Toni Merrihew, Board Chair
Chandi Group USA
Toni Merrihew is the Chief Financial Officer of Chandi Group USA headquartered in Indio. Ms. Merrihew was an active supporter of local chambers for many years prior to joining the Board in Indio in 2015. She has enjoyed an extensive career in banking that spans over 20 years, with almost all of her efforts benefiting the Coachella Valley. She attended California State University-San Bernardino – College of Business and Public Administration and is a graduate of Leadership Coachella Valley.
Ernesto Rosales, Immediate Past Chair
Fitzhenry–Wiefels Cremation and Burial Services
Ernesto C. Rosales was a member of both the Indio and Coachella Chamber Boards and is a lifelong resident of the Coachella Valley. Ernesto has been proudly serving families in the funeral industry for 13 years. Ernesto is deeply rooted in our community, an active member of many organizations, and assists with countless charitable organizations in the Coachella Valley.
Jeff Levine, Chair Elect
Asher & Asher Consulting
Jeff Levine is the Vice President and Director of Client Services at Asher & Asher Consulting, “Advertising that Works!” He has been active in community based nonprofits throughout his career, including Past President for Desert AD FED, American Advertising Federating – Palm Springs. Jeff has been working with local clients, helping with their advertising and marketing needs for over 25 years in the Coachella Valley. He and his family are long-time residents of Indio. Jeff is an alumni of San Diego State University.
Jay Chesterton, Vice Chair
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino – Cabazon Band of Mission Indians
Jay Chesterton is the Vice President of Hotel and Food & Beverage at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, where he has worked since 2006. He has 30 years of experience in resort and food & beverage operations, having worked for some of the most recognized luxury brands in the world. Jay has remained active in his business community, serving on multiple local chamber boards.
Carmen Contreras, Treasurer
Carmen Contreras State Farm
Carmen Contreras is the proud owner of State Farm Insurance in Indio, and an Indio Chamber board member since 2014. She has been in the insurance industry since 1986. She enjoys playing an active role in helping the local community with business and personal insurance needs. Her office staff of dedicated professionals can often be found attending local ribbon cuttings and welcoming new business owners to our valley. Carmen is a graduate of Palo Verde College and has three children.
Rich Ramhoff, Secretary
Desert Regional Medical Center
Rich Ramhoff served on the La Quinta Chamber Board of Directors prior to his transition to the GCVCC, and was an original member of the committee to help plan the new regional chamber. He currently serves as the Director of Marketing at Desert Regional Medical Center. Previously, Rich had a successful career in publishing, serving in leadership positions for a major media company, including President & Publisher at three daily newspapers. Rich is married with two children and resides in La Quinta, CA.
DIRECTORS AT LARGE
Valerie Ward is the Director of Community Affairs at Burrtec Waste & Recycling Services. She is responsible for developing and creating Burrtec’s public education materials, the company web site, and media relations. Prior to joining Burrtec she worked in the environmental field in Redmond, Washington. Long active in nonprofit organizations and committees, she also has extensive experience with chambers of commerce and has served on the boards of the Indian Wells, Cathedral City, Indio, and Palm Desert.
Jennifer Van Horn
Spotlight 29/Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians
Jennifer Van Horn is the Tribal Economic Development Coordinator at the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. Since 1995, Spotlight 29 Casino has been the place where the Coachella Valley comes to play. Located just south of Interstate 10 at Dillon Road, Spotlight 29 boasts in-demand slots, world-class table games and blackjack, plus a variety of delicious dining options sure to satisfy any palate. Spotlight 29 is also home to the spectacular, 2,200 seat Spotlight Showroom.
North American Title
Deirdre “Dede” Callanan is a real estate professional with North American Title, one of the largest real estate settlement service providers in the United States. She previously served on the Coachella Chamber of Commerce Board before transitioning to the GCVCC. She stays active in her community, supporting many charitable organizations with her time and talent. Dede resides in Indio with her husband.
Mickey Jumapao has over 24 years experience in Real Estate Mortgage Lending. She previously served on the La Quinta Chamber Board of Directors and has served many Non-Profits throughout her career in the desert. She is currently active with the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals, the Veterans Advisory Board for the office of Congressman Ruiz, and the Unforgettables Foundation. Mickey was the 2017-18 GCVCC Volunteer of the Year.
Tatiana Yturralde is the Regional Director of West Coast Cannabis Club based in the Coachella Valley. Ms. Yturralde is an active supporter of local chambers, as well as numerous philanthropic organizations. She is currently enrolled in Leadership Coachella Valley – Class of 2019. With an extensive background in restaurant and event management, she gained skills she was able to apply to her new role as a leader in the burgeoning local Cannbis industry. After living all over the country, from Alaska to New York, she is happy to make her hometown of Palm Desert her home again.
