Our Dedicated Board In Action
The Well in the Desert is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides daily nutritious hot meals, emergency food assistance, weekly supplemental food distribution and a wide array of services through advocacy to those
affected by poverty, including the working poor, the homeless, seniors, the handicapped and others in need throughout the western end
of the Coachella Valley.
Our mission fuels programs for poverty prevention, direct services for poverty intervention, and an organized effort to advocate for the poor.
ARLENE ROSENTHAL, President
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and got a B.A. in Spanish at U.C.L.A. After graduating in 1966, I worked for the Probation Department as a counselor and then as a bilingual teacher in the L.A. District. The lure of Berkeley and all the social change happening there was too great so I picked up and left L.A. for life in the Bay Area. I spent several years there teaching school and enjoying all the political ferver, the S.F. Opera House, the Symphony, theater, and all the natural outdoors where one could hike and commune with nature. I came to the desert in 1973, worked as a bilingual teacher until starting my own custom-clothing business. My spirit of community stuck and I found myself involved in social change and working in organizations where I could help to bring that about for those who were unable to advocate for themselves. It was as a child that my parents taught me the value of community action and interaction and the idea that we had an obligation to help make things better in the world in which we lived. After years of serving on many boards and raising much money I was asked to sit on the Board of the Well in the Desert. I later became its President and serve with much pleasure. I am also proud to serve as President of OperaArts, an organization created to provide quality cultural events to the public for free or for affordable prices.
DARCI DANIELS-MURPHY, Vice President
Darci decided nearly three years ago to search for a “home grown charity” that was above board and served our community, somewhere that she could align her popular Desert Jam Session while working for the betterment of those who are less fortunate. And when she eventually discovered The Well and President Arlene Rosenthal, she knew she had found what she was looking for. A well-known and very sought after entertainer who has her own star on Palm Springs Walk of Fame, Darci also serves as a real estate investor in addition to serving on boards for the American Legion, Red Hot Ballroom Dancers, numerous after school programs and Iron Horse Marines. She grew up in Palm Springs and for fun loves to spend time with her family, play music, write shows and read. She says her favorite aspect of living in Palm Springs is the “sense of community on so many levels”. Three words that her friends have used to describe this talented lady are kind, funny and compassionate. As for the future of The Well, she looks forward to The Well occupying its new home, knowing that this will allow for a special place for growth.
DENNIS JORY - Secretary
A retired high school and university educator of 38 years, Dennis Jory now teaches art locally at the Mizell Senior Center and the LGBT Community Center. A long-time champion for the underdog, Dennis has helped oversee the Nesteggg Food Bank for the LGBT Center for the past 3½ years. He also served as secretary on The Center’s Executive Board for seven years.
Dennis is a practicing artist who has shown his award-winning art and photographs in museums and galleries throughout California. He graduated with a BA and a double major in art and English from the University of Idaho and received his Master’s Degree in gifted education from Cal Poly University at San Luis Obispo.
A world traveler, whose teaching assignments range from kindergarten to graduate school to a maximum-security ward of a federal penitentiary, he has served as a judge for art and writing competitions for numerous school districts as well as for the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Indian Wells Art Festival and the Tolerance Education Center.
Dennis has two adult children, both educators, and four grand children. He has been a valley resident for 33 years, currently resides in Rancho Mirage and is honored to be named to the Well in the Desert Board of Directors.
Dennis Jory was named California Teacher of the Year in 1993.
CARDRINER BOWDEN - Treasurer
Cardriner hails from North Carolina. She received her B. S. degree from North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro, NC, which is the home of the sit in demonstrations at the Woolworth counter. She spent eleven days in jail while in attendance for trying to integrate a movie theatre.
She taught for six years in the Prince George’s County Maryland school system before moving to Inglewood, CA. For the next 35 1/2 years, she was employed by the LA Unified School District as a teacher and in various administrative positions. Her M. Ed. degree was received at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
She has been volunteering practically all her life. “I believe in helping people and trying to help them better their lives and make a positive difference.” While in Los Angeles, she served as treasurer and president of the Los Angeles Urban League Urbanites which was a financial support of the LA Urban League and held other positions in various other organizations.
She retired in 2007 and moved to the Desert. Since arriving, she has volunteered at Eisenhower Medical Center, served as treasurer of Democratic Women of the Desert, currently volunteers as an usher at the McCallum Theatre, serves as an education ambassador for the Muses and Patroness Circle, the current women’s fellowship leader of her church, drives for Neighbor 4 Neighbor, is the current vice chair of the Public Safety Committee for her community, was honored in 2012 as volunteer of the year by Democratic Women of the Desert, and participates in many other organizations.
