pain is one of the greatest things we can do in our lives. He stays by his patient’s side no matter how late at night. He is always there to guide them through their pain. Dr. Salhotra was voted the Best of the Best in the Morongo Valley for two consecutive years and is the current Chief of Medicine at the Hi Desert Medical Center. He also serves as the director for the Visiting Nurses Association. Dr. Salhotra’s devotion to service and desire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others make him truly go above and beyond. Dr. Prem Salhotra exemplifies a true commitment to service.
  • Maria Serrano - 2012

    At 82 years old, Mrs. Serrano may not look like an advocate for justice and equality, but her fight for freedom and human rights has been well-fought for many years. Mrs. Serrano began her public leadership in 1970 as a United Farm Workers Representative. She represented over 1700 farm workers and worked closely with Cesar Chavez in the fight for fair working conditions. She founded a grass roots organization to improve living conditions at the Fred Young Farm Labor Center. That organization later became the corporation that ran the center for 20 years-the Indio Housing Development Corporation (IHDC). She co-founded Mothers Against Drugs to help eradicate the strong drug presence in the Labor Center. Mrs. Serrano has been honored for her tireless work on many occasions, including the California Chicano News Media’s “Hope Award;” recognition from IHDC for 15 years of Wisdom, Vision, and Optimism; and a Certificate of Recognition as a Community Activist by the California Legislative Assembly. Mrs. Serrano has also been an angel on earth for ALA and it’s youth leadership programs. Her voice, conviction, and commitment are unwavering and heart-felt.
  • Dustin Smith - 2016

    The First Tee of the Coachella Valley strives to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development through the game of golf. In addition to learning the fundamentals of golf, the character education and life skills programs help prepare kids to be successful at school, at home, and in the community. The First Tee Nine Core Values (add Trademark symbol), which include honesty, integrity, respect, and perseverance, provide the structure that helps kids accomplish goals, thrive socially, excel academically and athletically, and become productive members of society. Life skill instruction focuses on managing emotions, setting goals, resolving conflicts, and communication. Dustin Smith is the Program Director and has worked hard to maintain program excellence. His background in education and his dedication to improving lives make him a highly effective instructor, trainer, and coach. He trains volunteers, writes and implements curriculum, develops and launches golf camps during school vacations, and oversees local operations. His commitment to creating young leaders in the Coachella Valley has made him an angel on earth to many.

    dsmith@drd.us.com

  • Sandy Smith - 2016

    Sandy Smith has been active in serving the high desert community for many years. She worked for many years as head of Reach Out Morongo Basin, a non-profit organization dedicated to informal caregiving for seniors and the disabled. She is an active member of the Twentynine Palms Rotary Club and was selected for the Vocational Training Team and she spent a month in southern Brazil to teach local professors at the State University how to incorporate English into their courses. She also leads the Morongo Basin Relay for Life. All of her years of service with non-profits gave her an intimate knowledge of the community, expertise in fundraising, marketing, and public relations. She puts all this to use at the Copper Mountain College Foundation. The Foundation serves the college’s 2700 students, staff, and faculty. They provide scholarships, subsidize transportation for students, publish the campus’ literary magazine, support the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Associated Students of CMC conferences and trainings. They also raised $500,000 to build the Christine Proudfoot Student Activity Center and Bud & Betty’s Place for Veteran’s on campus. Sandy’s commitment to her community are reflected in her hard work and willingness to go above and beyond for CMC’s students.

    ssmith@cmccd.edu

  • Sheriff Stan Sniff - 2017

    Sheriff Stan Sniff has given over 40 years of distinguished service in law-enforcement and has been involved in service and leadership roles throughout Riverside County. He oversees countywide patrol operations, jail operations, court security and coroner investigations. A native of the Coachella Valley, he grew up in the Indio area and joined the Coachella Police Department in 1975 after graduation from the San Bernardino Sheriff ’s Academy. He transferred to the Riverside County Sheriff ’s Department in 1979, initially assigned to the Indio Station, serving across the Coachella Valley. His initial expertise was in traffic enforcement and accident investigation and he was instrumental in creating the department’s very first specialized traffic safety programs. He has held subsequent assignments in uniformed patrol operations in Riverside, the San Gorgonio Pass area, and Southwest Riverside County. As a Captain he held command assignments of the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, the Banning Sheriff ’s Station and the Ben Clark Training Center. As a Chief Deputy he held assignments over Training and Personnel, East and West county patrol operations. A retired colonel in the Army Reserve, he served 30 years in a variety of military staff and command assignments in infantry, armor and cavalry units. The Sheriff has gone above and beyond during his career giving service to country and community.
  • Dr. Stephen Steele - 2015

