BOARD OF DIRECTORS
James Burk, Chairman of the Board
James is a senior partner of the law firm of Burk Law Firm P.C. (DC), and has been in the private practice of law for over 40 years. He specializes in assisting emerging companies in their initial stages of organization and then growing with the companies through the public offering stage.
Mr. Burk began his career in 1969 as an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission investigating consumer protection matters. He then returned to his hometown of San Antonio, Texas where he served as Senior Law Clerk to the Chief Judge of United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. After completing his District Court clerkship, he was appointed Attorney-Advisor to a judge on the U.S. Tax Court in Washington, D.C
He has been a senior partner in law firms located in New York and Washington D.C. and his practice is national in scope. The firm is located in Washington, DC
His practice includes general business matters including corporations, contracts, mergers, acquisitions, venture capital financings, tax, securities and non-profit law. He has also assisted companies in securing seed and mezzanine funding for emerging companies. He has sat on the board of directors of several non-profit companies including: Institute of Mentalphysics where is he is currently Chairman of the Board and previously on the Boards of Americans For Health Freedom Foundation and the Washington Studio School.
He is the author of How to Start a Business in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and Financing Your Small Business published by Sphinx Legal, a division of Sourcebooks, Inc. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin Law School and is a member of the bars of the District of Columbia and Texas (inactive).
Paul Andrews, Vice-Chair
Following a near death experience in 1976 Paul Andrews became involved in the metaphysical field, studying first with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and then with Bob Monroe of Monroe Institute.
In 1984 he founded the Threshold company which went on the own and manage the Whole Life Expo and Whole Life Times Magazine. Paul ran Whole Life from 1986 through 1997. In 2002, along with Julie Kline, he produced the Health Freedom Expo from 2002-2012. He currently co-produces “Contact In the Desert” which is going on it’s sixth year. Paul Has been involved with The Institute Of Mentalphysics since 1989 and on the Board since 1990.
H. Thomas Winn, Director/Treasurer
Tom was introduced to Joshua Tree Retreat Center in the Mid 80’s and has served on the Board of Directors since 1993 and he is also Treasurer.
Tom is Co-Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Urban Seed, Inc., providing engineering solutions for humanity. Urban Seed’s proprietary systems allow us to grow nutrient-dense produce locally giving every community the opportunity for fresh food.
Tom is also a Co-Founder and Director of Urban Seed Foundation which is committed to ending food deserts and creating a sustainable food model with at risk communities.
Over the last 40 years Tom has been involved in creating, financing and managing over a dozen corporations and 100+ partnerships. He has served as the President of Aaminex Capital for over 30 years and been involved in over $1 billion in capital formation in industries such as agribusiness, restaurants, hotel/casinos, real estate, film, renewable energy and mining. He founded and served as the President/CEO of Nevada Gold & Casinos (“UWN”) from 1994 to 2006, during which time the company was listed on the American Stock Exchange, listed in the Russell 3000 Index and was number 54 of Fortunes 100 fastest growing small companies.
Gerard (Jerry) was born in Palm Springs and grew up in Pioneertown where his parents owned and operated The Red Dog Saloon. “Uncle Pappy” of the famed Pappy & Harriett’s was the house band at the time. Pioneertown was named after the Sons of the Pioneer and Jerry’s Cousin Rusty is one of the original members along with Roy Rodgers.
Jerry is a 3rd degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do World TKD Federation and taught for over a decade. He is president of Focus1Hospitality and has multiple corporate and independent restaurant developments under his influence. Of note locally is his tenure of 12 years as Chief Operating Officer of the Fisherman’s Market & Grill chain of restaurants, Shanghai Reds oyster bar, and The Fisherman’s Landing at the JW Marriott’s Desert Springs Resort & Spa.
Jerry was elected to a 6 year term to the executive board of the Palm Springs Merchants Association where he created the City Map guide to PS and later he was elected executive board director for The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce & Chairman of Government Affairs, where he helped launch the Palm Springs City Guide Magazine. He was awarded The Presidents Award from the Mayor, Council and Chamber for his dedication and effectiveness in turning around the Chamber financially and helping create and support the catalysts that began the new renaissance and economic surge that Palm Springs is experiencing making it a world class vacation destination. Jerry also received the Business Leader of the Year award for the launching and promoting of multiple valley wide events such as Taste of Palm Springs, Palm Springs Business Expo, Palm Springs Comicon, La Quinta Arts Festival, Splash House at Hacienda, Style & Fashion Week, Modernism Week’s Blue Hawaii to benefit Find Food Bank & Meals on Wheels and Children’s Variety of the Desert which helps to purchase bicycles, clothing and school supplies for underprivileged children to name a few.