She was very elated when she was asked to join the Well in the Desert Board of Directors. “I am honored that they felt I had something worthwhile to add to this organization which does so much good for so many people.”
In her spare time, of which she has very little, she loves listening to jazz and soul music, attending concerts, reading, dining at fine restaurants, traveling, and of course volunteering.
DAMIR DANNY DONLAGIC - Director
I was born in Bosnia in 1985 and grew up during the Balkan war. I moved with my parents to the United States in 1993 at the age of eight as a refugee from the war. I will never forget the humanitarian help my family and I received the first few months and am honored to have the opportunity to assist in giving the same kind of help back to others in need. I graduated from College of the Desert with an A.A. in Philosophy and transferred to CSU San Bernardino, where I received a B.A. in Multi-Disciplinary Social Science. Going through a social science program in college has given me priceless knowledge and respect for other cultures, races, and situations as well as an unbiased and more collected approach to examining social issues. I have also been helping my family operate our cafe/restaurant Cafe Jasmin, which has been open in downtown Palm Springs since 1995. I am very honored to be able to serve as a board member and truly strive to bring many good ideas to the table as well as assist our needy community as best as I can.
MATT NAYLOR - Director
Matt Naylor was born in Los Angeles, and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah.
He had a rich upbringing in the Arts, and Music, and thanks to that plays the piano; classical music, his own compositions, and all other genres of music. He also plays the violin. So engrained in him was the love of music that he opened the Marquee Academy of Performing Arts, where music is taught to the students who attend their classes, along with dance, drama, and other performing arts.
Matt’s professional career is that of Pool Designer and Builder. His company, Architectural Blue, is a testament to excellence; his pools are some of the most beautifully designed in the Coachella Valley. Matt does everything with passion and excitement; and the end results are proof of that. Just recently he bought a coffee plantation in Puerto Rico after finding out he was of Puerto Rican background. He has undertaken the job of bringing the plantation back to its rich state, and photos tell us that he has a Midas touch in all that he is involved with. He joined the Board of the Well a few years ago and has been a major part of the Well’s growth and well-being. He is one to roll up his sleeves and gets involved in all aspects of the Well in the Desert business. He is dedicated to the well-being of our clients and to the Well in the Desert.
LINDA M LEVINSON - Director
Linda Levinson is a Certified Employee Assistance Professional (CEAP) and has many years of experience in the administration and hands on organization of multidisciplinary mental health andaddiction programs. She has been an advocate for the mentally ill working with families to assist them in finding resources.
Certified in Critical incidence Stress Debriefing, Linda has worked with first responders, particularly fire departments, called to traumatic events to assist with victims . Follow up with responders as well as victims to help address any Post Traumatic Stress symptoms and was available as a resource for after care.
As CEO of Corporate Health Plans, an Employee Assistance Program, Linda gave seminars to management of many different size corporations and education to employees on alcohol and drugs in the workplace. Employees had the resources to address any mental health or addiction issues through the EAP which was confidential. Linda assisted companies in developing a Drug Free Workplace to comply with the Federal Mandate .
Linda studied at the University of San Diego School of Alcohol and other Drug studies summer school and the American Society of Addiction Medicine .
Linda's first career was in banking. She was the first woman Operations Officer for Montecito Bank and Trust in Santa Barbara. Linda had held several Management and Officer positions throughout her career. She studied at Santa Barbara City College and the American Institute of Banking.
MICHELE CONEYBAERE - Director
I was born in Vancouver, and raised in Western Canada. I moved to Palm Springs with my two young sons in 1991 to be closer to family after my divorce. While I was growing up, my parents instilled the Jewish concept of Tikun Olam (repairing the world) by contributing financially to many philanthropic causes and by giving their time once their business was established. I believe in giving back and have spent most of my adult life volunteering at one or more non-profits at a time. I have been on several boards and currently volunteer for three local organizations, including the Well. I believe in and support Well in the Desert’s mission and am happy to help them succeed any way I can.
PAT DUGAS - Ambassador
Pat Dugas retired from the University of Southern California as Systems & Web Manager and campus photographer for university literature and installations of her photography art. She only retired because she casually came to Palm Springs to visit her tennis buddy/real estate agent. Four months later, she found herself retired and living in PS Paradise. This freedom allowed the real Pat Dugas to emerge, and for better or worse, she is now wallowing in her abstractions; art, sculpture, photography, poetry, blogging, and tennis. She qualified professionally to join the National League of American Pen Woman with a dual membership as writer and artist. She became their VP Webmaster, Event Reporter, and Photographer. She was accepted as a guest reporter for the Desert Sun /Desert Scene. She met Arlene Rosenthal at one of her fund raisers. Arlene took her on as the ambassador for The Well.