Coachella Valley Economic Partnership
Lesa Bodnar is the Chief of Staff at the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. She has been with the organization for over 7 years, bringing with her an extensive administrative and events background. She previously served for several years on the board of the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce, most recently as its Board Chair, and played a key role in the recent merger with the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce. A resident of the valley for over 30 years, she is a graduate of Leadership Coachella Valley and the IEEP Regional Leadership Academy.
Modern Woodmen of America
Austin Beneteau is a Financial Representative at Modern Woodmen of America, a member-owned fraternal financial services organization. He uses his knowledge of financial products and needs to help members of the Southern California community plan for their financial future. Austin is a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University. In addition to his work with the Chamber, he also volunteers for the American Cancer Society.
David Nola has enjoyed a career in media and advertising that has spanned over 20 years, most recently serving as the General Sales Manager/National Sales Manager at Alpha Media in Palm Springs. Alpha Media owns or operates 250 radio stations within 51 markets across the US. Prior to his career in media David proudly served in the United States Marine Corps. He is originally from Buffalo, NY where he attended State College.
JFK Memorial Hospital
Debbie Wales has worked in the healthcare industry for 35 years, spending the last 15 years at JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio. She has worked in radiology, managed the Arthritis Institute, and has been part of the Business Development team for over three years. She is the Community Relations/Marketing Coordinator and represents both JFK Memorial Hospital and Desert Regional Medical Center throughout the community. Debbie holds an Associate Degree in Health Record Administration, is a Certified Medical Assistant and Certified Medical Coder and Biller.
Capitis Real Estate
Mike Williams has spent over 20 years managing country clubs here in the Coachella Valley, eventually making a successful move to real estate. He now works in the year round real estate market in our valley helping clients with all their needs, including primary residential and investment properties. He was active with the La Quinta Chamber of Commerce as a Director prior to moving to the GCVCC. Mike and his wife reside in La Quinta, CA.
Julio Figueroa has spent almost 20 years with AT&T in various roles. He currently serves as the Director of External Affairs Riverside/San Bernardino Counties where he handles external affairs for all aspects of AT&T, including cellular, cable, internet and satellite services. Julio is original from Banning, CA and currently works out of AT&T’s regional office in Riverside.
Mission Springs Water District
Victoria Llort is an active member of the Coachella Valley Business Community. In her professional role she serves as Programs & Public Affairs Associate at Mission Springs Water District. She is also active in non-profits, working with American Outreach Foundation to enhance the quality of life of those touched by a limiting disability in the Coachella Valley by donating electric wheelchairs to veterans, children and adults.
Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa
Cindy Burreson is the Senior Catering Sales Executive at Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa and has worked in hospitality for over 13 years in the Valley. She has remained active in the community through networking and volunteering, as well as having served on other Chamber Boards, as President of the Greater Palm Springs Wedding Association for the past four years and as a former Board Member and speaker for Shelter From the Storm to name a few. Cindy’s “favorite job” is being a wife and mom of two boys, residing in Palm Desert.
Herman Sebastian Garcia
Herman Garcia is the Assistant Vice President – Branch Manager for Mechanics Bank in Coachella. He has over 15 years of branch management and finance experience, and over 18 years in management. Herman previously served on the Coachella Business District before being elected to the GCVCC Board of Directors.
Family YMCA of the Desert
Rob Ballew is the CEO of the Family YMCA of the Desert. Rob arrived in the Coachella Valley in 2000 and is currently in his 42nd year as a YMCA professional. Rob oversees 41 YMCA program sites throughout the valley. Rob served 6 years on the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce Board and has been a long time member of the Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade Committee. Rob is passionate about promoting business in our valley and is excited to work with the valley business community.
Western Water Works
Mike Etheridge is the Sales Director for Western Waterworks in Coachella. Mike served on the board of the Coachella Chamber for over 12 years. Mike supplies water and sewer projects throughout Southern California working out of the Western Water Works office in Coachella. Mike serves on the Coachella Planning Commission, Coachella Economic Development Board, and is a board member for Imagine School Riverside along with other organizations. Mike attended New Mexico State University and is married with three children and lives in La Quinta.
Frazier Pest Control
Julie Frazier is the proud owner of Frazier Pest Control in Cathedral City and a chamber member since 2007. She previously served on the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce board before transitioning to the GCVCC. Alongside her husband Joe they have been in the pest control industry since 1987. She enjoys playing an active role in helping the local community through participation in community based nonprofits like the Boys & Girls Club of Cathedral City.
Ramiro Jimenez is an Assistant Vice President at FirstBank where his focus is on loan originations and business development. He is a graduate of UC Merced in California’s Central Valley where he received a B.S. in Management. Ramiro also serves on the board of the Consortium for Early Learning Services – Eastern Region.
Jeff Fishbein is a real estate consultant with an extensive corporate sales and management background with a Forbes Top 25 customer service focused Private Corporation. Currently he specializes in residential real estate and investment opportunities with Coldwell Banker in La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and the entire Coachella Valley communities.
LOCAL CHAMBER CHAIRS (GCVCC BOARD ADVISORS)