Darrell Tucci (right) with Independent editor/publisher Jimmy Boegle (left) and the McCallum Theatre's Jeffrey Norman (center). Credit: Lani Garfield

Darrell Tucci moved to Palm Springs nine years ago to become the chief development officer for the Desert AIDS Project, now called DAP Health.

In the intervening years, not only has Tucci helped DAP Health expand to serve more Coachella Valley residents; Tucci himself has made a significant mark on the community, earning accolades including being one of Palm Springs Life’s 40 Under Forty; the 2015 State Farm Good Neighbor Award from Equality California; and being named one of Desert Charity News’ men of philanthropy. I should also disclose that he’s become a close friend of mine, and is a Supporter of the Independent.

Tomorrow is his last day with DAP Health; he’s leaving to become the vice president of development for the Movement Voter Project. He asked if the Independent would publish his farewell letter to the community … and here it is. —Jimmy Boegle

Dear Greater Palm Springs Community,

Nine years ago this month, I moved to Palm Springs and joined Desert AIDS Project as the new chief development officer. I walked in wide-eyed, ready for a new adventure, feeling I had been called to service. I felt I was honoring the legacy of both my childhood friend Leon, and my maternal grandfather—each lost to AIDS in the early ’90s.

Never did I imagine I would be in that role for nine years. After all, development professionals, on average, last two to three years in a position.

Never did I imagine I would meet hundreds, if not thousands, of truly lovely, compassionate, generous people.

Never did I imagine that my colleagues and board members would become like an extended family.

Never did I imagine that Desert AIDS Project, now DAP Health, would be a never-ending source of inspiration—never remaining idle, constantly innovating and finding ways to care for more people in need. DAP now serves 8,000 more people each year than when I started nine years ago.

Never did I imagine that I would feel the love of a community both personally and professionally—a community that trusted me with their charitable investments and one that stood by my side and supported me through spinal surgery.

Never did I imagine I would receive accolades for doing what I have always loved—connecting generous people to investing in life-changing, community-shaping work. My team and colleagues really deserve these accolades. I am so grateful to all of them.

Never did I imagine there would be another opportunity that would call me away from this work. DAP Health’s work continues to inspire me today. In fact, it inspires me more today than nine years ago. However, despite my devotion to HIV/AIDS work and providing health care for low-income people (healthcare is a human right), I also have a broader passion for an equitable and just society for all—especially marginalized people.

I cannot fight the urge to help protect and advance our democracy while working to dismantle systems of bigotry, homophobia, institutionalized racism and countless other injustices. My new role as vice president of development at the Movement Voter Project will give me the opportunity to do just that.

It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be of service to DAP Health and the Coachella Valley for the last nine years. My heart is full of gratitude.

To those who donated $5, $3 million, or any amount in between, thank you!

To those of you who donated one hour or 1,000 hours, thank you!

To those who worked side by side with me on staff or on the board, thank you!!

And, to my chosen family (you know who you are), thank you for being so generous in supporting my passions and for ALWAYS having my back!

As a development professional, I ask for things for a living, and before I go, I have one more ask: Please continue to support DAP Health, its staff and its 10,000-plus patients. Please give of your time, your talent and your resources. Do so generously. I will join you in continuing to do so personally. Together we will ensure that the amazing safety net—upon which thousands of people rely—remains strong and continues to grow.

Since I developed so many friendships in the desert, and I only live two hours away, I’ll be around frequently. So, this is not a farewell; instead, I’ll see you soon! …

With an overflowing heart, thank you.


19 replies on “Community Voices: Before He Leaves, DAP Health’s Departing Chief Development Officer Has One More Ask”

  1. Darrell, You will be greatly missed. I became a major donor to DAP 8 years ago mainly because of our first meeting at the Bonaventure Hotel downtown LA. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
    With love and adoration – Valerie Milano

  2. Congratulations on everything you achieved during your years with DAP. I’m sure it’s going to be tough for someone else to fill your shoes. Good luck and best wishes in your new position.

  3. Darrell, congratulations on your new venture! I know for certain that you will be missed at DAP Health, but what a legacy you have left. I am so excited for you as you head out on this next exciting chapter of your life! Thank you for who you are in the world … it is a much better place with you in it!

  4. You begin your new adventure with our support, love, and best wishes. We know you will continue to improve and enrich the lives of everyone you come into contact with. Angels walk amongst us. ❤️ Dottie and Maude

    1. Thank you my friends. Love you guys. I simply helped try to support the amazing work you helped fund years before I arrived. You two are indeed angels who walk among all us…in fabulous high heel shoes! ❤️

  5. Thank you Darrell for your years of service and contributions to this community. You will be sorely missed at DAP Health! But I know that you will do many more great things as you embark on this next chapter of your life, and I wish you the best.

  6. You made a Big impact on our little community. It has been a pleasure to be your friend Darrell, and to see you work in our community in a myriad of ways to make it better.

  7. Congratulations on your achievements and your wonderful work at DAP. You have compassion for all people and that will serve us all as you embark on your next endeavor. You are appreciated. Thank you for continuing your food work. Regards, Barbara

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