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Advancing Community wellness in the Coachella Valley

Board and Staff

The Desert Healthcare District is a local government agency formed in 1948. Its mission is to achieve optimal health at all stages of life for all District residents. The District includes more than 400,000 residents and encompasses the entire Coachella Valley. It is funded primarily through a portion of Riverside County property tax collected in the Coachella Valley, as well as public and private donations and lease revenue. The District and Desert Healthcare Foundation, together, are one of the largest funders in the valley. These funds are used to assist residents — especially the underserved and vulnerable members of our community — in accessing vitally needed resources, such as primary health care, dental and behavioral healthcare, housing, food, and transportation to medical appointments. The District owns the Desert Regional Medical Center campus in Palm Springs, California, but the hospital facilities are leased and operated by Tenet Healthcare.

 

Board Directors

Leticia De Lara, MPA

President

(January 2019-November 2020) Leticia De Lara brings extensive leadership experience and a deep understanding of how government works to the Board. She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Access Project Foundation. Prior to joining RAP in 2014, she spent five years as the district director for Fourth District Riverside County Supervisor John J. Benoit. That followed almost 11 years as the chief of staff for Benoit’s predecessor, Supervisor Roy Wilson. A lifelong Coachella Valley resident who’s made public service a priority, Leticia has served as vice-chairwoman of the Continuum of Care Board of Governance, and board director with Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, Lift to Rise and Riverside County First 5 Commission.

Karen Borja

Vice-President & Secretary

(January 2019-November 2022) With more than 10 years of experience in nonprofit management and grassroots organizing, Karen Borja of Indio joined the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation Board in January 2019. She is a self-described “translator” between community needs and government who is adept at directing projects and managing staff, volunteers and board members. Borja’s community leadership efforts range from organizer of the 2019 Coachella Valley’s Women’s March and co-manager of an election campaign, to board member with the Health Assessment and Research for Communities and member of the Women United of the Desert. She’s currently employed as the Riverside County Community Affairs Director with Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. 

Arthur Shorr

Board Treasurer
(April 2019-November 2020) Arthur S. Shorr is president and founder of Arthur S. Shorr & Associates, Inc., Consultants to Health Care Providers; a management consulting firm specializing in providing operational consulting, business, and strategic planning services to healthcare providers. Mr. Shorr holds a Master of Business Administration degree in healthcare administration from The George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and economics from Brooklyn College, City University of New York.  He is board-certified in healthcare administration, and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Mr. Shorr has been active professionally in the healthcare field for over 40 years on a full-time basis.

Carole Rogers, RN, MPH

Director

(2018-2022) A licensed registered nurse with over 45 years of healthcare experience, Carole Rogers previously served as a Director and Board Chairwoman with the Eden Township Healthcare District (Castro Valley, CA). Her employment history includes the position of director of health financing systems for Seton Medical Center in Pacifica, and as executive director at Mercy Health Plan - Mercy Medical Center in San Diego, Contra Costa Health Providers in Walnut Creek, Diablo Valley IPA/PPO in Concord, and Contra Costa Health Plan in Martinez. She has applied her medical training and volunteer spirit in many capacities, including for Hurricane Katrina Victims and as a Rotary team member on projects in Zimbabwe and Ghana.


Les Zendle, MD

Director

(2016- November 2020) Dr. Zendle is a physician specializing in internal medicine and geriatrics. In 2010, he retired from Kaiser Permanente and joined Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine, a no-charge clinic in Indio offering primary medical and dental services to low-income residents without health insurance. At CVVIM, he served as a volunteer physician, board member and medical director. He changed his status from medical director to volunteer in January 2018, to focus his attention on the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation.


Evett PerezGil

Director

(2018-2022) A proud 40-year resident of Cathedral City, Evett PerezGil was employed as a community health worker for more than a year in the city’s Dream Homes neighborhood. The experience provided her with the tools to uplift, inspire and advocate for residents. Through the Dream Homes Initiative, she also honed her philanthropy skills. In addition, PerezGil has been a long-term volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Cathedral City, supporting the indoor soccer league and other programs for participating youths. Helping and serving the undeserved are principles she strives to live by. Evett was often in attendance during the Desert Healthcare District’s efforts to educate the public on expansion in 2018. She’s committed to encouraging and supporting health and wellness issues that affect the diverse communities the District serves.

Carmina Zavala, MA

Director

(November 2020-November 2024) Elected from Zone 3 of the Desert Healthcare District, -- which includes parts of Cathedral City, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage -- Carmina Zavala brings invaluable experience as a mental health professional to the Board of Directors. She has worked with clinics across the Coachella Valley that serve residents of various ages with psychological distress and other challenges. She currently works with the chronically mentally ill at a Palm Springs outpatient clinic. And, she is pursuing a doctoral degree in applied clinical psychology through The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Zavala looks forward to channeling her efforts toward designing and implementing strategies to improve health services. 


Staff Members

Dr. Conrado E. Bárzaga

Chief Executive Officer

Provides leadership and guidance in all District and Foundation matters: reports to the Board, oversees a $7 million annual budget, develops operational policies, and directs administrative and program activities.

Email: cbarzaga@dhcd.org  

Chris Christensen

Chief Administration Officer

A strategic role in management with day-to-day responsibilities for planning, implementing, managing and controlling all financial-related activities.

Email: cchristensen@dhcd.org 

Donna Craig

Chief Program Officer

Works in collaboration with the COO, program staff and grantees to identify grant-making opportunities to help fulfill the District and Foundation's purpose and Strategic Plan.

Email: dcraig@dhcd.org 

Alejandro Espinoza

Chief of Community Engagement

Plans, develops and reports outreach efforts and programs to build relationships between the District and the community, and implements services to match needs.

Email: aespinoza@dhcd.org 

Will Dean

Director of Communications and Marketing

Develops and implements external and internal communications, marketing and public relations strategies and materials to engage and inform the public.

Email: wdean@dhcd.org 

Meghan Kane, MPH

Senior Program Officer - Public Health



Works to strengthen data sharing relationships, conducts data analysis to address health disparities and inequities, and helps to provide grant program oversight and administration. 

Email: mkane@dhcd.org 

Jana Trew, MS

Senior Program Officer - Behavioral Health
Duties include working in collaboration with the District and Foundation program staff and grantees to identify collaboration opportunities and implement a collective impact approach to the Coachella Valley Behavioral Health Coalition.

Email: jtrew@dhcd.org

Andrea S. Hayles

Special Assistant to the CEO & Board Relations Officer

Supports the CEO with complex project management and administrative duties; coordinates District election proceedings, oversees Board and committee meetings, and develops Board documents.

Email: ahayles@dhcd.org 

Erica Huskey

Administrative & Program Assistant

Responsible for administrative duties such as organizing and expediting workflow for the District’s administrative and program departments.


 Email: ehuskey@dhcd.org

Eric Taylor

Accounting Manager

Establishes financial status by developing and implementing systems for collecting, analyzing, verifying and reporting financial information.

Email: etaylor@dhcd.org