World Affairs Council of the Desert






Board of Directors 2016-2017



Dr. John D. Welty

John D. Welty 


Dr. John D. Welty is President Emeritus of California State University, Fresno.  Dr. Welty served as president of California State University , Fresno for 22 years (1991-2013).  He is also a professor in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.  He served as Trustee Professor of the California State Univesity for two years after retiring from the Fresno State Presidency.  Dr. Welty received his bachelor's degree in Social Science From Western Illinois University, Macomb in 1965; his master in College Student Personnel Services from Michigan State University in 1967; and his doctorate in Administration of Higher Education from Indiana University, Bloomington , in 1974.  Dr. and his wife, Dr. Sharon Brown-Welty, have five children and five grandchildren. 



Mrs. Jean Carrus

Jean Carrus

Chairman of the World Affairs Council of the Desert

Life Member and Director since 1985

Jean Carrus has resided in the desert since 1985, and is a well-known philanthropist who serves and has served on many Boards for Coachella Valley non-profits. A partial list includes Brandeis University National Committee, The Palm Springs Art Museum, The Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, the Palm Spring Opera Guild of the Desert, the College of the Desert Foundation, and the Tolerance Education Center.


B. Gen. Guido J. Portante, U.S. Army (Retired) 

Guido Portante


 BG (R) Guido J. Portante had a distinguished 37 year career in the United States Army and California Army National Guard before he retired. He began his career as a private and retired as a Brigadier General. During his military career he served in many capacities from commander of troops to key staff assignments. He interacted and supported Local, State, and Federal political leaders in civil unrest and natural disasters. He worked closely with Local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies in support of counter-drug operations along the California Mexico border. BG Portante graduated from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and his civilian education consists of a BS in Management from Pacific Christian College, and a Masters of Public Administration from Shippensburg University. WACD President 2012 - 2016.



John Westerholm CFO/Vice President


John Westerholm 


John Westerholm is semi-retired from a career in engineering, manufacturing and financial management working for both large public corporations and small business. For the last 30 years he has owned and managed companies in the financial services and postsecondary education fields.



Becky Kurtz Vice President


Becky Kurtz


Becky is currently the Executive Director of the Desert Town Hall, the desert's renowned lecture series that hosts leaders from around the world, such as several former US Presidents, the British Prime Minister, David Blair, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. She is the former editor of the Palm Springs Life magazine.



 Meegan Sullivan Secretary



Meegan Sullivan is President/CEO of Proper Solutions located in Indian Wells. Meegan currently serves as the President of the Palm Desert Rotary Club. She has served for the past six years on the Board of Directors of the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce. During her time with the Chamber, she has served on the Executive Committee, Human Resources Accreditation Committee, and Mixer Chair for three years. She is also an active Board Member of the Galilee Center in Mecca, a non-profit organization that provides food and services to the migrant farm working population of the East Valley.


Dr. Doris Wilson

doris wilson.jpg

Doris is the Assistant Dean of the Palm Desert Campus of California State University, San Bernardino. She holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California. Her professional career includes thirteen years as a teacher, twenty years in public school administration and ten years as professor and administrator for the University of Southern California.



George Gallagher

George Gallagher

George Gallagher is a retired senior airline executive with extensive international experience. . He spent 38 years with Pam American WorldAirways and four years with United Airlines. George spent seventeen years in Europe including five years in Berlin, nine years in the Middle East, four years in the Indian Subcontinent, and one year in West Africa.


Karen Speros

Karen Speros

Karen Speros is a graduate of Northwestern U with a MA from USIU. Her extensive teaching career includes public and private schools in Irvine, CA and Australia. Working with students at WorldQuest is her main focus on the WACD and PanHellenic Boards.



Gordon Kramer


Gordon worked as an Aerospace Engineer from 1959 to 1996. He worked primarily as a researcher with semiconductor sensors and later as a Program Manager on programs related to Ballistic Missile defense at Hughes Aircraft Company. He graduated from Cal Tech with a Master of Science degree in Engineering Science.   Following retirement from engineering Gordon spent 10 years as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) with American Express and Ameriprise Financial.  He volunteers his time to tutor students in math at Palm Desert Middle School and at the Boys and Girls Club.  He is married for 25 years to his wife Eve and they enjoy their 6 grandchildren.



 Meredith Bettencourt

Meredith Bettencourt

Meredith Bettencourt is a former IBM sales executive, with 25 years of entrepreneurial business experience and is a principal in Bettencourt & Associates, a real estate planning and development consulting firm.Meredith is also a Director of the Opera Showcase of the Desert, and is a native English speaker who is bilingual in Spanish.



Ed Tauber


Ed coined the term “Brand Extension” in 1979 to describe using the leverage of a well known brand name in one category to launch a new product in a different category. As a result, he formed Brand Extension Research in 1981 to develop brand extensions for major clients. He is a pioneer of brand extension insights that look beyond just measuring consumer permission to also identify a brand’s unique competitive advantage to ensure success. Ed has identified and launched new products valued in the hundreds of millions. His major successes include Nestle-Gerber Infant Formula, Clorox Clean-up, Dole Fruit & Juice Bars and Snickers Ice Cream Bars.  A former Director of Research for Dancer, Fitzgerald, Sample NY (Saatchi) and Director of Market Research at Nestle-Carnation, Ed holds a Ph.D. in Business from Cornell, and an MA Economics from University of Virginia.


 Katharine Russell



Katharine A. Russell is a retired executive from the biopharmaceutical industry. She has served on numerous college advisory boards and currently is a trustee of St. Mary's College of Maryland, the public honors college of Maryland. Katharine volunteers in the library of the Palm Springs Air Museum. She has written several novels in retirement.


 David R Thatcher, CFP®




David Thatcher is a Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor with The Cypress Group, a Division of Integrated Wealth Management. David provides comprehensive wealth planning to high net worth families, institutions and business owners. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, David strives to help his clients manage, preserve and grow their wealth consistent with their financial goalsand objectives.  Prior to Integrated Wealth Management, David was a Vice President and Financial Advisor with The Cypress Group at Morgan Stanley for six years, and was a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch prior to his tenure at Morgan Stanley.  Previously, David worked and lived in New York City. He earned his Bachelors of Arts degree with a minor in Business and speaks fluent Spanish. David enjoys spending time with his four children and his wife. He is an avid golfer and enjoys traveling.








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