Log in

About Us

The Literary Society of the Desert is a non-profit organization that was established in 2015 to continue a tradition of literary luncheons in the Valley. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, approved by the IRS and the California Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Division.  FEIN 47-4859052

Through the generosity of our Sponsors, Patrons, and Members we provide programs and financial support to promote literacy and the love of reading in our community. 

In our inaugural year we organized five luncheons for more than 250 members and guests, hosted student groups from ten area schools to participate in a small group discussion with the featured author and also provided special project grants to every public library in the Coachella Valley.


Nancy D. Cunningham
Founding Board


Ms. Cunningham is the Founding President of the Literary Society of the Desert.  She retired from a career in both the corporate and non-profit worlds, serving as Manager of Stockholder Relations for General Motors and, prior to that, Manager of Educational Relations and Communications for General Motors Design. She was the Executive Director of the Detroit Historical Society and a corporate development officer for the University of Chicago. Nancy has always been an active community volunteer, serving many arts organizations in the Detroit area, including Cranbrook Academy of Art, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Detroit Artists Market.  She currently is a full-time resident of the Desert and has served on the Rancho Mirage Library Foundation, is a Founder of the Palm Springs Architectural and Design Museum, and is active in the McCallum Muses and the Coachella Valley Repertory Theater.

Michael V. Smith

Founding Board

Vice President

Donna R. Martin                    Founding Board 


Carrie Brookshire      Secretary

Joanne R. Mintz
Founding Board Member, Vice President

Susan K. (Suz) Hunt

Board of Directors

Michael Smith had a long tenure in trust and banking services with The Northern Trust Bank culminating his career as Regional President for the mid-California area.  He has a Master's Degree in Supervision of Administration and a B.A. In Education.  While having lived in the desert communities for over 20 years, he has served on numerous not-for-profit charitable boards including The McCallum Theatre, the Palm Springs Art Museum, and the College Of The Desert Foundation.  Michael is married, has two adult children, and one very spoiled granddaughter.

Donna Reed Martin enjoys being the Treasurer of LSD.  Having been a member of the Advisory Board for Desert Literary Society, she very much wanted to see a similar organization continue its tradition, so became a Founding Sponsor of LSD.  She is the office administrator of her husband's law firm, and enjoys volunteering in this wonderful desert.  Former board memberships include The Muses of the McCallumTheatre, past chairman of the Junior League Sustainers, La Quinta Arts Foundation, and Palm Desert High School PTO.  She loves tennis and singing, having sung first with the Pipers and then with Vox Feminae throughout Tuscany, including the mass at St. Peter's high altar in Rome!

Carrie is a native Californian, born and educated in Long Beach at Cal State's College of Commerce. Her professional career has been varied, working for Hooker Chemical and Citizens Utilities in Stamford, Connecticut and for the Purex Corporation in Lakewood, California. She also worked as a real estate professional in Long Beach.  Her volunteer career is extensive, serving on the Board of the East Texas Food Bank, the City of Long Beach Public Corporation for the Arts, and the Foundation Board of the Long Beach Unified Schools.  She was President of the Long Beach Civic Light Opera and is currently active in the USC Trojan League and the McCallum Muses.

A native New Yorker, Joanne was educated in Brooklyn Public Schools venturing to Ohio for her graduate studies. During her professional career she was a Psychologist for delinquent girls, Executive Vice President of Weight Watchers of Northern California and Greater Los Angeles, Administrator at Children's Health Council at Stanford, and owned and operated Antique Stores.  In 2000 Joanne and her husband, Myron, relocated to the desert where they have been major supporters of McCallum Theater, Eisenhower Hospital,  College of the Desert, First Tee, Well in the Desert,  City of Hope, and Hadassah Hospital.  A life long lover of books Joanne co- founded the Santa Rosa Readers  in 2001.

Suz Hunt is a dynamic community volunteer and retired president of Woodruff-Sawyer & Co., one of the country's largest privately held insurance brokerage and consulting firms. It is headquartered in San Francisco and while working there she was recognized for three years as one of the Bay Area's Most Influential Women. Retired now, in the Coachella Valley, she has served as President of ACT for MS and is currently Chairman of their Strategic Planning Committee and Co-chair of their annual Christmas Tree Lane event. Suz is VP of the Waring Piano Competition Board and active at the McCallum Theatre, Living Desert, and World Affairs Council of the Desert.


