WHO WE ARE


At the core of JTLA is a group of artists, educators, and creative entrepreneurs from a range of artistic disciplines, who are committed to providing arts opportunities to all members of our community.
Our Mission: Joshua Tree Living Arts is dedicated to strengthening our community through the arts.

Our Vision: is to provide resources and programs that create an economically-viable, sustainable, vibrant, and interconnected living arts community for all generations.

 

​Joshua Tree Living Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization. Our programs are funded by donations, sponsorships, contributions, grants, and most importantly -- our membership.

Our Team
​Our dedicated crew has pledged a commitment to creating stability and sustainability in everything we do. We are financially responsible, develop programs that are in alignment with our mission, and ensure that our programs are accessible to the community at large regardless of economics, race, color, sex, national or ethnic origin, age, religion or religious creed, disability or handicap.
Rhonda Lane Coleman - Executive Director
Rhonda Coleman is an entrepreneurial arts professional with Bachelors degrees in Business Administration and Art History, a Masters in Art History and Museum Studies, and over 20 years in the art and design field. She has held important museum positions at the Henry Art Gallery - Seattle’s Contemporary Art Museum, The Corcoran Gallery of Art in DC, and taught at the University of Washington and University of Southern California. She is most recognized for pioneering the art of unknown artists, experimenting with art accessibility, and developing sustainable arts models. Coleman has lived in 29 Palms for more than a decade, and worked with many arts organizations in the Joshua Tree area -- Joshua Tree National Park Council for the Arts, 29 Palms Art Gallery, Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council -- and is currently the Executive Director of Joshua Tree Living Arts.

Board of Directors​​​​

Ronda Mueller - President
Ronda Mueller is an entrepreneur with a passion for the arts, travel, health, international community service projects, and sustainable business practices, and a lifelong resident of the high desert. Ronda currently owns and operates an international art distribution company and volunteers with a variety of community groups. Past accomplishments include: Student and Family Resources Navigator for Healthy Start Program as a Caseworker for 9 local elementary schools providing comprehensive school-integrated services; Technology/Computer science Teacher at Yucca Mesa Elementary School where she also cofounded the Big Brother/ Sister Mentor Program; Cofounder of the High Desert Living Arts Center, a 501c3 nonprofit arts org; Curator and Organizer of Living Arts Cooperative Gallery; Director of HDLAC Kids’ Summer Arts Camp; and Organizer of Chuckwalla Music Festival. Ronda is EMT trained and certified, with specialized training in disaster and maternal care, and spent the winter of 2014 working with Mercy in Action in Tacloban, Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.
Kali Poulin - Vice President/Treasurer
As a resident of Joshua Tree for the last 8 years, Kali Poulin is an active member in the community, working with numerous local businesses and organizations on promoting and sustaining their unique cultural and natural environments. Recently retired as the manager of Pappy and Harriet’s, one of the top music venues in California, Kali is now focused on event production, where she manages events of up to 30,000 people, overseeing budget allocations and procedural implementation. She specializes in cohesion, organization, data collection, and developing new models of system structures. Currently pursuing an education in Ecopsychology, Kali aims to use her work in the world as a means to heal both inner and outer environments.
Travis Puglisi - Secretary/Administrative Director
Travis Puglisi is an Event Production Specialist with expertise in project management, systems development, cloud-based communication platforms, and site management. Travis has been living in the Mojave Desert in and around Joshua Tree since 2001, and during this time has worked with a number of local businesses, 501c3s, civic groups, and grassroots organizations driven to create economic and environmental sustainability for a town with limited economic resources, but vast cultural and environmental value. Through these efforts, he has come to appreciate the value of community and the culture that drives it. 

Lynne Thelen - Education Director
Lynne Thelen comes to JTLA with over 16 years of experience in education. After graduating with a Masters in Education from UIC@ Chicago, she led a blended-learning pilot program and was responsible for the development and implementation of the 4th, 5th, & 6th grade multi-age program. In 2004, Lynne moved to Joshua Tree and began teaching mostly 4th grade in the Morongo Unified School District. She co-facilitated the Family Involvement Program for over 700 students at Onaga Elementary where she created a partnership with parents, teachers, and students through various outreach programs. After 12 years at Onaga Elementary, Lynne started a new chapter at Lander's Elementary teaching 5th grade. In additional to teaching, Lynne has been Production Manager at Joshua Tree Music Festival since the inception, where she coordinates over 200 work-exchange volunteers and directs over 15 lead managers. Lynne co-founded and managed Transmission Joshua Tree, a non-profit that offered over 250 enrichment classes and playshops to the community of Joshua Tree.

