Desert Gala Honorees

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

DeAnn Lubell Ames  - 2018

DeAnn Lubell Ames - 2018

Richard Balocco -2018

Richard Balocco -2018

Michelle Bergeron - 2018

Michelle Bergeron - 2018

Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018

Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018

Susana Chandi - 2018

Susana Chandi - 2018

Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018

Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018

George And Nancy Huntington - 2018

George And Nancy Huntington - 2018

Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018

Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018

Tanya Moreno -2018

Tanya Moreno -2018

Margot Nelligan - 2018

Margot Nelligan - 2018

Sean Roberts and Gina Garside - 2018

Sean Roberts and Gina Garside - 2018

  • DeAnn Lubell Ames  - 2018
  • Richard Balocco -2018
  • Michelle Bergeron - 2018
  • Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018
  • Susana Chandi - 2018
  • Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018
  • George And Nancy Huntington - 2018
  • Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018
  • Tanya Moreno -2018
  • Margot Nelligan - 2018
  • Sean Roberts and Gina Garside - 2018
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sean Roberts and Gina Garside - 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.
  • DeAnn Lubell Ames  - 2018
  • Richard Balocco -2018
  • Michelle Bergeron - 2018
  • Dr. Murray Brandstater - 2018
  • Susana Chandi - 2018
  • Dr. Eric Davenport - 2018
  • George And Nancy Huntington - 2018
  • Dr. Tamela Martin - 2018
  • Tanya Moreno -2018
  • Margot Nelligan - 2018
  • Sean Roberts and Gina Garside - 2018