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Advancing Community wellness in the Coachella Valley

Board and Staff

Board Directors

Les Zendle, MD

President
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.

Leticia De Lara, MPA

Vice-President & Secretary

Leticia De Lara joined the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation Board in January 2019, bringing extensive leadership experience and a deep understanding of how government works. 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.

Mark Matthews

Treasurer
Mr. Matthews owns Wiefels and Sons Funeral Directors and manages several facilities in the desert region. He has served Desert Hospital/Regional Medical Center in various capacities since 1988. Notably he participated at the board level and was instrumental in negotiating the lease of the hospital to Tenet Health System in 1997. He was a long-time board member of the Association of California Healthcare Districts. He also served as a member of the city of Palm Springs Planning Commission, past president of Mizell Senior Center, and on the boards of other Coachella Valley organizations.

Karen Borja

Director

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. 

Carole Rogers, RN, MPH

Director
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. 

Evett PerezGil

Director

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 pubic on expansion in 2018. She’s committed to encouraging and supporting health and wellness issues that affect the diverse communities the District serves.

Staff Members

Chris Christensen

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

Donna Craig

Senior 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.

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.

Alejandro Espinoza

Program Officer & Director of Outreach
Plans, develops and reports outreach efforts and programs to build relationships between the District and the community, and implements services to match needs.

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.

Meghan Kane, MPH

Community Health Analyst
Connects and collaborates with community organizations and residents to identify the priorities and research needs of communities across the Coachella Valley.

Vanessa Smith

Health Coordinator
Develops and presents health education and promotion programs through community presentations, school partnerships and classroom curriculum.

Stephen Huyck

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