About Us

BUSINESS LEADERS. EDUCATORS. BRIDGE BUILDERS. WE ARE A COALITION THAT BELIEVES IN THE FUTURE OF OUR YOUTH AND OUR COMMUNITY.

History

Your Future Is Our Business sprang out of a 1994 education committee formed by the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce. We were looking for innovative ways to help youth find their way to productive careers. In 1999, it was formed into a non-profit organization, sponsored and housed at Cabrillo College and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. Over the years, we have enriched the lives of thousands of students across Santa Cruz County.

Today, these students can be found throughout the county, working in every industry. It’s likely that you’ve worked with them, employed them, received the benefits of their talents, or availed yourself of their professional services. We’re proud of the students who we have inspired to follow their dreams to great careers. We have heartfelt appreciation of all of the businesses and professionals who have given their time to guide our youth. We look forward to collaborating with more of you in the future.

We are dedicated to connecting students to businesses and creating winning outcomes for both.

OUR Staff

MARY GAUKEL-FORSTER

MARY GAUKEL-FORSTER

Executive Director

Mary has been a teacher and administer in Santa Cruz for 29 years. Mary is passionate about helping students find their career pathway and was named the Alternative Schools Administrator of the Year in 1997, and Continuing Options Educator in 2012. In addition, Mary has served on the Cabrillo College Articulation Committee and California Department of Education Department Drop-out Prevention Team. She is currently on the steering committee for Santa Cruz College Commitment.

INTERNS

Morgan Matias

Marketing Intern
San Francisco State University

Goal(s) for YFIOB:
I would love to see Your Future Is Our Business become a commonly used tool for schools, workplaces, and students.  I think quality education is the most important thing we can provide for our youth. I believe giving students the opportunity to explore their future before graduation will lead to generations of success. That’s why I am so driven to make LINK a common tool for our community.

Sabrina Waldie

Operations Intern
Cabrillo Community College

Goal(s) for YFIOB:
Drive YFIOB to become a destination for internship, guide young adults towards potential occupation opportunities, Aide local companies and organizations in finding the best fit intern.

Elizabeth Brooks

Executive Director Intern
Middlebury Institute of International Studies

Goal(s) with YFIOB:
Education is one of the strongest tools at our disposal to affect positive societal change. I am excited to be working with YFIOB where this is at the heart of all we do. As executive director intern, I hope to hone my skills and knowledge in public administration while moving the mission of YFIOB forward so that the students of Santa Cruz County can explore and connect to careers of their dreams, bringing greater purpose and good to the communities they will touch.

Jack Lento-Edrich

Database Intern
UCSC

Goal(s) for YFIOB:
To build a comprehensive tool to allow the youth of Santa Cruz county to attain their career goals.


Coordinators

LAURA PEDUTO

Laura has coordinated career panels for YFIOB since 2009. She’s launched her career as an educator in elementary education and learning disabilities in 1969. She had formerly worked as a paralegal in New York City. An internationally certified water aerobics and water yoga instructor for 20 years, Laura is a lifelong learner. She believes that if we give of ourselves to the children of Santa Cruz County, they will give back to the community as intelligent, well-informed passionate leaders of the future.

COCO RANER-WALTER

Coco joined the YFIOB team in 2010. Owner of the interior design firm Fine Designs By Coco in Ben Lomond, she has been active in the business community for over 30 years. She brings extensive organization skills to YFIOB, having acted as the chairperson on the San Lorenzo Valley Bond Oversight Committee for three years.

Our Dedicated Board

tish-denevan

TISH DENEVAN

Human Resources
Santa Cruz Seaside Company

With 30 years in the Amusement Park Industry and over 20 years as a HR professional, Tish is currently the Corporate Trainer for the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. She has given numerous presentations to local high schools on “How to Apply and Interview for Jobs”. She plans and organizes a yearly High School Staff Appreciation party that is now in its 20th year.

WINSTON WHITTAKER

Architect / Designer
Whittaker Building Design

Winston is an Architectural Designer and Consultant whose designs and drawings have been published in Progressive Architecture and Interior Design magazines. Educated in New York City, Rome, Italy, and Mexico, he has over forty years of experience as a private Architectural Designer and Consultant. Winston is an advocate of strong minds and bodies. He has been an Instructor in the martial arts for over forty years. He has authored two books related to martial arts and architecture. He has been on the YFIOB Board since 2008.

teresa-thomae

TERESA THOMAE

Director
Small Business Development Center

Teresa has led the Cabrillo College Small Business Development Center for over 20 years. She currently serves on the Board of El Pajaro Community Development Corporation and Leadership Santa Cruz County. Teresa is a former Aptos Chamber of Commerce “Woman of the Year” and has won numerous awards for her work empowering entrepreneurs to grow their small businesses. She has been a member of the YFIOB Board since 2006.

larry-favor

LARRY FAVOR

Contractor
Favor General Building Contractor

Larry has created landmark buildings in conjunction with renowned home designers and skilled architects in the Santa Cruz, Monterey, and the San Francisco Bay Area, for over 30 years. In addition to serving on our board he also serves on the boards of “Christians In Commerce” – Bringing Ethics And Accountability To the Marketplace and the “Pajaro Valley Shelter Services” -Providing Transitional Housing And Structure For the Homeless.