Meg Shannon - Youth Program Director
Meg Shannon has been an educator for over 20 years. Having served as Principal of Riverside Garden School for 10 years, she has most recently been an advocate for dyslexia and an active member of Decoding Dyslexia California. She participated in the effort to pass AB 1369 which requires school districts to implement program guidelines for dyslexia. Meg serves on the boards of several local non-profits which benefit children in the Morongo Basin. In addition, Meg has worked extensively in volunteer positions helping children in all aspects of education. She is the co-facilitator of Kidsville at the Joshua Tree Music Festival where hundreds of children participate in art and music programs over a 3-day period twice a year.
Scott Cutler
Scott brings many years of experience with social service & non-profit organizations. He has sat on the board of directors for two organizations (Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce and New Jersey Division of the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy) and has been employed by many others (Morongo Basin Unity Home, Morongo Basin Mental Health, San Diego LGBT Community Center, Family Intervention Services Inc.). He worked as a clinical supervisor for over five years at a community-based family therapy agency in which he led a team of clinicians who provided in-home counseling services for youth and their families. He earned a MA in Counseling from San Diego State University and received extensive post graduate training in the theory & practice of marriage & family therapy from the Family Institute of Westchester in White Plains New York. Formerly a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in New Jersey & California, Scott now owns and operates Sacred Sands, a bed & breakfast inn here in Joshua Tree.
Edmund Shadman
Edmund Shadman is an entrepreneur and small business owner, with expertise in real estate, solar energy, and off grid systems.  He has been a builder living in Yucca Valley since 2006.  Edmund has sat on various boards of community organizations and currently sits on the board of Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce.  He has taken an active role in local politics as an organizer and candidate in Yucca Valley.  He has a passion for communication, real community needs, and feeding the people.  

Advisors

Barnett English - JTMF/JTLA Relations Director
Barnett English, a Joshua Tree resident since 1993, is the founder and organizer of the renowned Joshua Tree Music Festival. JTMF is held twice a year over 4 days in May & October, with 25 festivals to date that bring together arts, music, yoga, and children, and is consistently rated one of the top family friendly festivals in the country. Past accomplishments include: BA in Business from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business; Booking Agent and Event Specialist for Wayne Foster Entertainment; Founder and CEO of JavaGogo Coffee Co, a mobile concession company that has serviced over 3000 events; Co-founder and Organizer of the Living School in Joshua Tree, a successful parent led educational cooperative that offered both academic school sessions and workshops to children of the community; Co-Founder and Organizer of Transmission Joshua Tree, a non-profit entity offering over 250 enrichment classes and playshops to the community of Joshua Tree. Barnett’s continuing activities in both the arts and philanthropy have served as a leading force in the development of Joshua tree culture.

Aaron Mueller - Advisor
Aaron is a lifelong resident of the Morongo Basin, artist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Aaron has started multiple successful businesses in the arts industry and has a background in global service with work in Poland, Yugoslavia, Albania, Haiti, and China. His work has included personal counseling, micro financing, clean water resourcing/well drilling for the developing world, and economic/environmental sustainability projects. In 1998 Aaron created the base charter, goals, and methods that were to become the HDLAC/JTLA. With the official founding in 1999, Aaron served as President for the HDLAC’s first 10 years and continues to serve as advisor and one of several visionary agents for the organization. With the perennial philosophy and a core interest in human social development as guide posts, JTLA’s goals of community development, economic liberation, and personal education towards these ends continues.  

History of JTLA:
 
The Joshua Tree Living Arts, formerly High Desert Living Arts Center, was founded in 1999 with the goal of finding sustainable solutions and educating our communities about the complex social and economic needs facing us all today. By fusing small business facilitation, classic fundraising, and traditional grant writing, HDLAC was able to turn a small resource into a long history of public benefit activities in our area. Beginning with the Living Arts Gallery, a cooperative gallery and educational space, which operated for 7 years, and the Chuckwalla Music Festival, a 3-day local music extravaganza, HDLAC’s focus on art and music as a primary vehicle became evident. Our ongoing classes, annual Summer Arts Camp, and Artists-in-Schools program closed the loop connecting the interests of our local artists and the musicians with the children of our community, helping ensure the growth of the arts in our area. 

During this first phase, 1999-2006, we watched our community grow from one art gallery, ours, to a dozen, and from one music venue to six. Multiple music festivals and emergent arts organizations confirmed, as well the success, and in some ways, the completion of our first phase. Even as need was relieved in one area, the next movement was already underway. Over the next 7 years HDLAC sponsored, facilitated, and co-organized a succession of public benefit projects brought to us by the community: Sawtooth Fire Education response, Higher Ground (Hurricane Katrina Relief), SoPae Alternative Energy Conference, Transmissions Educational Resource Center, and The Living School are among the highlights from this period. 

Over the last several years, JTLA has become the primary vehicle for continuing the development of socially conscious and educational activities in the community.