On May 7-9, 2024, Sunnylands hosted the first meeting of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) Food Security Task Force. Launched in 2024 and comprising 16 leaders from across the public and private sectors, the Task Force will lead high-level MSC policy events on food security and identify potential food systems reforms.

With deep connections to climate change, migration, and regional and global conflicts, food system stability is a fundamental factor in national security yet is often overlooked and underfunded. Over two years, the Task Force aims to elevate the issue of food security on the international stage and develop strategic policy recommendations to share through their respective sectors. The group focuses their discussions on systemic food security solutions at the intersection of humanitarian and geopolitical challenges.

Attendees represented a diverse array of global institutions, including the World Bank, NATO, World Food Programme, and the g7+ secretariat. Over the course of two days, they created the strategy and objectives for the Task Force’s two-year work plan, including metrics for success, funding goals, a 2024 work plan, as well as first-year recommendations, which will be presented at the 2025 MSC.

The Task Force will convene later this year in Rome and members will participate in upcoming MSC activities such as the Munich Leaders Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, COP29 in Baku, as well as the MSC 2025. To learn more, please click here.

The Munich Security Conference is the leading forum for debating international security policy. It is a venue for diplomatic initiatives to address the world’s most pressing security concerns.

The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands congratulates former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as a new recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Kerry has played key roles in Sunnylands events in recent years. As Secretary of State, Kerry was one of the chief negotiators in the 2013 summit at Sunnylands between then-President Barack Obama and the president of China, Xi Jinping. He was also on hand to greet 11 foreign heads of state to Sunnylands three years later, when President Obama convened the first-ever gathering of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on U.S. soil.

More recently, as President Joseph Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate, Kerry spent four days at Sunnylands in November to negotiate a landmark climate agreement with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua. The accord, known as the Sunnylands Statement, accelerates the two countries’ move away from fossil fuels.   

“John Kerry dedicated his life to public service as a Vietnam War veteran, U.S. senator, and Secretary of State,” said Sunnylands President David Lane. “He is more than worthy to be recognized with the Medal of Freedom.”

The White House announced Friday that Kerry is one of 19 recipients of the Medal of Freedom this year.   

Kerry negotiated the climate agreement with China at Sunnylands before he stepped down as Biden’s climate envoy in January. The agreement by both countries to reduce methane emissions is credited with the success of the global climate negotiations in Dubai in December 2023.

Just days before Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 90, members of the slain civil rights leader’s inner circle and others who fought to end to racial segregation in the 1960’s convened for four days of talks at Sunnylands.

“The purpose was to reflect on and examine the important lessons of the non-violent movement that did so much to change America and the world,” said Sunnylands President David J. Lane.

As co-founder of the Gandhi King Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco, Dr. Clarence B. Jones partnered with The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands to reunite some of the luminaries of the civil rights movement, along with noted historians and scholars. Jones was King’s personal attorney and speechwriter who helped draft the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Other participants of the Jan. 3-6 retreat included Andrew Young, the former United Nations ambassador; Joan Baez, the renowned folk singer and activist; Minnijean Brown-Trickey, one of the “Little Rock Nine” who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957; and Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian.

The group of 18 retreat participants also wanted to pass on their wisdom to a new generation. Some participated in videotaped interviews about their experiences fighting alongside King in the segregated South. They also conversed with a number of social activists who are waging campaigns today on a range of issues, from the expansion of voting rights to combating gun violence, who joined them in dialogue at the Sunnylands gathering.

May Boeve and Natalia Cardona, leaders of 350.org, a grassroots organization focused on climate change, said in a blog post after the event that they “welcomed the opportunity to have some time to discuss with and learn from Reverend King’s team and a cadre of social movement leaders of today.”

After the convening in Rancho Mirage, some of the retreat participants issued a statement, titled “A Call to Conscience on the 90thBirthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” urging a renewed push of nonviolent activism. “Nonviolence is the heart and soul of our movement because we are united in a struggle against violence in all its forms,” the statement said.

(The statement and the video, Traveling with Dr. King, are linked below.)

The retreat participants were:

Joan Baez – singer, songwriter, activist

Taylor Branch – author, historian

Minnijean Brown-Trickey – activist for minority rights

Jonathan Capehart – journalist

Clayborne Carson – historian, professor

Gerald L. Durley – pastor emeritus, Providence Missionary Baptist Church

Paul Fitzgerald – president, University of San Francisco

David Goodman – president, Andrew Goodman Foundation

Jonathan D. Greenberg – executive director and co-founder, Gandhi King Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice

Susannah Heschel – scholar/professor, Dartmouth College

T. Johnson – civil rights leader

Clarence B. Jones – president and co-founder, Gandhi King Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice

Bernard Lafayette – civil rights activist and organizer

David Lane – president, The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands

Bob Moses – educator and civil rights activist

Janet Moses – physician and civil rights activist

Lateefah Simon – president, Akonadi Foundation

Andrew Young – politician, diplomat, activist


Sunnylands Center & Gardens will participate in this year’s Great California ShakeOut.