How did Pat get to be a snob? She was born in Boston and snobbery is required. With a French Canadian heritage, she graduated from Ecole Saint Pierre. She attended the New England of Art. You would see her on the trolley, clutching her portfolio, in the dead of winter… You get the picture. Real artists must suffer deprivation. Then Oops. she got married, put her paint pots and portfolio aside, moved to California, and - Oops again, had four wonderful children. Remaining bi-coastal with bi-coastal babies, she returned to Boston, then returned again to USC and is now a desert dweller. As ambassador for the Well, she delights in sharing the Well message all over the Valley and being a small part of the work we do.
JOAN WOLFF - Director
My name is Joan Wolff, born in Los Angeles, California. Grew up in Beverly Hills and graduated from Beverly Hills High. Attended UCLA. Married a New Yorker and have two children, divorced, and have been with my partner, Ernie for 36 years. I have been on numerous boards over the 33 years living in Palm Springs. To name a few…President of Tiempo de Los Ninos. Started a hospice at Desert Hospital (with 3 others), on the auxiliary board of Desert Regional M.C. Vice President of the police advisory board, a long standing board member of the Foundation of the retarded (ARC), Stroke Center Auxiliary Board, started the Make a Wish Foundation in the valley.
SANDRA CURRY - Director
Sandra was born in Vancouver Canada, was raised in several provinces and Germany, as an “Army Brat.” After graduation, she returned to Vancouver and graduated from The Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing. S he worked in Operating Rooms at hospitals in Portland, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Indio. After a back injury, she enrolled in college and earned degrees in Health Science, Marriage and Family Therapy and Clinical Psychology. She worked in Psychiatric Emergency Rooms for 15 years and is a Licensed Psychologist with a private practice in Palm Springs. She has lived in Palm Springs for nearly five decades and has been volunteering since her arrival. She has volunteered with Junior Aid of the Desert, Children’s Home Society, the United Methodist Church, Palm Valley School Parent’s Council, the Ophelia Project, Palm Springs Women’s Club, Palm Springs SunUp Rotary and most recently, Well in the Desert. She was very pleased to be asked to join the Well in the Desert Board, since she has long had an interest in helping to increase services offered to homeless residents in the community. Spare time is spent with family and friends, hiking, camping, cooking and dining out.
LEO DANIEL MILMET - Director
Leo was born in Detroit, MI on January 28, 2003 to Sarah and Morris Milmet. Leo’s dad passed away when Leo was 9 months old. When Leo was one, he began reading, and at age two he attended Stepping Stone school for gifted children. His hobbies are reading books, writing plays, acting, and traveling. Leo has been to England, The Netherlands, Israel, Canada, Mexico and many of the 50 states. He was personally invited to attend a Captain’s ceremony on The USS Ronald Reagan. When Leo was 6, he and his mom moved to Rancho Mirage. Leo never buys a present for himself, only friends and family. After Leo asked to help a homeless man, Leo began serving meals at the park, where he met Arlene Rosenthal! Just before Leo turned nine years old, Arlene Rosenthal and the Board of Well In The Desert, invited Leo to be an ambassador, and subsequently a board member. Leo has been blessed to remain on the board, and has been fortunate enough to make speeches for various charities including: The Well In The Desert, OperaArts, Jewish Community School of the Desert and ACT for MS. Leo is the youngest Founder of the McCallum theater and one of the youngest Uncles at the Sinatra Center for Abused Children. Leo’s motto is taken from his late father’s page, “Always help others, and always give back!” Leo Milmet is now 15 years old and currently starring in the play, “ The Drowsy Chaperone”, at Palm Valley School.
CHARLIE PAGLIA - Director
I am a native of Los Angeles and lived in the area until retiring in 2006. I served in the Navy during the Vietnam era. I completed my education at California State University Los Angeles, and taught as a speech pathologist in elementary schools for 26 years in Glendale.
My husband and I moved to Palm Springs permanently in 2008. Life in the desert has been unexpectedly rewarding and active. I have tutored at Cahuilla Elementary for eleven years, and discovered the Well in the Desert eight years ago. I started as a volunteer, and then joined the Board of Directors, as well as the Advisory Board.
What a gift for me in sharing with the members of the Well and the people we serve.
We welcome Stu Berger to the board. His information will be posted soon.