Desert Gala Honorees

To find out more on each honoree, click on their photo to read their bio.

Jenell VanDenBos - 2022

Jenell VanDenBos - 2022

Ricardo Loretta - 2022

Ricardo Loretta - 2022

Patti Gribow - 2022

Patti Gribow - 2022

Jack Srebnik - 2022

Jack Srebnik - 2022

Nathan Manderfeld - 2022

Nathan Manderfeld - 2022

Bea Gonzalez -2022

Bea Gonzalez -2022

Ernesto Rosales - 2022

Ernesto Rosales - 2022

Cathy Larson -2022

Cathy Larson -2022

Dr. Ben Wehrli -2022

Dr. Ben Wehrli -2022

Dimitri Halkidis - 2022

Dimitri Halkidis - 2022

  • Jenell VanDenBos - 2022
  • Ricardo Loretta - 2022
  • Patti Gribow - 2022
  • Jack Srebnik - 2022
  • Nathan Manderfeld - 2022
  • Bea Gonzalez -2022
  • Ernesto Rosales - 2022
  • Cathy Larson -2022
  • Dr. Ben Wehrli -2022
  • Dimitri Halkidis - 2022
  • Jenell VanDenBos - 2022

    Jenell has been a resident of the Coachella Valley and directly involved in local philanthropy for the past 28 years.  She is proud to have raised her children here and to give back to this vibrant, and ever-growing community that has been her home for the majority of her adult life!  She has been a member and on the Board of Directors of various organizations including: Palm Springs Ambassador 2018-present, Olive Crest Board member 2005-2015, Founder and President of the Theater Kids 2005-2010, Riverside Representative to the Women’s Commission 1997, Board of Directors JFK Memorial Foundation 1993-1996, to name a few. Her latest charitable endeavor has been as the President of Women Leaders Forum, a group started over 20 years ago by Mary Roche for women of the Coachella Valley looking to connect with other like-minded, ambitious individuals. The goal is to inspire and motivate women to make a difference in their own lives, their families, and the exponentially expanding fabric of the Coachella Valley. It strengthens women leaders, mentors high school girls, and raises money for scholarships for high school girls. Over the years, WLF has given over $600,000 in scholarships.  Jenell became President of WLF in 2021, but due to the pandemic, a lack of events, and motivation, the organization had only 19 members. From which, she chose an amazing team of board members to relaunch the organization and provide members with the tools they needed to come out of a pandemic where they were just trying to survive, to take on a new mentality and thrive.  Under Jenell’s leadership, WLF has grown in the last 10 months to a membership of 120 strong and with the goal of making a difference in each of the women's lives. They have revamped the Young Women Leaders Program to reach out personally to over 50 local Coachella Valley High Schoolers and provide them with the tools necessary for college and their future careers.  They plan to give over $30,000 in scholarships this year to these amazing young women; future captains of industry, world leaders, and downright game-changers!  As the leader of WLF, she knows that we are #bettertogether! She is proud to live, work, and give in the Coachella Valley.
  • Ricardo Loretta - 2022

    Ricardo is an international businessman, educator, consultant and volunteer with strong multi-cultural interests. Raised in Mexico, lived in Brazil, he is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. BA in Economics from Chapman University and MBA from University of Southern California. Executive management programs at Stanford and Michigan State Universities. Ricardo was Rotary District Governor (D5330) in 2018/19 and again 2019/20, is Past President of the Rotary Club of Palm Desert, named “Best in District” the year he was president. Two consecutive years (2013-15) Ricardo was “District Rotarian of the Year.” He is the 2022 Senior Inspiration Award honoree from Palm Desert. At present, Ricardo manages a scholarship-granting organization, serving low income youth of Mexican descent in the Coachella Valley, the Dr. Carreón Foundation (DCF). In the 5 years he has been Executive Director, DCF has doubled in size and has increased the number of scholarship awardees from 23 to 74 per year. He also created Hola! Spanish Conversations, teaching Conversational Spanish. He serves on Advancement Board of California State University-Palm Desert and is board member of College of the Desert Alumni Association. In 2020 Ricardo established the nonprofit Coachella Valley Journalism Foundation, to assist in strengthening local support for our local news media. Most recently, he initiated a new Task Force For Fighting Human Trafficking, in response to the growing incidence of this heinous criminal activity. In Ricardo’s corporate career he managed Clark Equipment Company’s Overseas Division and earlier was on Ford Motor Company’s Corporate Finance Staff in Dearborn, MI. Ricardo achieved Eagle Scout in Mexico at age 14, at the time the youngest to earn this award outside the USA. He was president of school boards in Michigan and Brazil and Chair of Advisory Boards at the Institute of the Americas and Center for US-Mexico Studies at UCSD. His work with youth programs in Mexico, Brazil and Michigan reflect the passion he has for cross cultural education, especially as it relates to younger generations. He and wife of 57 years, Jennifer, live in Palm Desert and are parents to three sons, with 3 grandchildren.
  • Patti Gribow - 2022