    Dr. Stephen Steele has led a life of both military and civilian service.  He was trained as a Flight Surgeon at the Naval Aerospace Medicine Institute.  In 1988 he was assigned to Marine Air Attack Squadron (VMA-211-Avengers) in MCAS Yuma, where he spent three years as the squadron Flight Surgeon in CONUS and on a six month Western Pacific tour.  Captain Steele has continued his affiliation with the Naval Reserves and was the Senior Medical Officer of the medical unit of Detachment D (Moreno Valley) Camp Pendleton.  He is presently proudly serving as the Group Surgeon of 4th MAWMED MAG 46.  He enjoys being able to serve the Marine Aviation community again.  He has served the Navy his entire 27 years of military service.   Dr. Steele has a passion for sports and has served as team physician for high school sports teams, served as a Board Member of the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine, and as the President of the Medical staff at Eisenhower Medical Center. He also volunteers for Volunteers in Medicine, which provides no-cost primary health care service to medically underserved adults in the Coachella Valley. Dr. Steele has provided continuous selfless service throughout his life and is truly an example of leadership in medicine.
  • Katie Slimko-Stice - 2017

    Katie Slimko-Stice has been a part of the non-profit sector in the Coachella Valley for 20 years. She is currently with the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce, where she combines her civic mindedness with her exemplary leadership to help businesses and professionals become more successful. She began her service by volunteering for the YMCA of the Desert. She became a site director and, later, turned her experience and her love for children into a career at the Children’s Discovery Museum. While there, she built educational programs, classes, camps, and workshops for children and families. Katie continues to improve the Coachella Valley and now invests her time and energy into supporting business, helping small business owners realize their dreams. She is a Leadership Coachella Valley graduate and has been so instrumental in improving her community that she was named a part of Palm Springs Life’s “40 Under 40”. Katie is also involved in other non-profit work including the Board of Regents for the US Chamber’s Institute Program, Sheltering Sister for Shelter from the Storm, and Unforgettables Foundation Board Member. Katie has a deep understanding of the importance of community and helping others, so she dedicates her time to community needs and strives each day to make the Coachella Valley a better place for all of the residents.

    Katie.stice@gcvcc.org

  • Erica Stone - 2016

    Erica Stone is the founder of Soldiers Organized Services, a nonprofit which provides free rides to Marines. Since its inception in 2007, S.O.S. has provided rides for over 93,500 service members. Over 150 volunteer drivers provide free transportation from the Palm Springs and Ontario International Airports to the Marine Corps base in Twentynine Palms. Erica began the organization after meeting a wounded Marine in the Palm Springs airport. He was struggling with luggage and had missed the last bus to the base. She offered him a ride and from there realized that hundreds of Marines deserved hassle-free transportation from airport to base. These soldiers often are returning from hostile places or will soon be deployed to hostile places and the comfort of a friendly driver can help ease their stress and worry. Volunteers, many of which are veterans, provide mentoring, advice, and pleasant company to service members. In 2015, S.O.S. Resale Boutique and Veteran’s Communication Center was opened in Palm Desert to provide resources to veterans. Erica goes above and beyond to help those that protect our freedom, giving them some peace of mind in their travels.

    e.stone@sosride.org

  • Senator Jeff Stone - 2015

    Jeff Stone has lived and served in Southern California his entire life. He opened his first small business, the Temecula Pharmacy, and began building strong ties and involvement in the community.  In 1992, he expanded his public service involvement when he was elected to the Temecula City Council for three terms.  Stone served as Mayor until being elected to the Board of Supervisors. Jeff was on the Board of Supervisors from 2004-2012, which was an illustration of how effective his term on the City Council had been. Prior to being elected and sworn into the State Senate, Jeff served as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors.  Jeff works to create a fiscally responsible and efficient government that is productive for its citizens.  He makes public safety a priority and has been instrumental in expanding the economy and in job creation. One of his many efforts is the Veterans Assistance Leadership of Riverside County (VALOR).  The goal of this effort is to end homelessness among veterans by providing multi-disciplinary assistance to veterans across Riverside County who wish to help themselves.  Jeff is community minded and works hard to improve lives in the area he serves.
  • Scott Trujillo - 2011

