About Us

Our story

Your Future Is Our Business was formed in 1993 by a Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce education committee. Ever since our mission is to provide every Santa Cruz County student with opportunities to discover a fulfilling and successful career. In the modern, shifting workplace, students need to make informed decisions that empower them to forge careers. We bring schools and businesses together to support students in becoming Santa Cruz County’s next generation of workers. It’s all about providing young people clear direction in their lives.

We implement work-based learning, the educational strategy providing students with real-life experiences and the opportunity to improve their academic and technical skills while developing their employability. Our work includes building a countywide network of community leaders and businesses who see the talent and potential in our students. With this incredible support, we host monthly career panels and expos at various schools, ranging from K-12th grade. Students receive a real-world setting along with practical advice on planning a career path. We are fully staffed by college interns, supervised by a part-time executive director, all coordinating together to successfully run a non-profit organization.




Meet the team


YFIOB Staff and Board Members

Our talented and energetic college interns have brought new ideas, initiatives, and organization to our mission. I celebrate that Your Future Is Our Business provides work-based learning opportunities for college interns as they contribute back to the community. YFIOB supports the future of our students and our county. I am truly grateful to be doing this work with our college interns.

Mary Gaukel

Executive Director

831-818-6762

  • Shareen Bell
  • Stacey Smith
  • Chris McGriff
  • Dave Weiss

The Team

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Board of Directors

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Winston Whittaker

Winston George Anthoney Whittaker was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, in the Caribbean Islands. Winston and his sister Angela were brought to New York City, NY, to live with their mother, already a Citizen of the United States of America and were raised by their uncle, an architect, and an aunt, a devout Christian. Winston was educated in Architecture formally, in New York City, with Special Design Studies in Rome, Italy, and a Thesis in Mexico. Winston also has training and education as an Instructor in Okinawa Shaolin Karate-Jutsu, with over forty years of Special Studies in Okinawa, Japan, and all over the world. Many of his students in Karate-Jutsu, also became clients in Architecture, and many of his clients and their children, also become his students in Karate-Jutsu. Winston’s architectural designs, and drawings, have been celebrated and published, in Architectural Magazines, Interiors, several books, and New York City Newspapers. Winston has written two books about these two Disciplines which dictates the philosophy with which he lives his life. Today he lives bi-coastally, in New York City, and at his home base in Santa Cruz, CA, where his two lovely daughters were born.

Murry Schekman

Murry Schekman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and moved to Southern California with his father when he was 6 so he didn’t have to shovel snow in the winter.  Murry has held several careers such as being a teacher, counselor, admin and part time teacher at San Jose State University in 2004. Murry began full time teaching after retiring from the world of K-12 education in 2015.  Murry earned his Masters in Education Leadership and Counselor Education as well as the credentials and is now teaching at San Jose State University. He serves on the board of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and is also a member of the Rotary Club of Watsonville and joined Your Future Is Our Business four years ago because of his commitment to Your Future Is Our Business. 

What career advice or tip(s) do you have for young people “”Be clear on what you want and where it is!”

Amy Nama

Amy was born in Santa Clara, California and lived in San Jose, California until she was 3 three years old. At fifteen, Amy began attending Santa Cruz High and graduated from SHS in 1990 where she then continued her education at Cabrillo College and then transferred to San Diego State University. Amy studied Early Childhood Education in college and worked for After School Daycare in the before and after school daycare program as a teacher working with K-6 grade children. After college, Amy became a Recruiter for the local staffing company Express Professionals where she met and husband Jeremy, a certified arborist. Amy and Jeremy started to start a tree service company, Nature First Tree Care In partnership with another couple which has been successfully acquired by Davey Tree. After the acquisition of their business, Amy became a contractor with Central California Alliance for Health working in recruitment. 

Amy currently works at the Small Business Development Center at Cabrillo College which provides free advising to small business owners in Santa Cruz County. Amy is a continuous learner who received her notary certification last year and is currently enrolled in Spanish and a business class at Cabrillo, with the goal of becoming bi-lingual by the end of 2020. Amy joined YFIOB in December of 2019 and feels passionate about helping youth and this organization aligns with her ability to help support them with their career paths.

“My advice for young people is to use the resources available to help you on your journey to finding the career you love. Reach out to your counselors for advice and do the work needed to get you to your goals. Share your goals with a friend you can help you keep them.”

