Deborah Szekely
Fellow of the Wellness Hall of Fame

Deborah Szekely


Company: Rancho La Puerta
Years: 1940 - present
Position: Co-founder
Location: Tecate, Baja California, Mexico


Rancho La Puerta is the original destination wellness resort.

Founded in 1940 by Deborah and Edmond Szekely it has grown from small beginnings as a 'health camp' to become one of the most well known, commercially successful, highly-respected and loved wellness properties in the world.

Rancho La Puerta's 4,000 acres, (3,000 of which are a nature preserve), include 40 miles of hiking trails through oak groves and up the slopes of 3,885ft Mount Kuchumaa, 32 acres of gardens landscaped by Sarah Livia Szekely Brightwood, and an organic farm with a cooking school. The resort lies at about 1,600ft elevation in a broad valley over the Mexican border from the US.

There are eleven gyms, four pools, a running track, tennis and Pickleball courts and basketball and volleyball courts.

Rancho La Puerta also has three full-service holistic spas, one for men and two for women.

Guests stay in 86 individually designed one-story 'casitas' (small houses) which are ranged around the resort to encourage guests to walk. No cars are allowed on the property.

On these strolls guests discover a library, juice bars, art studios, a labyrinth, reflexology path and three dozen hammocks slung between the oaks. Rancho La Puerta has countless indoor and outdoor gathering spaces.

The property will also add a residential element with the launch of Rancho La Puerta's The Residences in 2023.

Video: Rancho Puerta History
Website: Rancho La Puerta

Company: Golden Door
Years: 1958 - 1998
Position: Founder
Location San Marcos, California USA


The Golden Door is a luxury destination spa in San Marcos, near San Diego, founded by Deborah Szekely in 1958. A new location opened in 1975 a mile west of the original, with architecture and gardens based on the design of Japanese honjin, or inns.

The spa has regularly been voted number on destination spa in the world, vying for this title with Rancho La Puerta on a number of occasions.

Golden Door has been known since its early years for attracting famous individuals such as Natalie Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Burt Lancaster, Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Martha Stewart and Nicole Kidman.

Website: Golden Door

Company: United States Information Agency
Year: 1982


The United States Information Agency (USIA) operated from 1953 to 1999, was devoted to "public diplomacy" as a full service government PR agency with a staff of 10,000 in 150 countries 'burnishing' the reputation of the USA.

Company Inter-American Foundation
Years 1984 - 1990
Position President


The Inter-American Foundation is an independent foreign-assistance agency of the United States government that awards grants directly to grassroots organisations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (excluding Cuba).

As a US diplomat with the IAF, she traveled to virtually all democratic countries in the Southern Hemisphere and authored programme innovations that increased cost effectiveness and accountability of US development efforts.

Since beginning operations in 1971, the IAF has made over 5,000 grants totaling over US$650m.

Details: IAF Journal
Years 1991-1993
Position Co-founder and co-president


The Commission Garcia Robles – US-Mexico Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange – (COMEXUS) was founded on November 27, 1990, in Monterrey, Nuevo León, by means of a bilateral agreement, signed before the presidents of both countries.

The goal of the Commission is to promote mutual understanding between Mexico and the United States by means of educational and cultural exchanges.

In order to achieve this goal, COMEXUS offers distinct scholarship programs for students, researchers, university professors, public school teachers and administrators, and professionals of both countries.

Details: COMEXUS
Organisation Congressional Management Foundation (CMF)
Years 1984 to present


Deborah Szekely was responsible for the conception and launch of Setting Course – a congressional management guide, which is now in its 17th edition for the 117th Congress.

Setting Course is a comprehensive training and reference manual for newly-elected Congressional staff. CMF also provides ongoing research and training programs throughout the year.

Company: Eureka Communities
Year 1991
Position: Founder


A national training program for CEOs and leaders of non-profit organizations dedicated to CEO mentoring, teamwork, and building bridges.

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