    Patti has been a business owner in The Greater Palm Springs area for over 25 years. She has earned a reputation of leading with integrity and is known as a seasoned communicator. While living in Los Angeles, Patti worked in the entertainment industry on camera in television with the likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Henry Winkler, to name some.  Here in the Coachella Valley, as CEO of Gribow Entertainment, Patti produced and/or hosted over 300 TV shows on The Patti Gribow Show, Patti Gribow’s Roundtable, Palm Springs Studios, or Imprint Media Productions. Notable interviews include those with Dan Rather, Judy Woodruff, Gloria Allred, Jane Seymour, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and Senator John McCain. Gribow believes that service to the community is not a choice, but an obligation. Her advocacy for women has earned Patti numerous awards including a Palm Desert Athena Award, Women Leaders Forum Lifetime Achievement Award, and the George Berkey Palm Desert Citizen of the Year Award. She has been honored by Soroptimist International of Palm Desert-Sunrise, and the National League of American Pen Women. In addition, she has served as a Member of the Board of Counselors for the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts. Patti was the Co-founder of the Ophelia Project of the Coachella Valley, an organization that empowers high school girls to increase their self-worth and maximize their potential contribution to society.  She is a Past President and a board member of Palm Springs Women in Film and Television, as well as, a member of the Advisory Board of Women Leaders Forum, and the Green Room Theater Company. Staying the course over many decades in the entertainment industry, today, Patti continues her acting career as a voice over actor. In addition, she recently worked on as a Producer on two short films Accidental Date, and Aftermath, and the TV Series, PS After Dark, all produced by Palm Springs Women in Film and Television. Patti and Dale Gribow have been married for 36 years. Their daughter Gina was raised in the CV and is currently the Vice President of Government Relations for Southern California Strategies 360. Patti is an incredible example of what you can accomplish in a career focused on leadership and service.
  • Jack Srebnik - 2022

    Jack has been a restauranteur since 1989 when he opened his first restaurant in Santa Monica which he later sold in 2004. Since then he has owned and operated 19 restaurants from Santa Monica to the Coachella Valley. Srebnik has shown his entrepreneurship from early on in his teens when he started his own lawn business. This spirit was instilled by his father who was hard working, but never stopped being family oriented. His “family comes first” philosophy has allowed Srebnik to give back to his community. This includes his love of coaching basketball, one of his favorite sports, (Santa Monica High School 2000-2001, Garden of Angels Middle School 2003, and Palm Valley High School 2009-2013). Jack also served on the board for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Desert, and was the chair of their largest fundraiser, Ramblin Gamblin for 7 years. Jack was on the Board of Directors of the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce for the past 7 years and was Chairman in 2017. Jack was honored to be chosen a one of “The Few Good Men” for the Ronald McDonald House class of 2018. He then Chaired the Gala for the next two years and has been the Master of Ceremonies for each of the last three years. Jack has been involved with the Bianca Rae Foundation for the past 5 years. The foundation concerns itself with those that need a voice – children and pets. They put on a yearly conference for over 300 middle school children and talk about bullying, about self- esteem issues and any other things the students want to talk about. As for pets, the Foundation pushes for adoptions for the many pets that need a home. Through the years, he has been involved in the mentor for the Café program at Rancho Mirage High School. Invested in their intern program and have hired 3 students over the years for his restaurants. During the pandemic, Jack and his partners Ellen Spencer and Todd Flood, used their platform of The Slice and Maracas to feed the nurses and ER personnel at Eisenhower every Monday and Thursday for 13 months. It was their way of thanking and honoring the real heroes of the pandemic. He hopes to pass his business down to his boys but doesn’t plan to retire. He currently owns Maracas in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. Srebnik wants to help as many people as he can to achieve their goals. His father taught him at an early age – “You have to give to receive” and he has lived up to this saying and much, much, more.
  • Nathan Manderfeld - 2022

