James Burk
President Emeritus
Past President 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).

Glen Harris
President, Chairman of the Board

Glen was born and raised in the suburbs of NYC into a family that loved and valued the Arts, Music and Theatre, and graduated with a Bachelors Degree from New York University.

Soon after graduation, Glen moved to Los Angeles and began his 3 + decade career

in television production, including in business and legal affairs, physical production, marketing, talent coordinating, and finally, serving as a Creative Executive for numerous TV series, specials and reality shows. Concurrently, he spent years as a Talent Manager and a Public Relations Executive for both corporate entities and for many actors in the public spotlight.

He first learned the values of philanthropy and community service when he was a young child, when he would voluntarily go door to door collecting money for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.  With a firm commitment to being of service to others and to “giving back” to his communities, Glen has actively volunteered his time and efforts with numerous non-profits, charities, and political action groups throughout his entire adult life.  Glen is a passionate and fierce advocate for the arts, for civil and equal rights, and for protecting the earth and all it’s beautiful creatures.

Glen and his husband Tom moved full time to Joshua Tree in 2016, where they found their “Forever Home” (and the Joshua Tree Retreat Center).  Glen immersed himself in the Arts and Music Communities in the High Desert, and has dedicated his efforts to several local charities, community groups, and organizations.

Glen officially serves as the Morongo Basin/Hi-Desert Field Representative for Dawn Rowe, the Third District Supervisor of San Bernardino County.  He is also a “Cattle Baron” of the Friends of Pioneertown, is on the Citizens Advisory Council of the Joshua Basin Water District, and also currently sits on the Boards of Directors of The Morongo Basin Humane Society/Joshua Tree No Kill Shelter in Joshua Tree, and on the Desert Regional Tourism Agency in Yucca Valley. 

“Who would have thought that retirement would be so busy and so rewarding?”

Cheryl Bookout
Vice President

Cheryl Bookout is a filmmaker and artist residing in Joshua Tree, CA. She is Founder and Executive Director of The Chimaera Project, a nonprofit organization that champions women and nonbinary filmmakers. Her Joshua Tree community nonprofit work includes sitting on the Board of Directors for the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, FurstWurld Performing Arts and  Mil-Tree Veterans Project. Bookout is the past President of the Southern California Women’s Caucus for Art (2012 – 2016). As an individual artist, she is included in the California Women Artist Project archived at the University of Southern California and Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries, a project organized by Gloria Orenstein, Professor of Women in Literature and Art at USC. Cheryl has been a guest on numerous filmmaking and art panels throughout the U.S. Her filmmaking career includes directing, writing and producing the award-winning short documentary film INSIDE THE BEAUTY BUBBLE, producer of the award-winning short films GLORIA’S CALL and PURE; she is currently producing the feature-length documentary ACTING LIKE WOMEN and her short narrative film titled JUST A FRIEND is in post-production. In 2023 she will shoot a proof of concept for her award-winning sci-fi episodic screenplay, WOMEN OF STEEL. 

Gloria Ohland

Gloria is an advocate, writer and lobbyist, and moved to the desert at the beginning of COVID but continues to work remotely for a nonprofit named Move LA. Her expertise is communications, and she’s involved in issues related mostly to transportation, affordable housing, clean air, and climate change, working in LA, at the Capitol in Sacramento, and with Congress. She’s written and published a dozen books on these issues and worked on four successful ballot measures passed by LA County voters. Two are funding the build-out of LA’s transit system; the other two provide funding to help the homeless and build more affordable housing—together raising about $4 billion/year. Gloria spent her first 16 years in LA writing for the LA Weekly, a newspaper that was then more popular than the LA Times. She’s happy to now reside just a stone’s throw from the Joshua Tree Retreat Center.

Jerry Noonan
Interim Treasurer

Gerard (Jerry) 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.

He recently opened Sky High Pie, a popular new eatery in downtown Joshua Tree, serving artisanal pizza and craft beer.

“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.”

Paul Andrews
Board Member

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 its seventh year. Paul Has been involved with The Institute Of Mentalphysics since 1989 and on the Board since 1990.

Keith Greco
Board Member

Keith has bounced between his homes in Los Angeles & the Mojave Desert for the better part of four decades. Keith’s creation of “Experiential, Interactive & Immersive Events” began generations before these terms were a prevalent part of our global lexicon. His client list, to name a few, includes: Academy of Motion Pictures, Activision, AEG, Adidas, Apple, Coachella Music Festival, Disney, Goldenvoice, Lionsgate Pictures, Netflix, Nike, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Red Bull, SAG-AFTRA, Warner Bros. and a 25 year run as a hired gun for Cirque du Soleil’s special event department. Keith also served as artistic director of the Hunter S. Thompson Memorial & is a founding member of the HST Institute. Keith has been a contributing member of the Burning Man Community for the better part of the past 20 years and continues to design restaurants, retail, residential, festival, special event & amusement spaces throughout our planet.

