Board of Directors

Our Board Members are an incredible group of individuals who strive to provide direction and leadership as to the direction of Guide Dogs of the Desert. Their years of service are indescribably appreciated. With their guidance, GDD continues to grow and change to meet the needs of our community. Through years of voluntary leadership, this group of community pillars have served our organization well.  Read a full biography about each of our members by selecting the button below their name. 

Richard Clapp

President Richard Clapp. Press the button below to view full bio

Judy Northrup
Vice Chair

Board Member Judy Northrup. Click button below to read full bio

John Schooler

Cynthia Woods

Board Member Cynthia Woods. Click button below to read full bio

Shellie Reade
Board Member

Guido Portante
Board Member

Member Guido Portante. Click button below to read full bio.

Gary Jeandron
Board Member

Member Gary Jeandron. Click button below to read full bio
The board members listed below have given their time, dedication and leadership to Guide Dogs of the Desert for years. During their time serving on our Board of Directors, they have offered invaluable support. While their service for GDD has come to an end, we still honor their time and express our sincerest gratitude for the work they’ve done to help shape our organization.
Graphic displays text that reads: Honorary Board Member Tricia Gehrlein Emeritus Board Members Laurie Kettering, Pattie Craine, Leonard Sigdestad, DVM

Select a member from the list below to read their full bios!

Richard Clapp: Board Chairman

A photo of Richard Clapp, Guide Dogs of the Desert Board Chairman
Richard spent 37 years working as a teacher, counselor and administrator for the Palm Spring Unified School District, and spent 12 years as an elected official on the District’s Board. Richard has a Master’s Degree in Mathematics from Northern Arizona University and has also earned a Life Secondary Teaching Credential in Mathematics and a Life K-12 Administrative Credential. He is a current Trustee on the Ralph FIngerlee Education Trust, which grants yearly scholarships to Hispanic Boys in the Palm Springs Unified School District. He participates annually in the Boy Scout Citizen of the Year selection and helps organize the recognition event. He volunteers at the USO at the Palm Springs Airport, and is an active member of the United Methodist Church serving s the Chair of the Finance Committee. In addition to his community volunteer activities, Richard enjoys leading hiking groups throughout the year.

Judy Northtrup: Vice Chair

A photo of Judy with a standard poodle
Judy is a long-time supporter of GDD and its mission. She has spent several years engaged with our Canine Development Department and along the way she and her husband Jim have raised 10 of our poodles – are currently raising the 11th!

Judy is retired from the real estate and building industry, and continues to operate a family rental property business. In addition to her belief in the GDD mission, she lends her financial, social and critical thinking skills to the Board.

John Schooler: Treasurer

John Schooler
John Schooler, a member of the California State Bar for over 40 years, has an extensive background in tax, probate and trust administration, administrative law, and fundraising. He has raised over $50,000 for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, ASCPA, and AIDS/LifeCycle benefits. 

John is also a current board member and treasurer of Animal Samaritans as well as an active member of the Desert Estate Planning Council and Sierra Club.John received his bachelor’s degree in History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1974 and thereafter worked as an interim park ranger for California Parks and Recreation for three years before enrolling in law school. Mr. Schooler earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law in 1980.

John worked for the IRS for 36 years, serving in many roles including supervising a nationwide team of attorneys responsible for tax controversy matters in connection with estates, gifts, and generation-skipping transfers. Following retirement from the IRS, John has practiced law in California, specializing in probate, tax controversy, mediation, and estate planning. Spanning 30 years, John has been an Adjunct Professor at various universities including UCLA Extension, University of West Los Angeles School of Law, and Southwestern Law School. He has co-authored a book on the “Nuts and Bolts of the Federal Estate Tax Return” and edited the “Estate Planning at the Movies: Art of the Estate Tax Return” (2nd Edition) by Keith Schiller, and reviewed the recent textbook, “Principles of Taxation of the United States” (2020) by Fabio Ambrosio.

His passion for animals and the welfare of visually impaired dates back to high school when he was a pre-vet major and worked in two animal hospitals and his affiliation with the Braille Institute in Santa Barbara who helped his father cope with his visual impairment. John, with vision in only one, appreciates the importance of Guide Dogs of the Desert providing highly trained guide dogs to individuals who are visually impaired or blind and giving them the freedom and independence to live a fuller and more productive life.