    Nathan has been an educator for 23 years and he has had the privilege of teaching in inner city Minneapolis and right here in Coachella Valley. For the past 11 years he has taught 5th grade at Monroe Elementary School where he was named a Microsoft Partners in Learning Global educator and traveled to Washington DC with his i AM project representing US elementary school teachers at their global conference. Mr. Manderfeld has been a two-time Elementary Teacher of the year and is a frequent speaker at Google's education Summit. His graduate school program at Monroe Elementary challenges students to go above and beyond. Students become entrepreneurs creating their own businesses in the Shark Tank. They develop video games in Coding and Game Design, and even become published authors in Creative Writing: Your Force Awakens. The School to School Water Project he started at Monroe builds clean water wells in the developing world. Their mission is to give students perspective on the global water crisis, empower them to act, and open their eyes to the power they have to make change. To date they have partnered with Generosity.org to build clean water wells at schools in Peru, Guatemala, and at the Hope School in New Delhi, India. Mr. Manderfeld empowers children to use their creativity and passion to develop projects. He understands it is important to reach goals, but having children go through the process of experiential learning is the most important. Mr. Manderfeld teaches the students the Rubik's Cube, has them run their own small business called Cocoa Loco, and is undefeated in getting the most families to participate each year in the YMCA YBFit. When asked why he does all this he says, "My job as an educator is not to teach curriculum, it is to create memorable learning experiences" and that he certainly does.
  • Bea Gonzalez -2022

    Bea’s parents were examples of servant leaders and instilled a passion within her to serve her community and fellow man. The combination of her experience and passion led her to serve her community through boards and community volunteer work as well as her current elected position as a Trustee for College of the Desert, Area 2. Bea has held the position of District Coordinator of Expanded Learning Programs for 21 of her 27 years with Coachella Valley Unified School District (CVUSD). This entails grant writing, oversight for compliance, fiscal management, as well as, collaboration with various community agencies to ensure quality programming for 21 school sites. On average they serve about 3,500 to 4,000 students daily from Kindergarten through 12th grade providing a robust programs including: visual and performing arts, robotics, STEM, sports, entrepreneurship, rites of passage programs and many more! Throughout the years, Bea has received various awards for her dedication and service to the community. Classified Administrator of the Year –Association of California School Administrators (A.C.S.A.) CVUSD, 2019 “CV Unforgettable Hearts Award” from the Unforgettables, Woman of the Year for the 56th Assembly District by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, Women in Business Award by the L.A. Lakers Organization and Comerica Bank, Leonela Torres Award for Business Woman of the Year by the CV of Commerce, Volunteer of the Year/Bill Freeman Award by the Coachella Chamber of Commerce, Golden Apple Educator Award by the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce, and many more. Bea’s commitment to the community was honored by the opening of “Bea’s House” Girl’s Youth Treatment Facility alongside “Michael’s House” Boy’s Youth Treatment Facility through the Riverside County Latino Commission a non-profit local organization that provides mental health and substance use services. Bea currently serves on various boards: Riverside University Health Care Systems Behavioral Health Commission, Riverside County Desert Behavioral Health Advisory Board, Riverside County Latino Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Lift to Rise, Regional Access Program Foundation, State of California - State Assembly Boys and Men of Color Committee, AB617 Community Steering Committee, Environmental Justice Taskforce, Water Quality Control Board, Colorado River Basin Region 7, Coachella Valley Mountain Conservancy Board, and many more. Above all else, Bea believes her greatest accomplishment is being the mother of two children, Monique and Matthew, who have a heart to serve their community as well.
  • Ernesto Rosales - 2022