Katie Nartonis
Board Member

Katie Nartonis is a curator, writer, filmmaker, gallerist and 20th century design specialist. She is the contributing design, art and architectural writer for SoCal Magazine, Desert magazine and the Joshua Tree Voice.

Previous to moving to the high desert, she enjoyed an over 20 year auction career working in the 20th Century Design departments at Heritage, Bonhams, Butterfields and Los Angeles Modern Auctions, and a decade long career producing award winning film and television. She serves as President of the Executive Board of the Sam and Alfeda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts.

Judson Neil Schwartz
Board Member

Jud has created and produced events that bring people from all walks of life together for 30 years, including 9 years of The One World Music Festivals  and 5 years of World Wellness Weekends throughout the country. These have been so diverse to have included Deepak Chopra, Willie Nelson, Michael Franti, Ziggy Marley, James Brown, Jackson Browne, George Clinton, Bunny Wailer, Marianne Williamson, Primus, String Cheese Incident, T. Harv Eker, and many, many others as well as hundreds of exhibitors.  

He most recently has been Co- Producer of  Bhakti Fest and Shakti Fest, two of the country’s premier yoga and kirtan music festivals including Shiva Rey, Krishna Das, and MC Yogi.  He is also serving as an advisor on Contact in The Desert, the highly acclaimed UFO conference held every year around Palm Springs.

As well, he is an independent consulting producer on dome experiences on the west coast including Wisdome LA for Full Dome Pro and has been for the last 4 years.

He came to producing his own events from working in Hollywood as a Location Manager and Scout on Naked Gun, Dick Tracy, People Under the Stairs, Hannah and Her Sisters, Unsolved Mysteries, and many commercials.

Terry Taylor-Castillo
Executive Director

Terry (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 ED.

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 the arts.

Nancy Klein
Retreat Manager

Nancy comes to us as a seasoned customer service professional with experience in the retail and hospitality industries including See’s Candies and Williams-Sonoma. Her background includes a strong focus on employee relations and management. 

Since moving to the desert 17 years ago, she was intrigued by and always wanted to work for, the Retreat Center. When the opportunity arose, she was happy to join the team. 

She says, “I love booking the retreats and welcoming the many diverse and interesting groups that come here. And hey, if I can assist people on spiritual journeys in some way, then it gives me a sense of purpose.”

Chakra Khan
Spiritual Culture & Wellness Manager

Chakra Khan is the Manager of Wellness and Spiritual Culture at Joshua Tree Retreat Center and a 500 hour RYT. She is certified to teach: Hatha, Vinyasa, Nidra, Ashtanga and is a certified pranayama teacher and Reiki healer. She also leads the Tarot training at the Retreat Center and has been reading cards for over 20 years and is a skilled root worker and offers Soul Surgeries (using angelic energies to remove trauma from the physical and emotional bodies). She has been teaching yoga in Southern California for the last decade with a focus on Spirit Plant Enhanced Yoga. She believes that plants are our strongest teachers and loves using their magic to help the healing practice of yoga.

Susie Eaton Thorp
Gift Shop Manager & Curator

Susie has a background in retail management and 30 years of experience in conservation framing. She’s worked with artists and galleries in the Santa Ana’s artist village, Pomona’s arts colony, then opened Bunny Gunner Art services in 2007 in Pomona with her husband Juan where they featured contemporary artists from all over Southern California.  They also curated and juried shows throughout the region. They moved the business to the Claremont Village in 2013. 

After visiting the Pioneertown and Joshua Tree area for years they decided to buy a home in Pioneertown. They eventually sold the Claremont business in December of 2019. Susie opened a small art gallery during the pandemic in Yucca Valley called Desert Peach. Susie has now joined the team at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center as bookstore manager and art curator for the cafe and gift shop. 

“ I love working in such a positive and rewarding environment. I love meeting the visitors from all over the world!” The Joshua Tree Retreat Center is a beautiful place. It feels so good to work with strong community builders and people with vision!”

Cafe Staff
Patrick San Paolo
Brenda Estrada
Aliana O’Connor
Isabel Gutierrez
Karen Willey
Bernard Jackson
David Crawshaw