John enjoys spending time hiking, running 10Ks and marathons, traveling the world, and spending time in Rancho Mirage with his husband Tom and Barney, a 7-year old gray Standard Poodle they are fostering through Guide Dogs of the Desert’s breeding program. Barney is a proud Dad to several litter of puppies at Guide Dogs of the Desert.

Cynthia Woods: Secretary

Cynthia Woods Secretary
A graduate of Western Michigan University – earning Masters of Arts in Vision Rehabilitation therapy. Also certified by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education professionals. Cynthia works as a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist at the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix, Arizona, where she teaches braille, orientation and adjustment to disability, and assistive technology to adults who are blind or visually impaired. She is also a member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Cynthia’s husband Bill is a mortgage broker and they have one daughter, Victoria, who is a graduate of Northern Arizona University with a degree in accounting. Cynthia is a four-time graduate of Guide Dogs of the Desert.

Shellie Reade: Board Member

Before moving to the Desert 20 years ago, Shellie lived on the Monterey Peninsula, where she and her brother own commercial property.  Shellie was active in, and continues to support, the SPCA of Monterey County. Upon moving to Palm Springs, she volunteered at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Academy, as well as the Palm Springs Art Museum. 

Shellie was invited to a Guide Dogs of the Desert graduation, and was incredibly moved by the service Guide Dogs provide to blind people, as well as the connection and bonding the animals have with the students, puppy raisers and trainers.Shellie has attended and purchased tables at Dog Day Afternoon and has sponsored puppies.  Guide Dogs of the Desert is a very important organization in the desert and deserves accolades and support!

Guido Portante: Board Member

Guido Portante
General Portante is the absolute citizen-soldier.  Born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and having grown up in Cleveland, Ohio, the family made a move to California where he gained his valuable work ethic and experience in the family “deli” and Italian Restaurant.  But it was when he became a member of the California National Guard that he found his true calling – for the military and its culture appealed to him.  Guido went on to a distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard before he retired. He began his career as a private and retired as a Brigadier General.

During his military career, Portante served in many capacities from commander of troops to key staff assignments, including an appointment by then President Ronald Reagan to be the Associate Director for the United States Selective Service System, headquartered in Washington, D.C. He became the consummate trainer for the entire Selective Service System across the United States. 

He interacted and supported local, state and federal political leaders in civil unrest and natural disasters. He worked with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in support of counter-drug operations along the California-Mexico border. Portante graduated from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Penn. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Pacific Christian College, and a master’s of public administration from Shippensburg University, Pennsylvania.

General Portante resides in Rancho Mirage, California.  He is an enthusiastic golfer and an accomplished cook (Italian) to the delight of his family and friends.  He continues his service to others, having served as President of the World Affairs Council of the Desert, actively involved in the Salvation Army, Veteran’s Easy Access Program, finding way to support our Veterans in the Coachella Valley.

Gary Jeandron: Board Member

Gary Jeandron
For more than three decades, Gary Jeandron served professionally with the Palm Springs Police Department. He started as a Records Clerk and became Chief of Police 29 years later in 2002.  Chief Jeandron retired at the end of 2007.  He is a graduate of the F.B. I Academy. Jeandron’s public safety decorations include Police Officer of the Year, Medal of Courage, Chairman of the Palm Springs Police Memorial Fund, 18 years as a SWAT team member, and Police Department Citizen Academy Instructor. 

In addition to serving as Police Chief, Jeandron was elected to serve on the Palm Springs Unified School Board of Directors. As a school board member Jeandron supervises a school district with 24,000 students and an annual budget of $199 million.  He was a founding Board of Director for SafeHouse of the Desert, and currently serves on the YMCA Board.

Jeandron earned an AA in psychology from College of the Desert, a BA in Psychology from California State University San Bernardino, and a Master’s Degree in Marriage, Family Therapy from Chapman University. 

He is licensed by the State of California as a Marriage, Family Therapist.Gary has two adult children, five grandchildren. He and his wife, Amy, live in La Quinta, California.  Gary brings a wealth of knowledge about our community and is well connected throughout the Inland Empire. Originally supported Guide Dogs of the Desert as a member of the Palm Springs Lions Club and has served as our Emcee and Auctioneer at the Paws for Independence and Pinot for Paws events the past three years.

Thank you to Guide Dogs of the Desert Board Members both past and present for your service and leadership.

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