nikki-holtzinger

NIKKI HOLTZINGER

Branch Manager
Bay Federal Credit Union

Nikki has 14 years of experience in the Financial Banking Industry and is currently the AVP Branch Manager at the Capitola Branch of Bay Federal Credit Union. A member of the Capitola/Soquel Chamber of Commerce, she is passionate about volunteering in local community events and is strong supporter of organizations that support our youth.

keith-serverson

KEITH SEVERSON

Marketing Communications Manager
Graniterock

Keith has been with Graniterock for over 20 years handling marketing services and communications. Prior to entering Graniterock, Keith was an entrepreneur for 20 years. Keith has a degree in Art History from The University of Texas. His interests are in art, food, and sport–running in particular. Keith is active in our community and sits on the YMCA Board of Managers for Watsonville, and the YMCA Board of Directors for the Central Coast.

EMILY WHITE

R&D Project Manager, Driscoll’s

Emily began her time at Driscoll’s in Human Resources; working her way up from an intern to helping build the talent development program as a Talent Specialist and managing the University Relations program. After 4 years in HR and completing an international assignment at Driscoll’s European headquarters Emily joined the R & D department as the Project Manager managing the company’s portfolio of international research projects to develop the finest berries. Emily has a passion for helping our youth and enabling them to discover their full potential.

Keisha Frost

KEISHA FROST

Director of Community Giving & Marketing
United Way of Santa Cruz County

Keisha has spent over a decade in the nonprofit sector, working for national organizations such as Girl Scouts, YMCA and United Way. Keisha values community engagement, having served on several boards and committees including Dignity Health – Dominican Hospital Community Advisory, Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast, Santa Cruz NEXT, Leadership Santa Cruz Development Committee. Keisha has been instrumental in creating The Emerging Leaders Circle. The Circle is the next generation of great civic and business leaders in Santa Cruz County.

BETSY ANDERSON

BETSY ANDERSON

Executive Director, Museo Eduardo Carrillo

Board Member
Arts Council Santa Cruz County

Betsy Andersen is the Executive Director of Museo Eduardo Carrillo, an online museum, since its inception in 2000. Betsy is also Secretary to the Board of Directors of Arts Council Santa Cruz County.  In collaboration with the Pajaro Valley Arts Council, Betsy brings the art of Carrillo and other contemporary Chicano/a artists to teens to inspire them to consider the many careers available in and dependent upon the arts.Teaching and developing inspiring programming in the arts for young people is her passion. She maintains an art studio in Santa Cruz.

Kelli Green

KELLI GREENE

Global Philanthropy and Community Relations Leader
Plantronics

Kelli currently leads global philanthropy and community relations programs at Plantronics, where she also developed the company’s university and intern programs. Before joining Plantronics in 2011, she built out Yahoo’s intern program. She enjoys conducting workshops and mentoring students to achieve their personal, education and professional goals. Kelli is a strong supporter of local programs that enable next generation talent to access opportunities for wellness, education and professional growth and has been active with Second Harvest, United Way and Habitat for Humanity in Santa Cruz County.

Nisha Patel

NISHA PATEL

Principal Personnel Analyst, County of Santa Cruz

Nisha currently manages the Employment Services Division of the Personnel Department. She leads three recruitment teams serving County departments in the area of recruitment, examination and selection for close to 600 different types of jobs. She is also a member of the administrative team for Santa Cruz County Learns, the County’s on-line professional development program. Nisha is a Certified Selection Analyst from the CA State Personnel Board and has over 17 years of experience in the field of personnel. Her work experience includes serving as the Personnel Officer for the Health Services Agency and working for the Human Services and the Parks departments.

Murry Schekman

MURRY SCHEKMAN

Murry Schekman recently retired from the position of Assistant Superintendent, in charge of Secondary Education in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. He has served as Principal of six different schools, which included the opening of Salinas’ newest high school, Everett Alvarez High School, in 1995. Murry also served as a Principal of three middle schools and a continuation high school. HIs most recent principalship was at Watsonville High School from 2006-2010.

Mark Hodges

MARK HODGES

Senior Director of The Regional Occupational Program (ROP)

Mark has served Santa Cruz County as a teacher and administrator for 22 years. He is a graduate of Santa Cruz High School and UCSC. In his position as Senior Director of ROP, Mark oversees 75 ROP teachers and over 125 career technical education classes. The ROP program works closely with YFIOB to create work-based learning opportunities for over 1,500 students annually. Mark is devoted to integrating curriculum and connecting young people to the world of work through internships, mentorships, and real-world work experiences in the Santa Cruz community.

Shareen Bell

SHAREEN BELL

Past Executive Director
Shareen joined YFIOB in 2011 with the belief that time invested in our community’s youth, will propel them to contribute to Santa Cruz County’s overall well being in a lot of different ways. As adults, we can mentor, guide, inspire, and educate our youth to better understand how to take the future into their own hands. By building successful and gratifying careers, today’s youth will become tomorrow’s leaders in our thriving Santa Cruz community. Shareen is passionate, invested, and advocates for career education for all middle and high schools students in Santa Cruz County.


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