Mark Hodges

Mark was born in the heartland of America, Oklahoma City and raised in Oakland and Berkeley. Mark moved to Santa Cruz and attended and graduated from Santa Cruz High School. He then attended San Francisco State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Technology. Shortly after graduating from SFSU, Mark enrolled in the Teacher Credential Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz and earned a single subject credential in Industrial Technology with an emphasis in Drafting. 22 years later, he earned a Masters of Arts in Education Leadership at San Jose State University. In 2017 Mark was selected as the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators (CAAASA) Educator of the Year. After a 20 year career as a classroom teacher, he has spent the last 11 years in administration as the Director of the Career Technical Education Partnership (formerly the Regional Occupational Program).

Mark joined the YFIOB Board in 2016. In addition to serving as a Board member for YFIOB, Mark also serves as a Board member for the Santa Cruz County Workforce Development Board, Project Bike Tech, Gino Panelli Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Bytheal Ratliff Memorial Scholarship Foundation, the Santa Cruz High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, and as a member of the Santa Cruz Police Chief’s Advisory Committee.  

“In my position as the Director of the county’s CTE program, it has always been crucial that I work directly with YFIOB in creating and supporting work-based learning opportunities for students. My career advice is to follow your passions, always work smart, and be adaptable to the ever-changing workplace.”

Tish Denevan

Tish was born and raised in San Jose, California. Although she was raised in San Jose, her second home was Santa Cruz where her parents and grandparents always vacationed near the beach and Boardwalk.  Tish has always been attracted to the recreation field and having fun so it was natural for her to jump at the opportunity to work as a ride operator at the boardwalk that when a friend of mine from our Cabrillo Basketball team told her about the opening. 35 years later, Tish is still thrilled to work at a business that creates, playful moments, joy and fun filled memories for its guests.  Cabrillo College led her to San Jose State where she focused on a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies. Tish has worked many different jobs at the Boardwalk had the opportunity to be hired in the Human Resources Department as a corporate trainer, interviewer and currently as a Community Employment Coordinator. Tish holds a Senior Professional Certification in Human Resources. Tish is also a competitive bodysurfer and in 2019, she placed 2nd in the Huntington Beach Bodysurfing Contest.  

“Why did I join YFIOB? As the YFIOB representative for the Boardwalk, I am pleased to say that our company has been a part of YFIOB since its inception.  Our connection with YFIOB is a natural fit because we are not only the largest employers of youth in Santa Cruz County but we actively promote and encourage our staff and local students in their career goals.  My advice for young people….You’re young and your tastes are going to evolve. Let your career search evolve too. Try out different jobs to see what appeals to you. “

Aki Williams

Aki Williams was born in Southern California to vagabond parents and spent the first ten years of her life traveling the western states of America in the backseat of her parent’s car where she experienced eclectic living situations such as fishing towns, mining towns, and even an Indian reservation. Aki first moved to Santa Cruz county in 1983, and have lived here since, leaving only for schooling and internships in the East Bay and San Diego area.

Aki began her career track in healthcare through the ROP program in Santa Cruz which gave her the desire to continue her education in emergency medical services, then nursing. Since graduating from the Regents Nursing Program through the University of the State of New York at Albany, Aki has been a Flight Nurse working for California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR), program director with Crossover Health at Facebook where she created an onsite healthcare program on campus, and shortly afterwards, Aki founded Defib This with her husband Alex and now serves as co-owner and Chief Operations Officer, and program director with Defib This EMT Training Program at our Santa Cruz location and the Bear EMT Training Program for the pre-medical students at our EMT training program on the UC Berkeley campus. Aki joined YFIOB after attending the YFIOB awards luncheon last Spring (2019) and was immediately impressed with YFIOB’s mission. She was devising her letter of intent to the Executive Director when she received an email from Mary, asking her to join! 

“My advice to young people starting out on their career rack would be: Achieve something towards your goal, every day. Research, study or planning. Forward, is a pace!”

Carolyn Auman

Carolyn was born in Fort Benning, GA (a military base).  Her moved around but settled in Northern California for her middle school and high school years. Carolyn attended Carondelet High School in Concord and progressed to the University of Oregon where she earned a B.A. in Telecommunications. She also holds Executive MBA Certificate from University of California,  Davis and Project Management Certificate from the University of California, Davis Extension. Carolyn has worked in the legal, data storage and telecommunications arenas and is presently a Senior Account Manager (Digital Channels) for Poly (formerly Plantronics). Carolyn is part of Poly’s Santa Cruz County of Education Joint Explorer Stem Program and Scotts Valley High School Parent Club. Carolyn joined Your Future Is Our Business as a board member in September 2016 because YFIOB’s vision to connect kids with opportunities and paths provides her the chance to help the Santa Cruz Youth in a lifelong journey. 

“Career advice tip for youth: Show up and be present.  It can make all the difference.”

Betsy Andersen

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1956 Betsy Miller Andersen had access to first rate art galleries and the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art at the Tar Pits throughout her youth.