Jerry’s mother and spiritual mentor studied Mentalphysics and taught Yoga at the Institute in 1974. Later she was initiated into Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) a philosophical organization based on the spiritual teachings of all religions, dedicated to a process of inner development under the guidance of a spiritual teacher. Radha Soami is a Hindi expression meaning ‘Lord of the Soul’ in English. The Institute (JTRC) throughout the years would regularly provide venue for the Satsangs Jerry attended with his Mother. Satsang means ‘association with Truth’ and describes a group that seeks truth.
“It is humbling and an honor to be called to serve on this amazing Board and to help in the noble effort to restore and preserve the treasured architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright & Son and to provide an enduring, place of learning, appreciation of the arts and nature as nourishment for the mind, body and soul as we continue exploration into the infinite human potential for generations to come.”
Founder of GrecoDecor is a graduate of UCLA in Industrial Design. Keith is a set and production manager for films, events, performance art and festivals. His design work covers multiple environmental settings, and staged events over the years including parts of Burning Man and the following list: Hunger Games, SALT Premiere, Paramount Party, Golden Globe Party, Stranger than Fiction, Coachella 2014, Cirque Du Soleil – IRIS, Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, Acabar Restaurant, Disney E3 Booth, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Lacoste, City of Hope, Hunter Thompson – along with building several restaurants he owns.
The owner of Melissa Morgan Fine Art in Palm Desert, CA, is a gallerist, private art consultant and advisor. The gallery represents contemporary 2D, 3D and New Media artists both nationally, internationally and evolved “Modern Masters Fine Art.” The gallery in the upscale El Paseo Shopping District, was opened by Melissa and her late husband in 2002. Her galleries have hosted dozens of fundraising events for nonprofit and Educational organizations over the years including Girl Friend Factor, Visiting Nurses Association, Coachella Valley Health Care Initiative and many more. The gallery hosts an annual exhibition for the Idyllwild Arts Academy and has hosted student exhibitions for College of the Desert. Melissa stays active in many local organizations such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, Desert Aids Project, Digicom and other charitable organizations. She was on the committee for Behind a Miracle, raising over 6 million dollars in 9 years to help combat breast cancer within the Coachella Valley and she was on the Palm Desert Strategic Planning Committee.
Terry Taylor-Castillo, Executive Director
Terry Taylor-Castillo (aka Terry Lynn Taylor) moved to Joshua Tree in 2014 with her husband Rolo Castillo and opened Taylor Junction art gallery and event space. After reconnecting with friends from the metaphysical world she joined the board of directors of the Institute of Mentalphysics /Joshua Tree Retreat Center, eventually stepping off the board to become the Director.
In her other lives, she was the executive director of a non-profit community art gallery in Pomona, author of several spiritual books on Angel Consciousness, and worked with youth during the 80’s and 90’s as a teacher and human relations facilitator.
From 2009 to 2013 she was president of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 30 in Pomona and District 18 community chair, advocating and raising funds for military families and veterans. Her commitment to this work led to her joining the board of Mil-Tree a local non-profit established to bring together veterans, active-duty military, and civilians through communication and art
Debbie Willey, Executive Retreat Manager
Debbie has worked for the Institute of Mentalphysics for 23 years. She is invaluable to the day to day operations and prosperity of the retreat center.
John Aguirre, Consulting CFO
John is currently CFO of Urban Seed, Inc. a startup company focused on the development of aeroponic growing technology for fruits and vegetables. With over 35 years in various financial management positions, he previously served as Principal Consultant at Cornerstone Management Services. He has also served as COO/CFO of the largest talent agency in the southeastern U.S. with clients in the print, ﬁlm, fashion, and sports entertainment industries. Prior experience also includes roles as CFO, Controller, Division Controller, and Senior Financial Analyst at various community and regional financial institutions. John earned his B.S. of Finance from Louisiana State University.
Cathie Hartnett, Executive Management Consultant
Cathie is an entrepreneur and nonprofit executive management consultant in strategic planning, leadership transition and philanthropy for social change organizations, family and corporate foundations. After leading a number of non-profits, she founded a company in Washington, DC that for 15 years managed start up and turn around non -profit organizations and worked for many congressional and senate campaigns.
After leaving DC she continued to consult and her clients now include: Sophie’s Voice Foundation, Barneys New York Foundation, LLL Foundation, National Youth Recovery Foundation, and Serve Minnesota (Governor’s Commission for AmeriCorps).
She currently serves on the board of The MS Foundation, Joshua Tree Retreat Center, The BETTY Effect, The National Youth Recovery Foundation, Birds Nest Foundation and COPE Center. She serves as an advisor to Emory University’s Center for Spina Bifida Research and Public Policy.
In addition to her consulting work she has run successfully for public office, hosted two commercial radio talk shows for Hubbard Broadcasting in the Twin Cities for over 10 years and provided political commentary for the local ABC affiliate. She speaks to groups about how to have a civil discourse about politics.
Hartnett considers herself a midwesterner with southern roots and an eastern edge. She is passionate and active with many causes lives with her husband, John Monto, an artist in Montclair, NJ with whom she raised two stepsons who no longer live with them.