    Scott, a native of Colorado, started his leadership at an early age. He earned excellent grades throughout his elementary and secondary school years, in addition to serving on the student council and playing in several sports. He was Student of the Year, Captain of the football and wrestling teams, and Homecoming King. His leadership continued during college where he founded the first Latino Graduation Ceremony, initiated a wrestling club, tutored first generation students, was president of his fraternity, and was co-founder of the Latin/Greek Council – and he graduated with honors! Here in the Coachella Valley, Scott’s commitment to serving others is a way of life. As Senior Neighborhood Coordinator, Scott facilitates the Community Development Block Grant program and serves as liaison to the local businesses. He continues to initiate new programs, which includes founding the Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking. Scott served as president of the Indio Sunrise Rotary and on the Board of Directors of the Indio Chamber of Commerce, and was awarded Individual of the Year for IYTF. Scott Trujillo is truly an Angel on Earth to his community.
  • Chief Richard Twiss - 2015

    Chief Twiss has served in law enforcement for 27 years.  He comes from a public service family and believes deeply in giving back to the community. He is actively involved in many organizations including Indio Rotary, Indio Police Officers John Rose Memorial Widows and Orphans Board, Salvation Army Advisory Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Coachella Valley Board, Latino Peace Officers Association, California Desert Trail Academy College of Law, Riverside County Law Enforcement Administrators Association, and many more.  He is service minded and believes in being involved in the community and developing relationships.  He leads by example and holds his officers to high standards.  Richard has played a vital role in the development of the Community Outreach Resource Program (CORP) and the Youth Offender Court Program (YOCP) designed to assist the youth and a group of citizens most in need of governmental and social services within the City of Indio. Richard has been an incredible example of a leader who teaches the value of service and giving back.
  • Walt & Judy Van Benthuysen - 2015

    After 9/11, Walt and Judy felt they needed to take some action to honor, respect, and help America’s Heroes and their families.  They came up with the concept of American Friends of Our Armed Forces, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization designed to comfort and support America’s troops in combat zones while watching over their families at home.  They quickly recruited over 100 volunteers to support the program and that number grew as neighbors and families joined in to help.  Initial support included shipping goods to combat zones and has evolved into providing $2 million in support for programs and services for troops and their families.  AFAF is a major support base for military and their families at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms, and Camp Pendleton in Oceanside.  More than 50,000 Marines have benefited from the resources provided by AFAF.  AFAF also provides a program in which local families host Troops for Thanksgiving.  Many of the Troops are experiencing their first holiday away from home and family and this allows them to be a part of a family celebration during the holiday.  Over 300 were hosted last year. AFAF also supports a Military Appreciation Golf Tournament, a Family Fun Day at Sunnylands, and many dinners, day trips, and family outings for military families.  The support AFAF provides military troops and families goes above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Brenda Ayon Verduzco - 2014

    Brenda’s commitment to creating and supporting positive social change is evident in the work she does wherever she is. As Brenda has worked her way through college, and law school, she has always dedicated herself to working with organizations that serve. Her community service has included the One Justice Program, a legal clinic to help immigrant youth file their Deferred Action Children Arrivals applications; the Young Lawyers Program, a mentoring program for inner-city children; and the Rotaract Club at UC Irvine. With the Rotaract Club, Brenda worked on Passion Fest to end polio, Christmas Train to deliver toys and hygiene items to children in Mexico, Kaboon and Disney Build a Playground partnership, Relay for Life, Jump Start reading program, and Paint Your Heart Out to restore homes for the elderly. When Brenda finishes law school, she hopes to build a network of sustainable service through a group or organization.  She also hopes to provide legal assistance to underserved communities, advocate through policy work, and be a part of impact litigation to help immigrant groups, youth, and women.  Her dedication to social change and her attitude that it is not how much you have, but how much you give, make Brenda an angel on Earth.
  • Melinda Wallace - 2011

    As an elementary school principal, Ms. Wallace leads by example as she steers her school toward success. As a child, she served in Brownies and Girls Scouts, in which she learned the foundations for leadership. She continued to strive for excellence as she matured. In college, she was in the Delta Zeta Society and on the Dean’s List. When Ms. Wallace became principal at Martin Van Buren Elementary School, it was considered a difficult school to lead, but she has made it her mission to turn things around. In her time there, Ms. Wallace has helped move her students, primarily from the neighboring farm labor center, toward academic success. Under Ms. Wallace’s leadership, Van Buren Elementary has made the largest gains of any school in Riverside County and some of the largest gains in the state. The school has been honored with many awards, including being named a California Distinguished School 2009-2010. This educator is an Angel on Earth, who has raised the bar and found her students ready for the challenge!
  • Richard Waxman - 2013