With this event, Sunnylands and participating organizations spread awareness about the science of earthquakes and earthquake safety and preparation.

All guests and staff will participate in an earthquake drill at 10:18 a.m. This drill will interrupt ALL Sunnylands activities for about 15 minutes.

Participants and activities are:

Lincoln Elementary students will visit other participants and play an earthquake preparedness game on the Great Lawn.

Palm Desert High School medical students will practice triage procedures and talk to public about their program.

Animal Samaritans will talk to public about how to prepare for an earthquake if you have pets.

Rancho Mirage CERT will share information regarding their emergency response program.

CVWD will share information on emergency preparation steps you can take regarding water, as well as their emergency response.

Reagan Elementary students will present their projects on the science of earthquakes.

Rocket Rules teaches emergency and safety information to children, ages 3 – 9, in a relatable and memorable way.

For more information regarding earthquake safety, please follow the links:

Families are encouraged to participate. Programming is appropriate for homeschoolers. For more information, please contact the education department at 760.202.2264 or education@sunnylands.org.

The trustees of The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands extend their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Barbara Bush.

The former first lady and her husband, President George H.W. Bush, were close friends of the Annenbergs and visited Sunnylands regularly during their years in the White House, attending private dinners, parties, and philanthropic events.  Mrs. Bush first signed the Sunnylands guest book in 1988.

“The trustees and staff deeply cherish Mrs. Bush’s friendship with the Annenbergs and her affection for Sunnylands,” said David J. Lane, president of the trust. “Her warmth and congeniality continue to inspire the people and places she visited.”

In March 1990, former President Bush and the first lady hosted an official White House dinner at Sunnylands in honor of then-Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu.  During that same weekend, the Bushes attended a ceremony at Sunnylands announcing the Annenbergs’ $50 million gift to the United Negro College Fund.

The couples’ fondness for one another was conveyed in a letter that Walter Annenberg sent to then-Vice President Bush in 1981. “If you will permit me,” he wrote, “it is always warmly pleasant to be in the presence of your distinguished wife.”

While her husband enjoyed fishing at Sunnylands, Mrs. Bush spent time with Mrs. Annenberg playing golf and relaxing at the estate.  Mrs. Bush became a permanent part of the Sunnylands landscape when her signature rose was incorporated into Mrs. Annenberg’s rose garden in the early 1990s. The Barbara Bush rose is arranged with roses commemorating other prominent visitors, including England’s Queen Elizabeth and First Ladies Nancy Reagan, Pat Nixon, and Laura Bush.

Guests at Sunnylands’ next Family Day will get a rare opportunity to enter the grounds of the historic Annenberg estate for free to see the spectacular bronze column that inspired Sunnylands’ newest art exhibition, Carved Narrative: Los Hermanos Chávez Morado.

The column, stretching 20 feet high, is a half-scale replica of the world-famous El Paraguas fountain found at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.  Both columns were created by José and Tomás Chávez Morado, brothers from Guanajuato, Mexico, who were among an elite group of artists who helped modern architects reshape their nation’s capital ahead of the 1968 Olympics.

Carved Narrative: Los Hermanos Chávez Morado brings more of the brothers’ works to Rancho Mirage nearly 50 years after their column was installed as the signature element of the Sunnylands entry court. Sixteen paintings by José and 21 sculptures by Tomás are on display at Sunnylands Center & Gardens. The exhibition is free to the public from 8:30 am to 4 pm, Thursday through Sunday until June 3, 2018.

In celebration of the exhibition, the public is invited to a Family Day on Sunday, Nov. 12, that explores artistic traditions from various regions of Mexico.  Hands-on activities and programs include art-making, games, and folk artist demonstrations.  The public may participate in the creation of a community mural with local artist Luiz Castro, and a performance by Conjunto Tenocelomeh will highlight son jarocho, folk music from southern Veracruz that mixes Spanish, indigenous, and African musical styles.

Throughout the day, guests who are at least 10 years old will be able to board shuttles for a quick trip behind the pink walls of Sunnylands, access that usually requires a tour ticket, to view the column in front of Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s midcentury modern home. The column is adorned with carved relief symbols that tell the story of Mexico, from its pre-Hispanic past to the 20th century.  (Entry into the house will not be permitted.)

Family Day activities, all free, take place from 9:30 am to 2 pm on Sunday, Nov. 12, at Sunnylands Center & Gardens, 37977 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage.


Sunnylands Center & Gardens reopens for a seventh season on Sept. 14 with a new exhibition featuring the artwork of the two brothers who jointly created one of the most famous landmarks in Mexico.

