Kristin O'Lear

Executive Director

Originally from Michigan, Kristin relocated to the Imperial Valley Desert from North Carolina in 2019.  Kristin's background is in the Civil War era. Her research focused on German American immigrants in the antebellum South and their role in Southern society during that period. She received her Master’s degree in History from East Carolina University in 2020. 

She believes strongly in facilitating history outside of academia and increasing the accessibility of history to the public. In her role as the Executive Director, Kristin will be innovating new and exciting exhibits about the history and cultures of the Valley, as well as working behind-the-scenes to preserve its history.

On her days off, you might find Kristin going for a run around town or hiking and exploring our Yuha Desert. You can contact her at

Luis Landeros

Education Coordinator & Museum Manager

A tiger at heart, Luis graduated from Imperial High School, in Imperial CA, in 2017. He is attending Imperial Valley College, where he is studying to be a mechanical engineer.  Luis has worked with the Imperial Valley Desert Museum since 2017 and is now serving as its Education Coordinator and Museum Manager.  From field trips, to public events, to special projects, Luis has experienced all aspects of IVDM and is dedicated in sharing his passion and energy with all students and guests to IVDM.

Luis is passionate about his work and has made it his mission to help local youth learn about the rich culture all around them. You can contact Luis at

Kody McLain

Curatorial Research Fellow

Kody is a California Native from Simi Valley, and a recent graduate from Johns Hopkins University’s Museum Studies program. He comes to the museum to take over as the new Curatorial Research Fellow.

With his BA in History and MA in Museum Studies, he hopes to help the museum with managing the digital collections and the creation of a future temporary exhibition. This is Kody’s first position in his museum career and he wants to turn his academic knowledge into practical experience.

In his first few months at the museum, Kody has helped students from SDSU and other historians in the region by locating records and documents to further their understanding of the Imperial Valley. If you are interested in conducting your own research, you can contact Kody at

Angelina Lutz

Education Specialist

Angelina has called Ocotillo home since she was seven years old, and growing up she always wondered when the Museum would open its doors. She graduated from Imperial High School in 2009, and went on to attend Grossmont College, where she graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in Social & Behavioral Sciences in 2014.

Angelina has taken multiple roles since her start at the Museum, and has overseen many education projects and programs. She is excited to see what the museum has next in store and to continue to be part of it. You can contact Angelina at

Julia Samaniego

Education Specialist

Coming from one desert to another, Julia is originally from Arizona and moved to Baja California a decade ago, and has now been living in the Imperial Valley for a couple of years. Julia is currently a student at San Diego State University in Calexico. As a history major and now an Education Specialist here at IVDM, Julia is passionate to learn the history of the region and its people, but also to share it with her community. You can contact Julia at