Desert Town Hall’s first speaker series returns and turns 30


Desert town hall, presented by The HN & Frances C. Berger Foundation, is Coachella Valley’s first lecture series, and it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary this season.

Founded in 1993 as a for-profit organization, Desert Forum inc. became a nonprofit in 1996 and has brought over 100 dignitaries and statesmen, foreign leaders, industry titans, scientists, authors and creative thought leaders to Indian Wells to enlighten nearly 1,900 audiences per event on the key issues of the day.

The 2022 series will begin on January 23, with four speaker presentations continuing through March 14.

“This is most definitely the time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the speaker series, combined with having weathered the pandemic and now being able to bring renowned speakers back to the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa stage,” said Keith goff, Chairman of the Desert Forum Board of Directors. This season, we will hear from photographers and filmmakers who have explored and created astonishing documentary images of some of nature’s most awe-inspiring creatures, gain insight into current political realities, learn from the US Presidency, and gain insight over decades of acting and directing films through stories told by Hollywood brothers.

Keith Goff, Chairman of the Board of Desert Forum Inc., delivers the opening address and introduces the evening's guest speaker.

This year also marks a rare opportunity to secure tickets just before the start of the series. Each year at the end of the events, tickets are sold for the following year. However, as the lecture series was cut short last year due to the pandemic, the ability to sell tickets has been cut short. For the first time in many years, tickets are now available for purchase, starting at $ 400 for all four events. This year, the program includes:

  • Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier January 23. Photographers, filmmakers and explorers who document the beauty of our planet.
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Mike Huckabee February 1. Huckabee Sanders served as White House press secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2019. Huckabee hosts the “Huckabee” television show on TBN every weekend and has served as Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007.
  • Jon meacham February 24. Writer, critic and presidential biographer. A former editor and executive vice president of Random House, he is a contributing writer for The New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor for Time magazine, and a former editor for Newsweek.
  • Ron howard and Clint howard March 14. The Oscar-winning filmmaker and his actor brother will give their glimpse of a childhood spent on television, growing up in the midst of sound sets and Hollywood legends.

Previous speakers have included George W. Bush, George HW Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Tony Blair, Tony Snow, Newt Gingrich, Caroline Kennedy, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Tucker Carlson, Bill O’Reilly, Felipe Calderon, Charles Krauthammer, Mitt Romney, Benjamin Carson, Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, Robert Gates, Pervez Musharraf, Archbishop Desmund Tutu, John Walsh, Larry King and Dan Rather.

“Desert Town Hall had an array of deep presenters and created a world class experience,” said Christophe McGuire, Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the HN Foundation and Frances C. Berger. “It is gratifying to be associated with this organization which enriches our community and inspires our young people. “

Youth town hall

Desert Forum offers a unique opportunity in which high school students in the Coachella Valley area are invited to get involved with Desert Town Hall through its Youth Town Hall program. At each event, approximately 150 students hear a separate speech from the guest speaker, and the Youth Ambassadors provide an introduction to the speaker as they arrive on the intimate stage to speak to students and answer questions. Desert Forum also has a scholarship program to help students pursue higher education.

Former Youth Ambassador Andrew Hunter, along with NASA Astronaut Megan McArthur, serves as Youth Hall Facilitator.

As a class of graduates from La Quinta High School 2018, and now in its third year at California State University San Bernardino, Palm Desert Campus, Andrew Hunter is a former Youth Ambassador who had the opportunity to introduce NASA Astronaut Megan McArthur. His grandmother had heard about the program and encouraged Hunter to take an interest in it. He went on to attend many events during his early years in high school, served as a youth ambassador, and then became the host of Youth Town Hall, which he now pursues in season 30. He was also a recipient of the Youth Town Hall scholarship.

“It’s an incredible program that gives students the opportunity to broaden their horizons, learn more directly about current events and have an up-close experience with so many world leaders and innovative personalities – and very probably, a program of such a high caliber wouldn’t be found elsewhere in the country, ”said Hunter.

Becky kurtz served as executive director of Desert City Hall since 2013; Prior to taking this leadership role, she volunteered from the very first speech and never missed a single event in three decades. “I am fortunate to do what I love every day, live in a great community, stay engaged locally and connect renowned leaders with the citizens of Coachella Valley,” said Kurtz.

Judy Vossler is another volunteer who also sits on the board. First a patron ticket holder, she began volunteering in 2000 and only missed one speech. She has since joined the board of directors. “When the series started 30 years ago the community was so excited and the City of Indian Wells provided tremendous support to promote the series locally as well as regionally in Southern California which really raised the profile. of the city as a travel destination, ”said Vossler. “And after all these years, there is still so much enthusiasm every season for the speakers, and I find it so gratifying to volunteer every year.”

Guests enjoy cocktails before speeches at a Town Hall event at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa.

Desert Town Hall is supported by a number of sponsors and philanthropic foundations and through ticket sales. The HN & Frances C. Berger Foundation has been the main sponsor since 2012; other sponsors for the 2022 season include the City of Indian Wells, The desert sun, Foster-Gardner Inc., Roemer & Harnik LLP Lawyers and Legal Advisors, Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Sunrise Company / Toscana Country Club / Andalousia Country Club, 111 Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley and West Coast Lawn.

To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit deserttownhall.org or call (760) 610-2852.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris Clemens Martello lived and practiced public relations in the Coachella Valley for 20 years. She is the founder of ClemensPR, working with non-profit organizations and a variety of clients in various industries.

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