Meet Our Instructors

The quality of our Osher instructors is a hallmark of our program. Many are current or retired professors, and several are accomplished professionals who are tops in their field. This powerful combination of academics and industry experts gives you a learning experience that's second to none in the Coachella Valley.

Kevin Sweeney

quotations The Osher program is packed with outstanding and passionate instructors!quotations

Ray Smythe
Osher member since 2013

 - expandBonnie Barkley

Bonnie is a successful business woman, caterer, and restaurant owner. After early retirement from the corporate world, Bonnie and her husband Tom started Cello’s American Bistro as a second career, and it was so successful that they later opened a second restaurant, Cello’s Pantry, in Rancho Mirage. Cello’s has earned numerous awards by the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce and Palm Springs Life magazine. In 2012, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year by the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce.

 - expandTammy Bleck

Tammy has been a self-employed entrepreneur since 1976, with several start-ups to her credit. She is a seasoned professional in the field of monetizing social media, blogs, social media marketing and speaking venues to build business and generate income. An established authority on how blogs and social media can build your business, create your brand, and find your tribe, Tammy has toured, spoken, taught and conducted workshops over the past 30 years. In addition to being a notable speaker, she is an accomplished writer, columnist, Huffington Post and Jewish Journal contributor, and a small business consultant.

 - expandTom Davis

Mr. Davis is the chief planning and development officer for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs. Prior to working for the Tribe, Mr. Davis spent 14 years as a partner in two consulting firms serving cities, counties and real estate development companies. Mr. Davis received his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture at California State Polytechnic University. He has completed postgraduate coursework in real estate development and received his MA in education from Cal State San Bernardino.

 - expandBernard (Butch) Epps
Bernard (Butch) Epps

Butch received his MFA degree from the UCLA Department of Film and Television’s Independent Producers Program where he focused on story development and working with screenwriters. He served as the academic liaison to the high-profile professional faculty, studio heads, development executives, and others. Since stepping away from the day-to-day rigors of the film industry, Butch has been teaching film appreciation courses for older adults in the Coachella Valley, while writing a book on Orson Welles’ Mercury Production of Citizen Kane.

 - expandThomas B. Jones

Dr. Jones is a retired professor of U.S. history. He has over 40 years of experience in higher education as a history professor, academic administrator, faculty development director and educational consultant. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in history and received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for graduate study at Cornell University (PhD in U.S. history). He has taught on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His publications include books and articles on U.S. history, college teaching, liberal education and a novel.

 - expandDale Knorr
Dale Knorr

Dale received his BA degree in radio/television/film from Temple University’s School of Communication and Theater. His career in motion picture and television production spanned 35 years, where he worked in both the public and private sectors, as well as many network and independent freelance projects. Most recently, Dale was a member of the judging panel at the 2015 American Documentary Film Festival.

 - expandMichael McDonald
Michael McDonald

Dr. McDonald attended San Diego State University and the University of Hawaii, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1995. He reads Greek and is a specialist in Plato and Greek philosophy and drama. Michael has broad interests and has taught classes at CSUSB on Thomas Jefferson and early American history. At Prescott College in Arizona, he taught Western and Chinese philosophy, emphasizing the Chinese Book of Changes. Dr. McDonald is a great believer in lifelong learning and has taken over 60 college-level courses in the last ten years.

 - expandBurton Popkoff

Mr. Popkoff is an attorney and certified public accountant (retired) with over fifty years of professional experience in Southern California. He is certified as a specialist in probate, estate planning, and trust law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Popkoff earned a BS in business administration (accounting) from UCLA and his JD from Southwestern University School of Law. He has been a certified public accountant since 1965 and has been recognized as one of the best lawyers in the area by Inland Empire Magazine. Mr. Popkoff lives and practices in Palm Desert.

 - expandVinny Stoppia

Vinny is a native of New York and worked for 23 years at United Nations Headquarters observing the political luminaries of the Cold War Era. For more than 50 years, he gobbled up anything about eighteenth century France; in particular, the singular Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. His narrative about the life of this lightning rod monarch, The Austrian Woman, is the culmination of a lifelong passion to retell her story. Vinny has lived in Palm Springs since 1993 and volunteers with a number of local organizations.

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