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John Peña

#177 John Peña, Class of 1974

I am a lifelong Coachella Valley resident who found my passion for business, education and public service at College of the Desert. Following graduation from Indio High School, like so many local students, I turned to COD to start my higher education. I went on to attend and earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University, Fullerton and then a law degree from Western State University, College of Law. From my earliest time in school, I knew I wanted to serve my community.

My company, John Peña & Associates, is a business and governmental relations consulting firm. My wife Sherry is CEO of Emerald Presidio, Inc., a family owned food service business that includes Desert Cities Catering.

My career in public service began in 1982 when I served on a school site task force with city and school district officials to locate school sites in the City of La Quinta. I was elected to the La Quinta City Council two years later and served as La Quinta Mayor from 1985 to 1986, during which time I also served as Interim City Manager. I was elected Mayor in 1988 and was re-elected to that position in 1990 and 1992 and served until 1995. I was then re-elected Mayor in 1997 and served until 2002.

During my time as an elected official I also served as Chairman of Sunline Transit Agency and was a member of the Executive Board during the time the Agency began the process to convert its fleet from diesel to clean natural gas, the first transit agency in the country to do so.

I am past Chairman of the Board, John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital. I am currently Chairman of the Board for the La Quinta Chamber of Commerce. Recently, I was appointed to serve on the Dr. Carreon Foundation Board whose mission is to enhance educational and leadership opportunities for Hispanic youth in the Coachella Valley.