Joe Basak

Finance Administration

Joe Basak currently serves as CFO for the Coachella Valley Repertory and is Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Pegasus Therapeutic Riding.  Before relocating to Rancho Mirage from Long Islad, New York, Joe was the Manager of Financial Reporting for Volt information sciences where he prepared SEC filings, quarterly and annual reports (10Qs and 10Ks).  He started his career as the Accounting Manager for CBS News in NYC.  Joe holds a degree in Finance from Baruch College, and studied international money and banking at the University of Madrid in Spain. He returned to Baruch for his Masters at the Zicklin School of Business.

Tracey Essex

Membership Services

Tracey serves as Executive Director at Coachella Valley Repertory and oversees the operations of the regional performing arts theatre. She led the successful fundraising strategy which ensured the organization's viability during the pandemic and is currently working with the board and volunteers to position the theatre for continued growth and success.  She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin and is working towards the completion of her M.B.A degree. Tracey writes for several sports publications covering tennis and gymnastics and serves as a consultant specializing in new business endeavors and sales.

Marge Dodge

Public Relations

Marge Dodge is a member of the Literary Society of the Desert Advisory Board. Her passions are education, literacy and the arts, and serves on four local non-profit boards promoting those areas of interest. She belongs to two book discussion groups and is a guest reporter for the Desert Sun.

Malinda Gilchrist

Student Programs

Malinda was an educator, teacher and mentor for 28 years in the Torrance, California Unified School District and received the California Education Honorary Service Award for exceptional and dedicated service. She sponsored the Soroptomist International Mira Costa H.S. "S" Service Club (Manhattan Beach) for over ten years before moving to Palm Desert. The "S" Club is a youth service organization of over 100 girls and she received the city of Manhattan Beach's Recreation and Youth Service Award for her dedication for the project. She currently supports the McCallum Muses and the Boys ad Girls Club of the Coachella Valley. Malinda is an avid golfer and served on the Monterey Country Club Ladies Golf Association Board for four years.



Jane Arthur

Rosemarie Buntrock

Nancy Cunningham *

Barbara Fremont
Mrs. Richard Garber

Gretchen Heuring *

Sis Jackson *

Li-Anne Mannix

Donna Martin *
Joanne Mintz

Annette Smith

Sally St. John
Carlyn Stonehill

Jean B. Viereck *



Sheila Bailin
Marge Barry

Joyce Beaupre

Nancy Benson

Lynda Biggs
Marlene Bilsky
Paula Bronson
Carrie Brookshire
Ellen Burns
Jackie Coakley
Kathleen Delaney
Nancy Fraiman
Joy Goldstein

Jane Graham

Peggy Greenbaum

Toni Hafey

Lola Hagadone
Nan Harman
Nancy Herman
Bobbie Herrell
Helene Hixon
Carole Haes Landon
Mikki Lewis
Diane Maxwell

Gigi McMillan
Judy Metz
Birgit Moller               Darlene Mour                   Fran Muir                        
Anne Newman

                                              Mary Pasquesi
Tim Radigan-Brophy           Julie Rescigno
Suzi Richards                       Elise Sacks                        
Gloria Scoby

Beth Shaw

David Shaw

Michael Smith
Barbara Sylvor-Marks
Alix Truax

January Ward

Linda Weakley
JoAnn Wellner
David Wilson                        Jane Woolley


Jackie Coakley

Nancy Crandall

Suzanne Feder

Lynda Feiwell

Cora Ginsberg
Inga Golay

Lola Hagadone
Karen Heiferman
Libby Hoffman

Suz Hunt

Loreen Jacobson

Ruth Kaufman

Marilyn Leven

Tamara Mattison

Judy Mayer

Betsy Michel

Dianne Nilsen

Robin Nugent

Mary Lynn Rose

Sherry Schor


Lynn Armstrong
Laura Bellows
Candy Clevenger

Carol Crouse
Marge Dodge
Sally Douglas

Cheryl Duryea
Barbara Foster Monachino

Malinda Gilchrist

Jan Gordon

Lola Hagadone
Sharon Kelsch

Donivee Nash

Rona Press

Barbara Spencer                          Marty Statin

© 2017 Literary Society of the Desert

Literary Society of the Desert is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Go to top of page

P.O. Box 10121
Palm Desert, CA 92255
(760) 861-1006

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software