    Richard Waxman has devoted most of his life to helping animals, and to helping people heal with the help of animals. He is the Founder and Executive Director of “Paws & Hearts” Animal Assisted Therapy. “Paws & Hearts” has been providing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in hospitals, long-term care facilities, adult day care centers, Alzheimer’s facilities and cancer centers here in the Coachella Valley for 13 years. This non-profit and its 2-legged and 4-legged volunteers, including Scruffy, bring a ray of sunshine and joy to those who are in need. Scruffy is an 11 year-old Cairn Terrier mix who’s gentle and loving demeanor have endeared him to patients old and young. He knows when to settle in and give a gentle kiss and when to play. He and his friends can reduce depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and calm patients. Scruffy, and the smiles he elicits, is proof that Angels on Earth come in all shapes and sizes!

    pawsandhearts@aol.com

  • Julia Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement Award - 2017

    Julia Wilmot is the Founder and President of Angel Light Academy.  She is receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for more than 40 years of service in various fields. Julia has always been deeply committed to community service and to making the world a better place. She began her service early in 4H and began solving problems, thinking creatively, and improving her community.  Julia served with the YMCA and the YWCA and originated the Latch-Key Program in Arizona.  She was a representative for statewide economic development; effectively directed Mayoral, City Council, and Representative races; and was a member in the first class of Valley Leadership, Inc. where she founded an alumni association.  Julia also served on the crime commission where she initiated Neighborhood Watch programs.  Julia maintained this high level of community involvement while running her professional interior design firm, a development company, and an investment firm, and while raising her 2 sons as a single mother.  She left the business world and turned to service full-time when she became the Executive Director of Project Prevention.  This non-profit teamed with Phoenix Children’s Hospital and local schools to educate and prevent abuse in over 600,000 children.  Julia was named one of the YWCA’s Women of the Year for her years of service in leadership, healthcare social services, government, and community.  In 1995, she and husband General Richard Wilmot founded Angel Light Academy, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to teaching leadership, communication, and problem solving to youth and adults.  Julia is an amazing example of leadership.
  • General Richard Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement - 2016

    General Richard Wilmot is being honored for a lifetime of service. His life has been dedicated to serving his country and to serving his community. He is a successful international businessman, internationally known public speaker, consultant to governments and industry, and an author. He is a retired US Army Brigadier General and ended his military career as the commandant of the US Army Intelligence Center and School. He has also served his country as an employee of a US intelligence organization and was successful in engineering the covert procurement of twelve main battle tanks of the Soviet Army. This was key to the early demise of the Iraqi ground forces during Desert Storm. This operation is one of the few he is able to speak about publicly. The true scope of his service to this country will likely never be known. Richard turned his focus toward youth and adult leadership training in 1996 when he and his wife, Julia, founded Angel Light Academy. He sees a void in leadership at the local, national, and international levels and believes that children and adults should be trained in leadership, character, problem solving, and team building. As a consultant and public speaker, he ties in the leadership training to topics such as nation building, government policy and procedures, creating strategic alliances, counter-terrorism, international security, and crisis management. He can hold captive audiences filled with experts and teach them the same leadership skills he teaches young children. The General has received many honors including the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Vietnamese Honor Medal, Department of the Army Staff Badge, Senior Parachute Badge, and Army Ranger Tab. His energy, drive, experience, and commitment to making the world a better place have proven time and time again. He is truly an exceptional leader and a great example of servant leadership in action.
  • Solomon Worlds - 2010

    An exemplary student since elementary school, Solomon is also a community activist who began his community service as a young child, following in his mother’s footsteps. In addition to helping to feed and clothe the homeless year-round since 2004, he has been an active member of ALA’s Junior Leader Program, leading and teaching other youth by his example. At Cathedral City High School of Palm Springs Unified School District, Solomon is an honor student and Citizenship Award recipient. Solomon plans to attend college to earn a Doctorate and become a family counselor specializing in adolescent behavior.
  • Ann Woods - 2014

