ABOUT US

Board Members

THOMI CLINTON
CEO

Thomi Clinton began working in human rights issues in 1988 and has advocated for full LGBT equality since that time. She is the Chief Executive Officer of the Transgender Health and Wellness Center in Cathedral City, CA which opened in May 2018 to provide services for the Inland Empire Transgender, Intersex and Gender Diverse Community. 

 

She serves on the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast Committee raising funds for safe schools. She also serves on the Cathedral City LGBT Days Committee, the Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil Committee and Trans Pride Committee. Thomi also sits on Congressman Ruiz’s LGBT Outreach Committee and as an adviser for the Inland Empire Health Plan Transgender Division. Thomi collaborates and works with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transforming California, Equality California, Riverside County Public Health, TruEvolution, Desert AIDS Project and the Transgender Law Center.  She is the founder of the Raina Chessman Fund to assist the Coachella Valley Transgender Community with funds during life emergencies. She facilitated transgender sensitivity training for Coachella Valley Police and Sheriffs with Mattie Lynden. She has served on the National Corrections Committee to create the Prison Rape Elimination Act standards to protect LGBT inmates from sexual assault and has worked on numerous reports before Congress on a wide variety of LGBT issues. 

 

Thomi Clinton was nationally recognized by LAMBDA as one of 2015’s Trans 100 because of her work within the Inland Empire. She volunteered as a consultant for the Desert AIDS Project, Desert Regional Medical Center, Roy’s Desert Resource Center, Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, The Sanctuary of the Desert, Borrego Health Care Foundation, Palm Springs Greater Pride, Desert Best Friends Closet, Palm Springs Diversity Film Festival, and Eisenhower Medical Center. On her birthday in 2015, she was given the key to the city of Palm Springs to recognize her service to the Valley’s residents. In 2016, she received the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission Service of Excellence Award and was named one of 2016’s most influential women in the Coachella Valley by the Desert Sun. In October of 2018, she was requested by Israel to speak on transgender issues to improve their quality of life. Also, in this month she began a medical fellowship with American Doctors to provide Transgender Health Education to Pakistani Doctors to improve the quality of life of the Pakistani Transgender Community. In October of 2018, the Transgender Health and Wellness Center was given the Visibility Award by the Los Angeles Blade. She also was invited by the Wider Bridge program to learn and assist the Transgender Diverse community in Israel in October of 2018. She was awarded the 2019 POZ National Leadership Award and is a graduate of the 2020 Victory Fund Institute Leadership Forum.

BRUCE BAUER
BOARD MEMBER

Bruce Bauer is Of Counsel with Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney LLP, practicing in the areas of civil and business litigation, governmental relations, municipal and public agency law. Mr. Bauer works from the firm’s offices in Palm Springs and Costa Mesa.

Mr. Bauer achieved an AV-Preeminent (peer) rating since the year 2000. He has substantial civil litigation and transactional experience including in the areas of banking, employment, real estate, tort and  business law. He has successfully conducted numerous federal and state bench and jury trials. He also served as a panelist for the Bankers’ Compliance Group in which he delivered statewide seminar presentations on topics such as negotiable instruments, employment, collections, and banking related operational issues.

 

Mr. Bauer handles all aspects of litigation including appeals. He has numerous published decisions in state and federal courts: Malkoskie v. Option One Mtg. Corp., 188 Cal. App. 4th 968 (Cal. Ct. App. 2010); Aceves v. U.S. Bank N.A., 192 Cal. App. 4th 218 (Cal. Ct. App. 2011); Keen v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., 664 F. Supp. 2d 1086 (E.D. Cal. 2009); Blanco v. Am. Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc., 2009 WL 4674904 (E.D. Cal. 2009); and Gardner v. American Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc., 691 F. Supp. 2d 1192 (E.D. Cal. 2010), among others.

He is active in LGBTQ issues and is a member of Lambda Legal Defense Fund, an ADEM Delegate to State Democratic Convention and is a recipient of the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Legal Service.

SUE BURNSIDE
BOARD MEMBER

Sue is a Palm Springs native and a national grassroots political consultant She is in the EQCA Board and is Co-chair of the Victory Fund campaign board. Her focus has been electing LGBTQ candidates to office.  During COVID Sue realized the need in the Valley, making and delivering soup to senior and sick people, donating weekly to The Center food bank and volunteering at Martha's Village and Kitchen. Locally Sue is a donor to DAP Health Partners for life, The Center's Ocotillo Club, Sanctuary PS, The L-Fund and Transgender Health and Wellness Center and HER HRC.

