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.

 - expandKerry Berman
Kerry Berman

Kerry is a retired real estate broker and mortgage banker. He moved to Palm Springs in 1973 after serving in the Marines and Vietnam as a tunnel rat. Playing tennis every day lost its luster and a friend mentioned the tour business. Now 10 years later, Kerry is considered one of the most knowledgeable certified interpretive guides in the desert. He teaches geology for the Living Desert University, is a hike leader for Friends of the Desert Mountains, and takes seniors and students on tours throughout the valley, in addition to giving private tours.

 - 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.

 - expandRita Enders

Rita completed her BA and MA at San Diego State University. She has taught multiple computer classes and computer programs for local students, Elderhostel students, and on board the MV Explorer as part of the Semester at Sea Shipboard Experience in 2003. Rita will be returning to Semester at Sea this fall as assistant executive dean. She has an extensive international travel background, including sailing around the world five times. For thirty years, Rita has resided in Palm Desert, except when she’s traveling the world or enjoying her northern lake home.

 - 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.

 - expandStewart Fleishman
Stewer Fleishman

Dr. Fleishman is the author of Learn to Live Through Cancer: What You Need to Know and Do. He surveys cancer centers for accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and served as the associate chief medical officer and ethics committee chair of Continuum Hospice Care. Dr. Fleishman was among the first group of physicians board certified in hospice and palliative medicine, and has devoted his career to active symptom management for cancer patients. Dr. Fleishman also volunteers at the Coachella Valley Volunteers in Indio, providing primary care to the under-insured. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Fleishman taught in the New York City public schools.

 - expandFrank Furino
Frank Furino

Frank brings 25 years of professional Hollywood experience to his workshop. His background includes writer/producer credits for major hit shows including Dynasty, Dallas, General Hospital, Flamingo Road, Falcon Crest, New Years Rockin' Eve, and more. He also spent ten years as staff director with ABC News covering political conventions, space launches and major news events. For several years, Frank taught a creative writing workshop at UCLA. He is also a successful playwright and is working on his first novel.

 - expandThomas Harris
Tom Harris

Tom was president of Golin/Harris Communications, one of the world’s largest international public relations firms. In 2000, he was awarded the Gold Anvil Award, the highest individual recognition presented by the Public Relations Society of America, and is the author of The World According To Me: The Best of the First 25 Years of the Thomas L. Harris Viewsletter, published in 2016. Harris was an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and has taught Osher courses on the Great American Songbook for years. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a master’s degree in communication from The University of Chicago.

 - expandMike Herbst
Mike Herbst

Mike grew up in Dresden, Budapest and Prague. He developed an early interest in cinema and began film studies in Berlin, where he supported himself writing film reviews. While in Berlin, Mike also started a career in international management with Lufthansa airlines, which later brought him to San Francisco. Mr. Herbst was involved in starting the International Film Festival in Egypt, and was later involved with the British Film Institute in London. He draws upon his extensive personal film collection for this Osher course.

 - expandJane L. Johnson

Jane taught economics and statistics for 15 years prior to her retirement. Her extensive managerial and professional experience includes over 30 years with organizations as diverse as H&R Block, several colleges and universities, and state and federal government. She takes great delight in analyzing and explaining technical, tax, economic, financial, public policy, and managerial concepts to diverse audiences. Her previous Osher courses have included economics and the Federal Reserve System.

 - 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.

 - expandPaul S. Marchand

Born and raised in Los Angeles' Hollywood Hills, Paul Marchand was a Coachella Valley visitor and resident for more than a decade before being elected in 2002 to the first of two terms on the Cathedral City Council. Since 2010, Paul has taught a number of courses for the Osher Institute at CSUSB’s Palm Desert Campus. Paul earned his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and his law degree from the Valparaiso University School of Law. He has been a licensed attorney since 1989.

 - 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.

 - expandArlette Poland

Dr. Poland is a retired lawyer turned theologian and professor. She holds a BS in political science from UC Berkeley, an MA in religion from Claremont School of Theology, a juris doctor from San Francisco Law School, and a PhD from Claremont Graduate University. Arlette has been teaching at the college level for 15 years and lecturing with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute since 2005. Her areas of specialty include Buddhism, Judaism, science and religion, and world religions.

 - 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.

 - expandJack Poster

Dr. Poster earned both bachelor of arts and bachelor of music education degrees from the University of Redlands, as well as a master of music degree. He then took his doctorate at Claremont Graduate University. He created the course on the History of Rock & Roll, and has been teaching the course in area high schools and colleges for over 17 years. Jack is now retired and is an international performing musician and band leader.

 - expandShawn Richcreek

Shawn is the senior wine educator and store director for Total Wine & More in Palm Desert. Previously, he was the director of training and development for Bevmo, and also was a wine buyer for Cost Plus World Market. Shawn has worked on the retail side of the wine and spirits business in Southern California for over twenty years. He is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of spirits. When he is not working or learning about wine, Shawn enjoys losing at basketball to his two teenage sons.

 - expandGary Smaby
Gary Smaby

For over forty years, Gary Smaby's artistic eye has peered through a camera lens. His acclaimed body of work has been featured on gallery walls and album jackets. He has become internationally known and an oft-quoted observer on the leading edge of technology; serving as an advisor to premier research institutions like IBM's TJ Watson Lab and AT&T's Bell Labs and guest lecturer at NASA's Langley Research Center. Since 2009, he's been a visiting scholar/artist at UCSD and UCSB; most recently at UCSB's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. Smaby is a cum laude graduate of St. Olaf College with majors in East Asian studies and art.

 - 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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