Board of Directors
DENNIS CHASE | PRESIDENT
Dennis is originally from Hyannis, Cape Cod, MA and moved to California in 1991. He sang with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus from 1998 under Dr. Stan Hill's direction until 2020, when Dennis moved to Palm Springs. During that time he also performed in musical theater and operetta with various SF Bay Area companies. Dennis has been on the board of several non-profit organizations, including chapters of the NAMES Project and Toastmasters. He currently works as a biotech project manager with a global firm, helping solve unmet medical needs. He looks forward to the rewards and challenges of helping to deliver Modern Men's mission and achieve our goals. On the lighter side, Dennis has appeared on Wheel of Fortune and was a Jeopardy! champion in April 2021. He is a member of PS Cookbook Bears and hopes to make it onto an amateur TV baking show one of these days.
JERALD MILLER | VICE PRESIDENT & MARKETING CHAIR
Originally from Elkhart, IN, Jerald earned his Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI. After college, he worked in Retail Management for 14 years and then Commercial Insurance for another 20 years. Jerald came to the Coachella Valley in 2015 from Chicago with his partner of 21 years, Richard. Jerald has been a member of Modern Men since the fall of 2019.
DAVID PALUS | SECRETARY
David came to Palm Springs in 2016 from Seattle, with his husband Sal, of 35 years. Originally from Ohio, David earned a Bachelor's degree in Business and French, and worked in publishing for 11 years before joining the Seattle King County Sheriff's Office in 1993, working in the Communications Division. In 2000, he became a deputy assigned to street patrol, then took on recruiting duties in 2008, continuing his patrol assignment until his retirement in 2016. David joined Modern Men in 2019 and sings Baritone in the chorus.
MITCHELL LAKS | TREASURER
Mitch sang in many choruses throughout his school and work lives. He is proud to have been a founding member of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus (CGMC) and sang with them for more than 30 years. He served on the CGMC Board of Directors for more than 10 years serving as President and General Manager. Aside from singing, during his time on the Board he helped to update the Constitution and Bylaws, was part of the Search Team recommending a new Artistic Director when the Founding Director retired, helped reorganize CGMC’s financial records and witnessed the transition from a managing Board to a governing Board.
ALEXEI BARNES | DIRECTOR AT LARGE
Alexei relocated to the Desert in September 2018 after 12 years in El Dorado Hills, CA and 13 years in the SF Bay Area. He was raised in Laramie, WY where he resided for 25 years after graduating from the University of Wyoming (UW) with a BA in Music. While at the University, he was a cellist with the University Symphony and Chamber Orchestras and sang with the Collegiate Chorale. He was a board member with LGBTQ’s of Wyoming and past president of UW’s LGBTQ group. Under the direction of Dr. Stan Hill, Alexei sang with the San Francisco Gay Men’s chorus from 1993 – 1998. He has been a member of Modern Men since June of 2021.
STEVE CARSON | DIRECTOR AT LARGE
Steve grew up in Philadelphia. In 1979 he served a three year apprenticeship at a bakery, became a French pastry chef and moved to Los Angeles to open his own business in Los Feliz in 1982. In 1989 he opened the bakery/café La Conversation in West Hollywood. In January 2019 he closed his business, retired and moved to the Desert. Steve moved to Cathedral City 2020. His favorite things to do are traveling, sailing and horses.
BILL CIFFAIRY | DIRECTOR AT LARGE
Bill Ciffairy was born and raised in Queens, NY, and later moved and lived most of his adult life in downtown. In New York, Bill earned his undergraduate degrees in English/Secondary Education from St. John’s University and his Master’s Degree in Deafness Rehabilitation from NYU. Bill taught high school English and then became involved with American Sign Language and worked with the Deaf community as an educator where he taught Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. Later, he became a school administrator with the NYC Department of Education from which he retired in 2013. Bill is a nationally certified sign language interpreter for the Deaf. As an interpreter, Bill has worked in numerous venues including; Carnegie Hall, several Broadway theaters and Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. Bill was a singing member of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus for almost 13 years and served in various capacities including interim acting chair. Bill joined Modern Men in 2021 after he and his domestic partner, Drew, moved to Palm Springs.
ROGER HUNT | MEMBERSHIPCHAIR
Roger was born in Tulsa, OK and spent most of his formative years in Dallas, TX where he settled as an adult. In 1996, he moved to San Francisco and took a job with a publishing company known for their non-profit and leadership titles. His skills in understanding computerized subscription fulfillment systems were utilized in his positions as Subscription Manager and later as Renewals Manager. He worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years. Roger produced the Russian River LeatherSIR/Leatherboy contest in 2005 - 2006 and served on the Board of the parent organization in 2011 - 2013. Roger and his husband retired to Palm Springs in March of 2020.
DR. E. DAVID JANSING | DEVELOPMENT CHAIR
David is originally from Louisville, KY where he was active in many different choral and theatre organizations, including directing several church choirs. After graduate school, Dave moved to the Washington, DC/Baltimore area, living there for nearly 20 years. He joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC in 1999, singing Bass. He was active for many years with GMCW, serving as Membership Chair, Vice-President and President. He has had the honor and privilege of performing at Symphony Hall (Boston), Carnegie Hall (NYC) and the Kennedy Center (DC). David worked as a choral director at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, a respected Catholic Church in Baltimore. Professionally, he works as a scientist, professor, and author at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School for Engineering. David moved to the Coachella Valley in 2016 and is extremely excited to be singing Bass with Modern Men.
PETER KOSTROBALA | DIRECTOR AT LARGE
Peter is a career Information Technology professional with over thirty years in the field, the last 11 as a C-level consultant with Ernst & Young, CapGemini USA and independent contracts. He has volunteered, often in leadership positions, for most of his adult life. While mostly for theatrical companies in the earlier years (production and tech), he has also volunteered at DAP Health and AAP offering IT, organizational and logistical expertise. More recently he served as Board Member and Treasurer for Let’s Kick A.S.S. Palm Springs, and is in the final six months of his term as Vice President with Palm Springs Leather Order of The Desert. His service with Modern Men features dedication, integrity and willingness to take on challenges.
STEPHEN OWENS | DIRECTOR AT LARGE
Stephen is a founding member of Modern Men in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. A bass singer, Stephen has an extensive choral background, starting in high school chorales, many years in the Barbershop Society, various community choruses as well as small ensembles. He was a founding member and sang with ‘Equal Voices’ in San Francisco, a 12-man ensemble, for over six years. A previous member of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and their small ensemble, Vocal Minority. Additionally, Stephen was a member of the Orlando Gay Chorus in Florida. A move to Palm Springs allowed Mr. Owens to join the newly-formed Modern Men. Additional local participation in Harmonic Voices and Schola Cantorum allowed him to showcase his ensemble skills. Stephen has a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge and a Teaching Certificate from California State University, Fullerton. A retired Special Education teacher, he is looking forward to sharing his experience and history with the board of Modern Men, where he can help shape the future of the organization, to enhance the presence of the Chorus in the Coachella Valley arts community, and assist in the forming of a solid, well-run choral organization.