    Ernesto is a lifelong resident of the Coachella Valley and he graduated from the Palm Springs Unified School District in 1988. He was recruited to play soccer in a European tour as a 15-year-old, he played in England, France, Holland, East and West Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. A proud father, grandfather, and husband, Ernesto’s passion for family and community are of most importance. He proudly supports countless charities and faith based education foundations that serve the Coachella Valley. He currently is the Chairman of the Board of the Inland Empire Ronald McDonald House, President of the Big Brothers and Sisters of the Desert (also a big brother), Board Member of the First Tee, Board Member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School Indio, and is past President/Board Member of several other similar foundations in the desert. Ernesto believes that we all have a duty to serve our communities by giving our TIME, TALENTS, and TREASURE. Ernesto is President of ER Funeral Pre Planning Services, Inc. He specializes in helping families pre plan and pre fund funeral and cemetery needs ahead of time. Last year he was recognized by Great Western Insurance Company as the top producer in the country with nearly $3 million in individual sales. Last year ER Funeral Pre Planning Services along with local partners FitzHenry-Wiefels Cremation and Funeral Services and New Journey Cremation and Funeral Services, proudly donated $130,000 back to the Coachella Valley and they hope to grow that number each year. Ernesto leads by example and truly lives up to his own motto of “giving his time, talents, and treasure” by serving his community in any way he can.
  • Cathy Larson -2022

    Cathy’s volunteer career began at a young age where she was born and raised on a ranch in Sheridan, Wyoming. At the age of 10, she joined a 4-H Club and continued until she was 18 years old. In the 4-H club, she not only volunteered in helping the community become a better place, but she also raised funds to support the community. When she moved to California in the early 1970s, she joined the Playa del Rey Junior Woman’s Club organization of Southern California serving as President, Vice President and Secretary. In Orange County, she again got involved in 4-H with her own children in Los Alamitos – The Little Cottonwood 4-H Club. She was leader of this group with other volunteers for over 6 years. When her family moved to the Hi-Desert in 1994, she immediately became involved in the community and joined the Boys and Girls Club of the Hi-Desert as a Director in 1996 and served until 2009 and came back on the Board 2014 until the present. With the Boys and Girls Club she helps to serve the youth of the community to make a better place for them. She has served in various positions including, President, Vice President, Treasurer and Auction Chair. In 2014, she was honored as Volunteer of the Year for The Basin Wide Foundation. She joined the Copper Mountain College Foundation serving from 2006-2019, including serving as President 4 times and chairman of many other committees. As Chairman of the Major Gifts Committee, funds were raised to finish the Christine Proudfoot Student Activity Center and The Faculty Advisement Center. She was a member of the Presidents’ Circle, Charter Member of the Athletic Booster Club, and now an Honorary Life Director. She was honored in January 2022 as Legacy Honoree for contributions to building of the college. She has 3 children, 4 granddaughters, and 2 great-granddaughters. In addition to spending time with family and her passion for volunteering, she operates 2 businesses: a small manufacturing business of acrylic surface protectors called Plexiprotectors and Hi-Desert Physical Rehabilitation Group, which includes Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy in Yucca Valley and 29 Palms. In all that Cathy has done in her life, serving the youth and communities she has lived has always been her passion.
  • Dr. Ben Wehrli -2022