The innovative UCSC campus drew her to Santa Cruz in 1973 for study in visual art  where she was fortunate to meet many mentors in art who inspire her to this day. To foster a flexible schedule and to combine her interest in food with a career after graduating, Ms. Andersen cooked in local restaurants as a chef. She launched a new kind of culinary project-personal chef where she prepared food in people’s homes based on her menu plans and the clients purchasing the food. Currently, she is Executive Director of Museo Eduardo Carrillo, one of only a handful of online museums world wide, and the only artist endowed foundation in the US to represent a Mexican American artist.  She has co-developed interdisciplinary projects based on expanding student’s exposure to Latinx art through personal narrative writing- The Hablamos Juntos Project. In addition, she is involved in artist legacy work by serving as a cultural executor. She accomplishes her mission by placing art in public and private collections and ensuring exposure for these artists.Ms. Andersen was honored to join the board of YFIOB because she believes in its mission to help young people connect to their potential.

“I encourage students to explore the unexpected opportunities which show up and may become their life long passion.”

Emily Jacobson

Emily was born outside of LA, but largely grew up in Portland, Oregon. Emily has a dual Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Intensive Psychology from UCSC. Emily has spent her entire career at Driscoll’s, first starting as an intern in Training and Development in Human Resources during her senior year of college and she hired full-time as the Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice President of Global HR. She then went on to become a talent development Specialist helping to craft the companies talent programs and then managing the intern program before moving to the Netherlands to work at Driscoll’s European Headquarters.  Upon returning to the U.S. in 2014, Emily switched over to the Research and Development Department where she founded the Project Management function, creating a program that was tailored to science and discovery. Emily is now the Program Manager for R&D at Driscoll’s focusing on their Innovation programs and Next Generation Breeding programs. She works in the Agriculture Tech space and manages the majority of Driscoll’s tech portfolios as well as their Molecular science program and strategic initiatives. Emily is also a mentor at Diamond Tech High School as well as a yoga instructor teaching at Driscoll’s and occasionally local studios. Emily joined YFIOB in 2016 because she is passionate about giving our youth the practical tools they need to be successful and happy in the world. 

There are such a wide variety of careers out there that you rarely get exposed to in school and having that knowledge could fuel your passion for learning and help you better tailor your future goals.  Have a goal, but be flexible. You never know where the adventure of life may take you.  I never thought the career I have now existed even when I was in college, and I love it so incredibly much.  Always be open to new possibilities and experiences.”

Michael Marheineke

Michael was born near St. Louis, Missouri but moved to the Los Angeles area at the age 6. While attending grammar school, Michael enjoyed learning to play trumpet and singing in choirs from the age of 7. At 14, Michael left home to attend St. Francis Junior Seminary High School in Watsonville and followed the path toward priesthood for the next 13 years. Three years of that training was spent as a jr. high and high school teacher back at St. Francis. Michael received a BA in philosophy with a minor in classical languages – very useful, for all the ensuing work he did.  After changing careers, Michael worked several jobs – pest control, insurance sales, street artist, cable car driver, bus driver / recreation director / music teacher – before going on to work for Graniterock for 38+ years. Now retired, Michael does art, helps with music at the Salesian grammar school in Corralitos, and has continued to be involved in music as a church musician in several communities, the last 42 at Holy Eucharist in Corralitos where he plays guitar and leads the congregational singing. Michael joined in Sept. of 2017 and has enjoyed being involved with this organization. 

“My advice to young people would be: if you can find a field about which you are passionate, and can work in that field, amazing! Enjoy and do a good job. BUT, wherever your career takes you, try to enjoy your work, be a contributing employee, and always do more than you are asked.”

Nicole Correa

Nicole was born and raised in Watsonville, CA. She started working at Bay Federal Credit Union when she was 19 years old and a teen mom to 3 year old daughter, and has been at that job ever since. Bay Federal has their own internal certification and training programs, that has allowed her to move up in her career. She has worked at every branch of Bay Federal, but is currently the AVP Branch Manager at the largest branch in Capitola. She has won multiple Branch Manager Awards, Service Excellence Award, and Sales and Service Awards.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her three kids by going on walks, watching shows and movies, going to the beach, eating lots of yummy food, and just being together. Nicole joined YFIOB over 7+ years ago. 

“I feel truly blessed to work for an organization that gives back to the community and grows their employees.  I got involved with YFIOB because one of my co-workers, who was sitting on the board, was relocating to a different state. She was so passionate about YFIOB, and she thought it would be a good match for me to fill in her spot. Boy, was she right! This organization is amazing, and the students’ lives that they are impacting is immeasurable. My career advice is: Look at every mistake in life as an opportunity to learn, grow, mature, and evolve. Only you, can own your destiny, so grab ahold of it and shine.

