Your Future Is Our Business was formed by members of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce education committee in 1993. YFIOB became a non-profit shortly after and ever since, our mission has been 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 post-secondary interns, supervised by an executive director, all coordinating together to successfully run a non-profit organization.
Meet the team
YFIOB Staff and Board Members
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Yvette Lopez Brooks (she/her)
Yvette Brooks is from San Jose, CA and the first Latina Mayor for the City of Capitola. In 2006 Yvette, received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Education from the University of Santa Cruz. Yvette is a wife and proud mother.
Yvette has dedicated nearly her entire life to youth in the community. She previously worked at the Santa Cruz County Office of Education for nearly 15 years and since her tenure on City Council, has created strong policy with a focus on equity. She successfully created a Code of Conduct, allocated funding for Anti Bias training for Council Members and Staff and banned the sales of flavored tobacco products.
Yvette currently serves as a member on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Executive Board of Directors for the League of Cities, LAFCO, Capitola’s Finance Advisory Council, The Children’s Network, Childhood Advisory Council and the Central Coast Early Childhood Advocacy Network. As a policy maker, Yvette is committed to building a safe and healthy community.
Kim Espinosa (she/hers)
I was born and raised in Santa Cruz along with my parents. I graduated from Soquel High School where I volunteered and worked for the Live Oak School District for over 20 years. I recently retired from LOSD and am currently working with Your Future Is Our Business and as a bookkeeper for Sea to Sky Farm. I’ve been married for 30 years, I have two grown children, 1 cat and a new puppy we just adopted.
Patrick Harte (he/his)
I was born and raised in Santa Cruz County. I am a lover of most outdoor activities, whether it be in the ocean or in the mountains. A big part of my life over the past 20 years has been bicycles, whether it was racing downhill early on to riding a gravel bike these days. I am back in school after graduating from Soquel High a long time ago and I’m so grateful to be back in academia. I am pursuing a degree in Environmental Science from UCSC with an emphasis on joining UCSC’s Science Communication program. I joined Ksquid at the beginning of the summer as an intern and it has been awesome! I have enjoyed producing a couple of radio features, DJing a music show, I’ve conducted interviews surrounding the fires and on election night, as well as guest hosting The Cutting Edge Show. I am thankful for the opportunity to join what sounds like a fabulous program and group of people with Your Future Is Our Business as the new host for the What To Be radio show. I look forward to interviewing some great people and helping grow this organization.
Mary Gaukel Forster (she/her)
Mary has spent 40 years as a distinguished educator and administrator, a career in which she regularly went above and beyond to help English learners and continuation schools within K-12. She has served as principal at a variety of schools in Santa Cruz County and was Executive Director of YFIOB from 2015-2019. She received Red Cross Central Coast Educator Hero Award in 2018 and continues to stay involved in the community. She is currently in charge of Educational Partnerships with YFIOB, is a CASA advocate, and busy grandma/teacher to her grandkids.
Hello, I’m Elayne Carbajal, I’m from Long Beach, CA. I am in my second year at UCSC where I study Environmental Studies/Biology. I am a first- generation student who has always been very determined to pursue higher education. I enjoy spending time outside in nature, learning about new ways to live more sustainably and educating others about native plants.
I would love to pursue a career in Natural Resource Management, Forestry, or Conservation/Restoration Ecology.
Samuel Hernandez is from East Los Angeles, CA and a first generation college student. Samuel is studying at UCSC and plans to double major in Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology and Legal Studies. As a third year student Samuel is the current vice president of the Men’s Club Volleyball team, a student mentor in the organization K.A.M.P, and is involved in molecular biology research.
Samuel is interested in pursuing a career in the Health Science and Medical technology sector and hopes to either go into dentistry or virology.
My name is Denilson Perez, I’m a first-gen college student. I have an Afro-Mexican background. My major is Latin American & Latino Studies/Sociology and a minor in Language Studies. I love going on morning runs to the beach and practicing one of the six languages I speak during my free time. In the future I’d like to work and live abroad. I want a career that allows me to help and connect with others so perhaps social work, educator, or even journalism could be possible options for me.
Board of Directors
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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.
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.”
Cristine Chopra is the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz County College and Career Collaborative. She was born and raised in Dana Point CA. She moved to northern CA when she enrolled at UC Santa Cruz where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She began her career in education in 1996 as a high school English teacher in San Jose before moving to Seattle. While in Seattle she served as the Director of the Collaborative for Instructional Development at the Washington State GEAR UP Project as well as supporting the Center for Curriculum Transformation and the Center for Multicultural Education. Dr. Chopra earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington in 2014. She has taught undergraduate and graduate students at UCSC, and CSUMB but is happy to have come back to K-12 work. Cristine strives to assist districts to think of their students’ futures beyond high school graduation and bridge the divide between K-12 and postsecondary institutions. She is a new board member with YFIOB but has partnered with them for 5 years through her work at the County Office of Education and appreciates the multiple opportunities YFIOB provides for students to find their passion and path early in life.