    For more than 30 years, Save-A-Pet has rescued animals in danger, and provided healing medicines, treatment, food, and shelter. They have helped to find permanent, loving homes for approximately 600 animals each year. Save-A-Pet began as a no-kill shelter and has expanded its services to include programs,such as, Senior Animals for Senior People, pairing deserving seniors with animals. They also offer veterinary care to other shelters at a reduced rate and offer financial assistance to those who qualify and cannot afford medical care for their pets.  Accepting the award on behalf of Save-A-Pet is Ann Woods, “the heart and soul” of Save-A-Pet.  As the longest serving volunteer, 10 years, she has led the effort in establishing a new veterinary hospital.  She volunteers seven days a week, assists with pet adoptions, and finds places for animals with special needs.  Save-A-Pet and its volunteers have been angels on Earth to countless animals and families throughout the Coachella Valley.
  • Linda Aguilar - 2010
  • Martha & Abraham Aguilar Family - 2011
  • Lindalee Allison - 2013
  • DeAnn Lubell Ames  - 2018
  • Andrea Aranda - 2014
  • Suzanne Armstrong - 2017
  • Erika Baily - 2010
  • Richard Balocco -2018
  • Brooke Beare - 2012
  • Robert Berens - 2019
  • Michelle Bergeron - 2018
  • Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018
  • David Brinkman - 2017
  • Veda Brooks - 2010
  • Toni Callicott - 2016
  • Andrea Carter - 2017
  • Vanessa Castro - 2010
  • Nachhattar S. Chandi - 2011
  • Susana Chandi - 2018
  • Mike Chedester - 2015
  • Margit Chiriaco-Rusche - 2019
  • Troy Compton - 2010
  • Congressman Paul Cook - 2017
  • Tim Cote - 2013
  • Donna Craig - 2016
  • Robert Craven - 2011
  • Arthur D’Souza - 2013
  • Richard DeSantis  - 2016
  • Selby Dunham - 2017
  • Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018
  • Patrick Evans - 2014
  • Melanie Fesmire - 2011
  • Maureen Forman  -  2017
  • Susan Francis - 2015
  • Annette Garcia & Dave DiMeno - 2019
  • Caleb Gervin - 2012
  • Owen and Audrey Gillick - 2014
  • Kathy Greco - 2016
  • Victory Grund - 2019
  • Cirenia Guerrero - 2013
  • Pauline Hennessey - 2012
  • Mike Hestrin - 2014
  • Paul Hoffman - 2019
  • Elaine Holmes - 2019
  • Jackie Lee Houston - 2011
  • Lisa Houston - 2015
  • Suz Hunt - 2017
  • George And Nancy Huntington - 2018
  • Colleen Johnson - 2011
  • Jennie Kelly - 2012
  • Roberta Klein - 2017
  • Craig Gahnz Kuhar - 2015
  • Lynda Lake - 2012
  • Peggy Sue Lane - 2016
  • Risseth Lora - 2019
  • Rosa Lucas - 2019
  • Rafael Luna - 2010
  • Robyn Madala - 2013
  • Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018
  • Rev. Dr. Tahlib McMicheaux - 2014
  • Dr. Farah Meadows - 2019
  • Isabel Megli - 2012
  • Cindy Melland - 2015
  • Randall Miller - 2012
  • Jerry Moe - 2019
  • Ruth Moir - 2016
  • Shay Moraga - 2019
  • Tanya Moreno -2018
  • Lynn Moriarty - 2014
  • Paul Morway - 2014
  • Cameron Moulton - 2017
  • Mika Moulton - 2012
  • Denise Muller - 2010
  • Gigi C. Muth - 2013
  • Margot Nelligan - 2018
  • Don Nydam - 2015
  • Dylan O’Brien -2010
  • Sean and Gina Pendleton - 2018
  • Jan Peters - 2013
  • Bob Reinhagen - 2010
  • Jo Rosen - 2016
  • Dr. Prem Salhotra - 2016
  • Maria Serrano - 2012
  • Dustin  Smith - 2016
  • Sandy Smith - 2016
  • Sheriff Stan Sniff - 2017
  • Dr. Stephen Steele - 2015
  • Katie Slimko-Stice - 2017
  • Erica Stone - 2016
  • Senator Jeff Stone - 2015
  • Scott Trujillo - 2011
  • Chief Richard Twiss - 2015
  • Walt & Judy Van Benthuysen - 2015
  • Brenda Ayon Verduzco - 2014
  • Melinda Wallace - 2011
  • Richard Waxman - 2013
  • Julia Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement Award - 2017
  • General Richard Wilmot, Lifetime Achievement - 2016
  • Solomon Worlds - 2010
  • Ann Woods - 2014