José and Tomás Chávez Morado

José and Tomás Chávez Morado, at left, working alongside the modernist architects who reshaped Mexico City prior to the 1968 Olympics, fashioned the 40-foot-tall El Paraguas fountain for the courtyard of the city’s National Museum of Anthropology. The brothers from Guanajuato also created a half-scale version for the entry court of Sunnylands, Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s winter estate in Rancho Mirage.

While the brothers’ work is well-known in Mexico, the exhibition, Carved Narrative: Los Hermanos Chávez Morado, is the first to display paintings by José and sculpture by Tomás together outside their homeland.  The 37 pieces are on loan from Tomás’ daughter, Adriana Marcela Chávez Anguiano, and the Instituto Estatal de la Cultura de Guanajuato.

“Distinguished by new scholarship and extraordinary artwork, this exhibition is the first outside Mexico to showcase the contributions of the Chávez Morado brothers,” said Wendy Kaplan, Department Head and Curator, Decorative Arts and Design, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “Their column at Sunnylands highlights the Annenbergs’ profound commitment to cross-border understanding, and Carved Narrative illuminates this seminal work in the context of these important artists’ careers in Mexico.”

Carved Narrative is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions in Southern California. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America. Sunnylands’ Carved Narrative exhibition will remain on display until June 3, 2018. A catalog of the exhibition is available in the Sunnylands Gift Shop. See a full press kit here. Comunicado de prensa aqui.

Films on the Great Lawn  also return opening weekend. The free, outdoor movie series connects to the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative with films celebrating Mexican heritage and the pursuit of the American dream.

My Family, the multi-generational, 1995 film starring Edward James Olmos, Jennifer Lopez, and Esai Morales, kicks off the series Friday, Sept 15.  The two other films are A Better Life on Sept. 22 and The Perfect Game on Sept. 29. Films start at 7:30 pm, with gates opening at 7 pm.

Celebrate the centenary of the death of influential artist Auguste Rodin (1841-1917), who created the Annenberg’s sculpture Eve. This special and limited access program will allow participants to spend time sketching the famed sculpture guided by an instructor while in the atrium of the historic estate. Restrictions apply and reservations are required. No previous art experience necessary. Adults only, no children permitted.

November 15 Instructor—Anna-Marie Veloz is an Adjunct Professor of Art at Victor Valley College, Victorville, and College of the Desert, Palm Desert. A resident of the High Desert, she earned a Master of Fine Arts from Azusa Pacific University in 2010. Veloz works in sculpture, drawing, photography and painting, and has been exhibiting her work in venues throughout Southern California since 2002.

Materials: Materials are not provided; participants are responsible for providing their own supplies.

Only the following materials are allowed:

The following items are prohibited:

Photography inside the estate is not allowed and participants will not have access to the rest of the house.

Celebrate the centenary of the death of influential artist Auguste Rodin (1841-1917), who created the Annenberg’s sculpture Eve. This special and limited access program will allow participants to spend time sketching the famed sculpture guided by an instructor while in the atrium of the historic estate. Restrictions apply and reservations are required. No previous art experience necessary. Adults only, no children permitted.

November 8 Instructor—Jessica Schiffman’s oil paintings are focused on both the landscape and the human figure in motion. A full-time artist for over two decades, her background also includes illustrations for sixteen children’s books, and recently, two murals. Jessica’s teaching experience includes the Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Program, as well as the Desert Art Center and the Create Center for the Arts. Her work can be seen at the Bill Anson Gallery in Cathedral City, and the Middle Ridge Gallery in Idyllwild. Jessica holds a BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Materials: Materials are not provided; participants are responsible for providing their own supplies.

Only the following materials are allowed:

The following items are prohibited:

Photography inside the estate is not allowed and participants will not have access to the rest of the house.


Start that nature journal you’ve been thinking about. Follow in the footsteps of botanist-explorers and learn how to observe and document plants through drawing. Learn about the history of botanical illustration and the fascinating world of plants in this two-hour interactive session. You will also learn how to turn quick, loose sketches into informative illustrations for your new journal.
Materials: Participants are invited to bring their own. Sketchbooks should not be larger than 9” x 12”. Alternatively, a clipboard with printer paper will work too. Pencils will be provided. Folding stool or camping stool to use in the garden suggested, but not necessary.

Instructor: Tania Marien is the founding editor of The Southern California Botanical Artist, the first newsletter of the Botanical Artists Guild of Southern California, and the founding editor of Artists’ Botany as well as the website Art Plantae. She has a Master’s degree in Biology & Student Learning and a professional certificate in Free choice learning. She has introduced the public to plants and botanical art at environmental education events, botanical gardens, museums, and science programs to encourage an interest in plants through art, science and interpretation.