    Known as an architect and pioneer of innovative approaches to foot and ankle care, Ben Wehrli, DPM, has built an international reputation for exceptional patient care and effective treatment solutions. Dr. Wehrli treats patients at Coachella Valley Foot and Ankle Institute, located in Rancho Mirage, California. After completing his Bachelor of Science in microbiology, with an emphasis in medical technology, from Idaho State University, Dr. Wehrli was accepted into medical school. He earned his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine at Des Moines University College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery in Iowa. Dr. Wehrli then went through a highly competitive foot and ankle surgical residency at the nationally renowned Detroit Medical Center through Wayne State University in Michigan. Shortly after completing his educational requirements, Dr. Wehrli went on to become board-certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery. Before coming to Coachella Valley Foot and Ankle Institute, Dr. Wehrli worked at Desert Regional Medical Center’s Institute of Clinical Orthopedics and Neurosciences. While there, Dr. Wehrli specialized in minimally invasive sports medicine procedures, including the revolutionary arthroscopic Brostrom-Gould procedure for ankle ligament ruptures and instability. Throughout his career, Dr. Wehrli has held several prestigious positions focusing on new-and-improved approaches to foot and ankle treatment. He has even served as a consultant with major orthopedic companies such as Stryker, Trilliant Surgical, and S.E.G.-WAY™ Orthopedics. Because of his athletic background, Dr. Wehrli has a passion for helping athletes get back to 100%. He played major college baseball on a scholarship at Brigham Young University in Utah and at Idaho State University. Before that, Dr. Wehrli lettered in wrestling, baseball, and football during a star high school career, where he earned the title of “U.S. Marine Corps Athlete of the Year.” With Refuge International, Dr. Wehrli has made many trips around the world to serve vulnerable communities, improving the health, wellness, and quality of life of those populations most in need. As a mentor, he frequently counsels youth of all ages at his office, his church and through his non-profit endeavors. Dr. Wehrli has served the SoCal Coyotes since 2013, and is currently Chief Medical Officer of Coachella Sports & Entertainment Stadium Authority (CSESA). Sports and athletic care continue to remain at the forefront of Dr. Wehrli’s expertise.
  • Dimitri Halkidis - 2022

    Palm Springs resident Dimitri Halkidis has been a prominent member of the Coachella Valley community for the past 13 years. A high-end photographer originally from the East Coast, he relocated to Hollywood in 1986 for 25 years before settling in Palm Springs in 2009. During his career, Halkidis has photographed the likes of George Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker, Grace Jones, Sharon Stone, Jack Nicholson, and Oscar nominee Virginia Madsen to name a few. Among his current clients are Sutton Stracke, Cassie Scerbo and Maya Stojan. Instead of just standing on the sidelines, Dimitri, who was a victim of bullying himself as a young man, decided to do something to help others overcome bullying, discrimination and intolerance. In 2011, he established Boo2Bullying, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides outreach, mentoring, education and support for youth and their families. From its office in Palm Springs, Boo2Bullying is active in the surrounding Coachella Valley and Riverside County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, and Orange County. As Founder and President of Boo2Bullying, Dimitri Halkidis creates and oversees interactive school assembly programs for grades K-12, entertaining video and animation content, and social media messaging that empowers bullied youth. Boo2Bullying programs include, school assemblies, Mothers Against Bullying, Community Outreach, Mentoring, and Empowerment through Art. The school assemblies facilitate a conversation on issues surrounding bullying nationally and guest speakers point out helpful ways to stand up, speak out, and raise awareness about all types of bullying. Boo2Bullying has worked closely with The Tolerance Education Center, SafeHouse of the Desert, Boys & Girls Club of Palm Springs and Temple Isaiah. Through the mentoring program, Boo2Bullying partners with guidance counselors to match a Boo2Bullying mentor who can inspire the students to stay in school, quit drugs and alcohol, seek help, and improve their self-image. Using these diverse tools, Halkidis and more than 50 Boo2Bullying volunteer “Ambassadors” nationwide give kids the tools to foster a healthy self-image, learn to accept diversity, speak their truth, and positively impact those around them.
  • Jenell VanDenBos - 2022
  • Ricardo Loretta - 2022
  • Patti Gribow - 2022
  • Jack Srebnik - 2022
  • Nathan Manderfeld - 2022
  • Bea Gonzalez -2022
  • Ernesto Rosales - 2022
  • Cathy Larson -2022
  • Dr. Ben Wehrli -2022
  • Dimitri Halkidis - 2022