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Our Team

Stone James
Economic Development Director

Mr. James brings more than 20 years of private management and public sector collaboration experience in land investment and development for residential and commercial projects ranging in values between $200,000 and $50 million. Most recently, he served as the Vice President for Land Advisors Organization for the entire Coachella Valley, Imperial Valley, and Morongo Basin. Other prior experience includes working for major housing developers, such as Toll Brothers, Inc. for the Coachella Valley and Inland Empire as well as Richmond American Homes of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Beyond his professional experience, Mr. James also brings a long list of civic involvement including being a current member of the City of Indio’s General Plan Advisory Committee and previous involvement as a commissioner for the City of Indio’s Planning Commission and Land Use Committee, member of the City of Palm Desert’s Envision Palm Desert 2033 General Plan Update. He has also served as a Sworn Reserve Deputy, EMT, and Search and Rescue Team Member for the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department, as a Water Rescue & Search and Rescue Team Member for the Spokane County Sheriff, and as a Volunteer Fire Prevention Ranger with the United States Forest Service.

Mr. James has a solid record of professional and academic achievement earning an M.R.E.D. (Master of Real Estate Development) from the University of Southern California and a B.B.A. (Bachelor of Business Administration) from Gonzaga University. Mr. James is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Policy, Planning, and Development from the University of Southern California.

Leisa Lukes
Business Development Manager

Leisa Lukes has more than 20 years of public agency and private sector experience in planning and project management, redevelopment and economic development. Her public agency experience includes the South Florida Regional Planning Council, the City of San Diego, and San Diego’s Southeast Economic Development Corporation.

Following her years as the City of Chula’s manager for redevelopment of the Chula Vista Bayfront, she joined Cathedral City as the City Planner in 2006. She served in that capacity for 6 years and was instrumental in annexing over 1,400 acres into the City’s corporate boundary and adding nearly 10,000 acres to the City’s sphere of influence. She was the team leader for both the North City and the North City Extended Specific Plans establishing land use regulations for future development of nearly 5,000 acres fronting Interstate 10 in the Coachella Valley. These Plans received both local and state American Planning Association (APA) awards.

In 2012, during the lingering “Great Recession,” Leisa transitioned to the City’s Economic Development Division as the Business Development Manager to retain, grow and attract business to the city. She continues to provide the link between the City’s regulatory requirements and the needs of real estate professionals, business owners, and developers. Through ongoing relationships with the Chamber, the Small Business Development Center and other business support agencies, she works to grow and expand the City’s many small businesses and maintain the City’s business-friendly spirit.

Leisa is originally from the Washington, DC area. She received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the School of Environmental Design at the University of Georgia and a Master of Business Administration from San Diego State University. She served as Director for APA’s Inland Empire Section in 2011/12 and in various Board positions from 2008 to 2013.

Leisa previously owned a landscape design firm, is a California-licensed Landscape Architect, and member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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