ASHLEY A. DONDE
BOARD MEMBER

Ashley Donde is Senior Regional Manager for the Coachella Valley and High Desert for USA Shade and Fabric Structures, a specialty construction company. Ashley has 30 years of experience in the industry and has been fortunate enough to work in many different departments with the same company throughout his career from installations, manufacturing, and operations to design, sales and marketing as well as senior management. Over the past two years, his sibling, came out as transgender and identifies as non-binary. They have gone through so much and we are grateful that they have a loving and accepting support system. There are so many transgender people out there that are not as lucky to have the support they need. He is passionate in supporting the transgender community as a whole and look forward to serving the Transgender Health and Wellness Center where he can.

MICHAEL E. GAGE
BOARD MEMBER

Michael Gage, is 34 years old and originally from Kingston, NY. In 2012, he received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture Degree from Roger Williams University located in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Since then, he moved moved to California; currently residing in Palm Springs with his husband Dr. John W. Phillip and is an architect for the Department of Defense. In his spare time, Michael enjoys being with friends, doing outdoor activities and staying active with the local Palm Springs community.

JOHN KIRBY
BOARD MEMBER

John Kirby began his working life right out of high school as an infantry soldier in the United States Army, serving honorably from 1982–1991. He says he “was competing with an idea of manhood that [he] couldn’t put a face on.” He discharged from both the Army and the closet in December 1991 and moved to Long Beach, California to a large LGBTQ community where he struggled with alcoholism and methamphetamine abuse leading him into homelessness on Christmas Eve of 1994. Amidst the chaos of the life of a homeless addict he contracted HIV, which ultimately saved his life. It was the grant funding available to those living with HIV that paid for all the social, behavioral, and medical services he needed to turn his life around.

 

John began his social service career as a volunteer HIV Testing Counselor shortly after discharging from residential substance abuse treatment in 1995. His personal and professional life have seen him working at the crux of substance abuse, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, medical care for the indigent, and LGBT social justice. He has served as a substance abuse intake counselor, a research assistant on projects related to HIV prevention among active substance users and sex workers, a team member developing a pilot project addressing secondary HIV prevention with active substance users, director of programs for a small LGBT center in Los Angeles County, a methadone clinic administrator, and an outpatient substance abuse clinic manager before moving into executive level program and fund development.

 

His work over the past 15 years has been primarily in program and fund development, specifically in the behavioral health field – as a Director of Development for two organizations, and as a private consultant for several organizations since 2009. Beginning his work in the field of HIV/AIDS in the mid-90s, Mr. Kirby was immediately aware of the urgent need to effectively integrate medical and behavioral health in the effort to reduce the spread of HIV, and to keep his clients alive until medical research caught up to the reality of the disease. Mr. Kirby is a strong believer in not reinventing the wheel, and therefore designs new programs and intervention approaches within a collaborative, integrated framework often capitalizing on the strengths of community partners in seeking the most expedient approach to serving the needs of the community. His approach has culminated in over $100 million in total grant funding serving the needs of the most marginalized populations in Los Angeles County.

 

2012 saw the opportunity to design an HIV and substance abuse prevention and treatment program for young Black and Latinx men-who-have-sex-with-men regardless of how they identify sexually; and he included within the service population transgender men and women regardless of sex assigned at birth or current presentation. His vision was to “reach the unreachable” – the unreachable being those Black and Latinx and transgender folks who the system had failed to consider in their engagement and program design efforts since the beginning of the HIV pandemic. The program was purposely designed for the clients to be served to inform the evolution of the program in perpetuity. This program is still going and has reached over 1,600 individuals who report never having accessed any LGBTQ or HIV-related service in their lifetime.

SIR ROB MORRISON
BOARD MEMBER

Sir Rob Morrison was an international model from 1980-1988 for Calvin Kline and Run Way. He served for both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton as their senior advisor of protocol. He is senior protocol officer for the chairman for the Royal Society of St. George and one of the founders of the United Nations of the Coachella Valley. He volunteered with the National Institute of Health to improve the quality of health for HIV positive children and cancer. He was a volunteer and fundraiser for Grandma's House, which provided services to abused mothers and children living with HIV. in 2010 he was knighted as Sir Rob Morrison GCMG, RSSG, KGC. He is also a former member of the Palm Springs Human Rights Fundraising Committee and presently on the advisory board for The L-Fund. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Transgender Health and Wellness Center.