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CEO of FIND Food Bank Receives Mary T. Roche Community Leadership Award


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9th Annual “Women Who Rule” Luncheon at The Classic Club in Palm Desert

Four extraordinary Coachella Valley women and one visionary “WLF Coachella Valley Man of the Year” will be honored for their outstanding community leadership, public service and entrepreneurship on Friday, May 6, 2022, at Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley’s 9th Annual “Women Who Rule!” Awards Luncheon and Scholarship Fundraiser. This spectacular and much anticipated valley-wide luncheon honors exceptional leaders making a difference in our community.

The 11 a.m. event at the Classic Club in Palm Desert, 75200 Classic Club Boulevard, will be emceed by KESQ News Channel 3’s Laurilie Jackson and the City of Indio’s Brooke Beare — and will kick off with an elegant champagne reception followed by a noon awards program and luncheon. The Presenting Sponsor of this year’s event is well-known Coachella Valley law firm, SBEMP.

This year’s outstanding honorees include:

Debbie Espinosa, CEO of FIND Food Bank of the Coachella Valley, “Mary T. Roche Community Leadership Award.” Serving in the nonprofit sector for 30 years at the local, regional, national and international levels, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Espinosa and her hardworking team at FIND Food Bank led the way when it came to safely feeding our hungry neighbors, often out of work and in dire need, through numerous food drives and drive-by mobile food distributions throughout the Coachella Valley. Espinosa’s incredible visibility in the community and her passionate commitment to raising funds and awareness related to the growing problem of food insecurity in the region is unparalleled, and her commitment to feeding those in need, especially during a global pandemic when items were scarce, is one of the key factors why so many local residents negatively impacted by COVID-19 made it through the storm. Espinosa’s tireless work and community leadership is well known throughout the entire Coachella Valley.

Calista Vassios and Rhea Hoffman, founders of Vaccinate Inland Empire, better known as “Vaxie,” WLF Visionary Award. Vassios and Hoffman co-founded Vaxie to help people navigate the always changing Covid-19 vaccination system in Southern California with the goal of helping those in need schedule often hard to find appointments and get vaccinated. When the COVID-19 virus first started spreading, the duo realized there was a need to help provide equal vaccine access for all; especially senior citizens struggling to navigate the confusing online appointment systems, full-time employees with work and time constraints, and undocumented and homeless individuals, many without computers, who needed easily accessible information about how to get a vaccine appointment and not be turned away. Vassios and Hoffmann stepped up to create an organization that turns no one away. What started out as two friends concerned about their most at-risk neighbors, has turned into a growing organization of more than 25 volunteers, that has helped more than 78,000 individuals since February 2021 get vaccinated.

Haley Clawson, Chief Meteorologist, KESQ News Channel 3, “WLF Inspiration Award.” Clawson joined KESQ in January 2016. Follow her forecasts each weekday evening at 5, 6, 6:30, 10 and 11 PM. Clawson earned her Bachelor of Science in Geoscience with a concentration in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS. Originally from South Florida, since moving to the Coachella Valley, Clawson has become involved with a local triathlon club and participates in annual races. Outside of weather forecasting, Clawson also raises money for young women interested in science, technology and STEM careers by awarding scholarships through her non-profit, which produces an annual 5K run/walk in the Coachella Valley. She is a passionate proponent on education and promoting STEM careers for young women as an avenue to success.

Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oakview Group, WLF Man of the Year Award. Leiweke is the co-founder of the Oakview Group, which is bringing the new Acrisure Arena to the Coachella Valley, the future home of the Seattle Kraken’s new AHL franchise, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, as well as a much anticipated 11,000-seat concert venue that will host some of the biggest live musical acts in the country, in partnership with Live Nation. The new arena, slated to open later this year, is expected to be a transformational game changer for the Coachella Valley when it comes to increasing tourism and economic development that will drive the region’s economy and prosperity for generations to come. A longtime leader and veteran in the sports and entertainment industry with over 40 years of experience, Leiweke is the former CEO of AEG corporation. He has helped create some of the world’s most iconic music festivals and built many championship teams across the NBA, NHL, MLS, AHL, and DEL. In addition, the Oakview Group is well known for its commitment to hiring women — and the Acrisure Arena is leading the way when it comes to hiring women executives and team members in the Coachella Valley

“Debbie Espinosa, Calista Vassios, Rhea Hoffmann and Haley Clawson serve as shining inspirations and tremendous role models for the accomplished members of Women Leaders Forum and the young women we mentor,” states WLF President Jenell VanDenBos. “In addition, we are incredibly excited to pay tribute to this year’s “WLF Coachella Valley Man of the Year,” Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oakview Group, who will soon become one of the largest employers of women in the Coachella Valley.

Proceeds raised at the luncheon directly fund college scholarships for the best and brightest enrolled in WLF’s Young Women Leaders Program with up to a $30,000 match from ONE-Future Coachella Valley. In addition, longtime WLF member Charissa Farley-Hay has pledged to match up to $5,000 of the donations made through the website at

“SBEMP is a proud supporter of Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley, and we are thrilled to be this year’s presenting sponsor of Women Who Rule,” says attorney Renell Burch, a partner with SBEMP. “This year’s slate of honorees continues to reach the highest levels of achievement in their profession, and we are incredibly thankful for their leadership, vision and passionate commitment to making the Coachella Valley a better place.”

Leadership sponsors include: CV Strategies, Desert Health, Iris Event Planning, Blanke Schein Wealth Management, The Practice CPAs, KESQ, buzzbox premium cocktails, Jenell VanDenBos & Assoc. Real Estate, Desert Care Network, Solowitz CPA, Chase Bank, Classic Club and Wildest Restaurant + Bar.

Founded in 2001 by former Indian Wells Mayor and Councilmember, Mary T. Roche, over the last 20 plus years, WLF has raised more than $700,000 for college scholarships for members of its Young Women Leaders Mentoring Program.

Ticket prices are $95 for members and $125 for non-members. For more information about WLF membership, programs, events, or to make a scholarship donation, visit