Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce Announces 2016 Athena Award Honorees

16-psc-1406_athenaawards_eblast_600x1000_v8-2The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce’s 30th Annual Diamond Anniversary Winter Wonderland Athena Awards Holiday Gala is coming up on Friday, Dec. 2nd at 12noon at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

In addition, you won’t want to miss the elegant 11 a.m. champagne reception and fashion show sponsored by Shops on El Paseo. As part of the Athena Awards anniversary, a special tribute for every past Athena honoree from every city in the valley over the past 30 years is planned. If you’re a past Athena recipient, you are invited to this event which honors so many of the fabulous women community leaders here in the desert. Reserve tables and tickets at

This year, the event, produced by the past Athena honoree Shari Kelley, will honor five extraordinary ladies from all over the Coachella Valley: Nelda Linsk, Beverly Johnson, Denise DuBarry Hay, Selby Dunham and Diane Jessup. 


About the 2015 Athena Award Honorees:

Nelda Linsk has a real estate background of 33 years, having lived in the desert since 1965. She has been one of Palm Springs’ most visible broker associates, with a specialty in estate luxury properties, and was co-owner of Coldwell Banker Eadie Adams Realty.

Nelda and her late husband purchased the legendary Edgar Kaufmann Estate (by Richard Neutra) in 1964. She has attracted many upscale clients in part because of her unselfish involvement in community philanthropy. She is a member of The Desert Estates Network group, one of the Top 10 Desert Realtors selected by Palm Springs Life Magazine, and recipient of the Athena Award for Entrepreneurial Business Woman in 1997. Nelda is also a Board Member and Founding Member of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Affiliates, Past Board Member of the Palm Springs Film Festival and Board Member of Act for Multiple Sclerosis.

Beverly Johnson is a supermodel, actress, and businesswoman who now makes her home in Palm Springs. She rose to fame when she became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine in August 1974. She also starred in the reality series Beverly’s Full House on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The New York Times named Beverly one of the 20th century’s most influential people in fashion.

She is the author of Beverly Johnson’s Guide to a Life of Health and Beauty, and has appeared in several films and television series. Most recently, she was named Celebrity Grand Marshal of the 23rd Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade to be held on December 3rd. In addition, Beverly will receive a star on the prestigious Palm Springs Walk of Stars; the star will be unveiled on December 3rd as well.

Denise DuBarry Hay is an entrepreneur and actress in film and television. She serves as President of Palm Springs Women in Film and Television, as well as runs her newly formed entertainment/media company, Kaswit, Inc. which develops and funds infomercials and feature films. In 1990, she founded Thane International, a leading global direct response marketer, with her husband and business partner, Bill Hay. Denise’s infomercials and products have generated more than 1 billion dollars in sales.

She is involved with several local and regional community initiatives, including Olive Crest homes for abused children where she serves as a trustee and co-chair of the development committee for the Coachella Valley. Denise has also served as a board member of the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Women Leaders Forum, the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and Thane International. She currently serves as a member of the boards of the Marywood/Palm Valley School, WIFTI (Women in Film & Television International) and is a director and the President of Palm Springs Women in Film & Television.

Selby Dunham is the founder of BIGHORN BAM (Behind a Miracle). Inspired to save the lives of Coachella Valley cancer patients, BIGHORN Behind A Miracle raised over $1.285 million last season for cancer patient support services, breast cancer diagnostic technologies and educational scholarships during their five-month long fundraising campaign.
BIGHORN BAM’s 2013-2014 fundraising dollars benefited The Pendleton Foundation and Eisenhower Medical Center. The Pendleton Foundation received $150,000 to help cancer patients relieve some of the financial burdens while affording their treatments. In addition, BIGHORN BAM has given $1,000,000 to the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center to support a Giotto Mammography machine, allowing the patient additional comfort and ease during biopsies in the new BIGHORN BAM procedure suite.

Diane Jessup is a long-time Palm Springs community leader and philanthropist. Diane and her husband Andy, owners of Jessup Auto Plaza, founded and began sponsoring the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce Athena Awards 30 years ago.

Her involvement includes the University of Southern California, Palm Springs High School, Palm Valley School, National Charity League, the Palm Springs Woman’s Club, the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, and The Junior League of Palm Springs Desert Communities, and her honors include the Palm Springs Woman’s Club Pearl McManus Community Service Award. She also raised five children, who she count as her greatest accomplishment.


About David J Castello

David J Castello is the Editor-in-Chief and Chief Operating Officer for the Castello Cities Internet Network (,,, etc). His debut novel, The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959) was published in 2016.

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