Celebrating 50 Years of Adventure
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild.

Press Room



Contact: Erin Scott
Sr. Marketing and Public Relations Manager
760-346-5694 x.2610

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is proud to announce the appointment of Bill Appel as Chairman of the Board, and four new Board of Trustees: Craig McCollam, Jaishri Mehta, Nancy Stegehuis, and Brian Tobey.

“The Board of Trustees plays an integral role in shaping The Living Desert’s future and finances. It’s a true privilege to welcome Mr. Appel as chairman and our impressive four new board members,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert. “Each is dedicated to The Living Desert’s mission and their charitable work in this community is admirable.”

A valued and experienced leader, Appel initially joined The Living Desert Board of Trustees as treasurer in 2014 and served as Chairman of the Finance Committee and Investment Committee. He also served on the Endowment Campaign Committee and was elected as a member of the Compensation Committee in 2015, Construction Sub-committee in 2016, and the Nominating Committee in 2017.

Appel succeeds outgoing chairman Larry Spicer, who served for the two past years. Spicer, who has been an active supporter of The Living Desert since 1983, will continue to work with and advise the zoo as a board member and Treasurer.

Appel is a retired business owner. For nearly 50 years he was a distributor of POS software, providing hardware and support services to the hospitality and retail marketplaces. He served as Vice President and Treasurer for a City of Hope Chapter in Los Angeles, President of the First Tee of the Coachella Valley Advisory Board, Treasurer of the Desert Recreation Foundation Board of Directors, while holding various board positions and serving on several committees with Mountain View Country Club in La Quinta. He and his wife reside in Indian Wells.

McCollam retired in 2014 after serving as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Aurora Networks. His charitable work predominately focuses on curing cancer and helping underprivileged children.

Mehta is a professor of computer information systems at Mt. SAC, a shareholder with El Paseo Jewelers and an investor/partner in Summit Hospitality Group. She is actively involved in the community with numerous charitable organizations including McCallum Theatre Muses and Desert Symphony.

Stegehuis joins the board after serving on several volunteer committees including multiple years for the Zoobilee Gala! and as co-chair in 2018, plus the McCallum Theater’s Muses Gala fundraiser. She currently serves as Director of Sales and Marketing for Millennium Community Management.

Tobey is a retired corporate vice president of the Manufacturing & Supply Chain organization at Microsoft and currently is an active board member of The Coachella Valley Boys and Girls club.

About The Living Desert:
The Living Desert is an AZA-accredited zoo and gardens that is dedicated to conservation and education. It is a family-friendly place to explore nature and create meaningful experiences for guests that are remembered for a lifetime.
For more information: (760) 346-5694 or visit The Living Desert is located at: 47900 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert, CA 92260.