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.
Each season, at each of our five luncheon programs LSD hosts two tables of students from local high schools or colleges and present them the opportunity for small group conversation with our Guest Author. We also provide annual special project grants to every public library in the Coachella Valley. These programs are facilitated through the generosity of our Benefactors, Patrons and Sponsors.
The Literary Society of the Desert is managed by its dedicated volunteer Boards with professional services contracted for fiscal accountability, tax preparation and filing.
Nancy D. Cunningham
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.
Joanne R. Mintz
Founding Board Member Vice President
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.
Susan K. (Suz) Hunt
Vice-President and Parliamentarian
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.
Myron Mintz Treasurer
Myron Mintz is a native New Yorker, raised in Wilmington, Delaware. A veteran of the United States Air Force and graduate of the California College of Podiatric Medicine, Dr. Mintz operated a private medical practice in Northern California for 25 years. He and his wife, Joanne, relocated to the desert in 2000 where have been active members of the community since their arrival. Myron served on the HOA Boards of PGA West and another La Quinta community prior to relocating to Rancho Mirage. He has an active interest in real estate and investing and is happy to bring that expertise to the LSD Board.
Michael V. Smith
Assistant Treasurer, Assistant Parliamentarian
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.
A "Midwesterner" by birth but a Desert dweller by choice! Tim has been a resident of the Coachella Valley since 1996.He originally joined “Desert Literary” when it was sponsored by Northern Trust and became a Founding Patron of the new LSD organization when it was founded in 2016. Tim is a active officer with the Soroptimist House of Hope, member of the Palm Springs Pet Cemetery Board and a member of the Board of DHS Renaissance Group. He collects Midwest artists and decorative glass. Tim lives in Palm Desert with his husband of 16 years, Kevin Parker.
Assistant Secretary, Library Program
Chris Metz, a Buffalo, NY native, has had a diverse career across the U.S. health care industry. She pioneered the growth of two innovative consumer technology companies and held senior executive positions at Anthem Blue Cross and The Travelers. At Mercer, Chris consulted with Fortune 500 companies. She also served on the Advisory Board of the Center of Health Care Management & Policy at UC Irvine’s Business School.
In San Francisco, Chris was on the Board of the Friends & Foundation of the Public Library. During her 16 years in the desert, she has been Secretary of the Mission Hills Employee Scholarship Fund Board, a member of the Western Art Council Board at the PSAM and currently is Treasurer of the Tools for Tomorrow Board. Chris has a B.A. from Niagara University and completed the PMD Executive Program at Harvard Business School. Chris is married to Michael Gennet and a proud aunt, step mom and grandmother.
Board Member, Liaison to Student Programs Coordinator
Lyn Chernis grew up in Boston and attended Emerson College where she majored in theater and later graduated from the New School in New York. She turned her passion for travel and teaching into a career by becoming an instructor at the Travel School of America, run by Garber Travel and in 1981, co-founded Copley Travel Services, ultimately employing 12 staffers.
Lyn has two children and enjoyed splitting her time between Ojai and Rancho Mirage with her husband Dr. Bob Morris until he passed away in 2018. Lyn was one of the founding members of the Ojai Playwrights Conference. Lyn is a devoted reader, served briefly on the board of the Rancho Mirage Library and formed a book club 17 years ago, which is still active today.
Board Member, Liaison to Volunteer Coordinator
Danielle is a second generation member of the Literary Society of the Desert. Retired from a corporate career as Regional & International Marketing Director for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Danielle is conversational in several European languages. She also has a residential real estate license. Danielle has chaired and served on the boards of numerous volunteer organizations for over thirty years, including educational, civic and philanthropic. In addition to a love of reading and her book club she plays duplicate bridge. Danielle loves all the desert has to offer: golf, hiking, pickleball and especially the programs and mission of the LSD.
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.
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 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.
With a background in marketing and fundraising, Jennie is a nonprofit professional with two decades of dedicated service in the Coachella Valley, where she has made an impact on organizations such as The Living Desert, Act For Multiple Sclerosis, Loving All Animals, and Living Free Animal Sanctuary. Outside of her professional life, she shares her love for travel with her husband, Paul, is an avid reader, and finds immense joy in pursuing her passion for photography.
* FOUNDING SPONSOR