By Chris Clemens

The Coachella Valley’s premier lecture series, Desert Town Hall, presented by the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, announced the 2023 season speakers today. The series includes four renowned individuals who will appear before an audience of nearly 2,000 ticket holders at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells.

“We are thrilled to present these respected leaders for the 2023 series,” said Executive Director Becky Kurtz. “Attendees will hear from acclaimed experts on foreign policy, the national political scene, cyber security, genius and innovation, and more.”

The 2023 season line-up includes:


Frank Abagnale on Sunday, January 29, 2023. Abagnale is a renowned cyber security and fraud prevention expert and bestselling author of Scam Me If You Can, revealing what the world’s most skilled scammers are up to and how to stop them. He is one of the world’s most respected authorities on forgery, embezzlement, and secure documents. For over 40 years, he has worked with, advised, and consulted with hundreds of financial institutions, corporations, and government agencies worldwide, including the FBI. Abagnale’s rare blend of knowledge and expertise began more than 50 years ago when he was known as one of the world’s most famous con men. His riveting story inspired Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film, Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Abagnale and Tom Hanks as the FBI agent fast on his heels. The Tony-Award winning musical, Catch Me If You Can, directed by the legendary Jack O’Brien, opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Kimberley Strassel on Thursday, February 23, 2023. Strassel is an award-winning journalist and author, weekly columnist of “Potomac Watch” for the Wall Street Journal, and she also serves on the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Mike Pompeo on Monday, March 6, 2023. Pompeo served under President Trump as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2017 to 2018 and as Secretary of State from 2018 to 2021. He is the first person to have held both of those positions. As our nation’s senior diplomat, Pompeo helped craft U.S. foreign policy based on our nation’s founding ideals, putting America first. He emphasized renewing alliances with key allies, including Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Walter Isaacson on Sunday, April 2, 2023. Isaacson is a bestselling author, acclaimed historian, journalist, and Professor of History at Tulane University. He is the former president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, where he is now a distinguished fellow, and he also served as chairman and CEO of CNN and a managing editor at Time magazine. An accomplished biographer, Isaacson has written acclaimed books on Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Henry Kissinger, and, most recently, Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna. He is also the co-author of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.

Desert Town Hall is recognized as one of the pre-eminent speaker series in the nation, featuring world-renowned speakers. Desert Town Hall also offers a Youth Town Hall program bringing 150 Coachella Valley high school students to join a special presentation by each speaker before the main speech. Desert Forum, Inc. (which produces Desert Town Hall) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational corporation. A portion of ticket purchases may be tax-deductible.

Serving as officers and board officers for 2022-2023, the 31st season, are President Keith Goff (retired banker), Immediate Past President Andy Clark (111 Wealth Management), Vice President Scott Bailey (Independent Consultant), Vice President Brian Harnik (Roemer & Harnik LLP), and Secretary/Treasurer Phillip K. Smith, Jr. (Sunrise Company); and board members Judy Vossler (Landmark Golf), Jerry Fogelson (Fogelson Properties of Chicago), and Tim Pyne (Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa).

Staff for the series includes Executive Director Becky Kurtz, Director of Operations Maria Cross, Program Assistant Alexa Worman, and Program Assistant Savannah Ortega. Nearly 40 dedicated volunteers, many of whom have been with the series since its inception in 1993, help to make it a success every year.

Tickets are available, beginning at $400, including all four speakers. Visit or call (760) 610-2852. Follow Desert Town Hall on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.