Nisha Patel

Nisha was born in London and moved to the United States at the age of 1.  She was raised in Santa Cruz and attended UCSC and later graduated from UC Davis.  As a teen, Nisha worked at the Boardwalk for Whiting’s Food Concessions and later for a local Pharmacy in Aptos.  After graduating, she worked for the County Parks Department as a Recreation Leader and later for the Human Services Department as an Employment Training Specialist for the Summer Youth Program. Nisha has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development with a minor in Sociology and Education and has been working in the human resources field for over 20 years with the County of Santa Cruz. Nisha is a certified Selection Analyst with CA State Personnel Board and is a Credentialed CA County Senior Executive with the CA State Association of Counties.  She is currently working towards her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification. Nisha enjoys spending time with her family and has served on the G-Ball Board (local girls basketball league) and has been an active member of the Bhartiya Cultural Association where she engages in many Indian traditional activities. Nisha joined YFIOB in 2016 to help youth explore various career opportunities especially in the government sector. Her advice to youth is “Maintain a positive outlook as you are exploring life to find the right career for yourself…build a large network to increase your resources.”

David Wright 

David Wright is the VP of Operations at Elements Manufacturing in Santa Cruz. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from San Diego State University and a BA from the University of the Pacific. He’s bilingual Spanish and a Rotary International Scholar.

Dave is a co-founder of Santa Cruz County Friends of the Rail & Trail and served on their board of directors until December 2015. Other nonprofit work has included CEO of the Santa Cruz Chapter of the American Red Cross, Executive Director of SLV Recycling and volunteer with Amigos de las Americas. In his spare time, Dave plays the guitar, teaches at Cabrillo College, and does welding and millwork projects. He and his wife have two children and have lived in Santa Cruz County since 1991.

Gerlinde Brady

Coming Soon

Keisha Frost

Keisha was born and raised in Los Angeles, graduating from George Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles. As one of the top track & field high school student athletes in the nation, Keisha attended the University of Washington where she earned a B.A. in Speech Communications while balancing college life as an All-American student athlete. Her passion for creating healthy and thriving communities has given her 20 years of incredible experiences throughout the United States serving in several senior executive leadership positions with Girl Scouts, YMCA, and the United Way. In 2006, Keisha was part of a team that designed the nation’s first citywide system of afterschool programming, the AfterZone, with the Providence After School Alliance. In 2018, Keisha became the CEO of the United Way of Santa Cruz County, after serving as the Director of Resource Development & Marketing and Associate Executive Director for the organization. Keisha’s commitment to community inspires her to serve on several local steering committees, advisory councils and boards including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Dignity Health Dominican Hospital Community Advisors, Digital NEST Advisory, Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast, Monarch Services, UC Santa Cruz Community Advisory Group, and Your Future Is Our Business. 

“I joined YFIOB because I want to pay it forward – I proudly stand on the shoulders of caring adults whom joined my parents in mentoring, guiding, and empowering me to tap into my greatest potential. I know what it’s like to be connected to your community because caring adults provided an authentic space for you to use your voice and talents to make lasting change. YFIOB gives me the opportunity to be the encouraging leader cheering for our Santa Cruz County youth. I encourage young people to listen to their passion and follow it – they are the authors of their future plans and goals, be grounded in who you are and write your story!”

Former Board Members

Keisha Frost-CEO United Way of Santa Cruz County, Alan Stormes-Founder Elements Manufacturing Inc., Ralph Peduto (More names coming soon)

In Memoriam

Alan Stormes, 1957 - 2019

  • Alan Osama Stormes passed away on July 14, 2019 after a brief illness. He will forever be remembered by his family, friends and coworkers for his brilliant intellect, friendly demeanor, energetic work ethic, generous spirit and irreverent humor.
  • Alan was born in Redland, California on August 16, 1957. He loved cars, airplanes, machines and, above all, woodworking. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to form Elements Manufacturing in Santa Cruz, California. Alan’s knowledge of machines, computers and construction enabled him to build a company of over 30 employees and hundreds of business partners that all work together providing commercial millwork to Silicon Valley businesses.
  • In 2002, Alan met the love of his life, Kristy. Together they cared for one another, their family members and the many people in the community who came to trust and depend on them for guidance, love, friendship and support.
  • To many of us, Alan was more than a friend or a coworker, he was a teacher. We sought his help, his ideas and his guidance on everything from business to manufacturing to life in general. In addition to building and teaching complex projects, Alan loved to fly small airplanes. In recent years he learned to fly gliders and piloted as an active member of the Hollister Gliding Club.

Intern Alumni

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yourfutureisourbusiness@gmail.com

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399 Encinal St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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