Her advice to young people is to explore career options early, know what it takes to get there, and leave every opportunity open for yourself now and in the future.
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.
I’ve lived in Santa Cruz since age four, and attended local schools. My entire life has been spent in Santa Cruz County except for my tour of duty in the U.S. Navy. The G.I. Bill helped me continue my education post-service, where I graduated from Cabrillo before going on to San Jose State many times, earning B.A. and M.A. degrees along with a teaching, then administrative, credential. I worked for a number of years in the wholesale and retail food industries, and eventually made the decision to officially become an educator, ultimately having the great privilege of being the founding Principal at Cypress High School, where I served the final 13 years of my career. I was twice (2011 and 2016) named Administrator of the Year by the COE, and in 2015 was selected as a United Way Community Hero.
In retirement, I have been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) to six youth in either/both Foster Care or on Probation, aside from volunteering with Teen Kitchen Project, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness as a co-presenter of their “Ending the Silence” program to school and program staff. I also serve on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters and am a member of Vets4Vets, a non-profit that serves local military veterans. I also coordinate the COE’s Inside Education program, which exists to share information with members of the public as relates to the state of local public education in SC County. Additionally, I just passed my four gallon milestone as a Red Cross blood donor.
I have been affiliated with YFIOB for many years, both as a school principal and partner/spouse to Mary Gaukel, a past YFIOB Executive Director.
My advice: embrace the unknown and be open-minded about all the potential opportunities you encounter. Soak up the advice and examples of people you know, and try to balance the interests that blend your head and heart. Sense of humor is critical!
Emily is a long way from home being born and raised in Portland, Maine and spending most of her life in New England. After a stint teaching English in France, Emily found her way to the Monterey Bay area to pursue a degree in Public Administration at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Here she grew an even softer spot for youth development as a Program Coordinator with the Lyceum of Monterey County, working to develop academic programs and events like Model United Nations, Mock Trial, History Day, Spelling Bee, and a STEM conference for middle school girls. Emily’s first post-graduate career opportunity was with Monterey Bay Economic Partnership working with stakeholders from across the region to advocate for affordable housing. She now serves as the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz County Business Council, working with member organizations to remediate some of the most pressing issues facing Santa Cruz County, including workforce development and education. This role lends a unique perspective on the relationship between businesses and the community and ultimately led her to join the YFIOB Board of Directors.
Her advice to young people (like herself)? Sometimes dreaming big starts with something small: finishing your resume, sending an email to a prospective employer, growing your network by just one person. Focus on building these habits and eventually you’ll find that the little things add up in a big way.
Yazmín Herrera was born El Salvador and she was raised in San Diego until the age of 18. She was the first one in her family to go to the four year university- the oldest of 5 sisters. After graduating from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2012, Yazmín dedicated her career to help young people realize their potential, encourage them to be lifelong learners and figure out how we can fundamentally improve education and partner with the existing institutions to do so. She co-founded the Digital NEST in 2014 after getting a lot of insight from her project and research assistant position at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC.
Yazmín is currently the Director of Programs at Digital NEST and works to improve career pathways to careers in Digital Arts (graphic design, film, videography), web & information technology (web design & development, software testing, it support), and community services (office, project and program staff for nonprofits and education). She also serves on the board of two organizations whose missions align with her values and collaborate closely with the NEST- Watsonville Film Festival (WFF) & The Everett Program at UCSC. She was recently appointed Board President of WFF in September 2021.
Yazmín joined the board of YFIOB because she resonated with the mission and she really enjoyed participating in a Girls Paving the Way career panel event where she met two middle school girls that reminded her of herself at that age. Everyone needs more events like that in school! My advice to young people is, you don’t have to know where you’re going as long as you reflect on where you’ve been and what you want your NEXT step to be.
Steve was born and raised in the Bay Area and moved to Santa Cruz County in 1984. He attended Cabrillo College, where he was an All-Conference football player. He attended and graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California with a BA in Management. He spent many years in the private sector as an executive focused on the manufacturing industry. He has been involved with six different startups developing many advertising/marketing campaigns and sales programs to meet the needs of these organizations.
Upon reflection of what matters most, he entered the teaching profession as an Educational Specialist in Watsonville, California. Thereafter, he received his Master’s of Special Education Degree from the University of the Pacific (UOP). Then, he was encouraged to enter the Doctoral Program for Educational Leadership and Administration while attending UOP, where he learned further that you never complete your education as a life-long learner.
Currently, he works for the Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC), hosted by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, focused on Career Technical Educational (CTE) Programs. He is an active member of the Knights of Columbus. His community outreach has been mentoring former “At-Promise” students within the Watsonville community. Steve is a recent addition to the YFIOB board of directors. He has his networking skills to help build bridges between the county’s districts’ work-based learning (WBL) and internship opportunities within multiple industry sectors.
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.”
Elaine Johnson was born and raised in the Bronx, in New York City, where she was first introduced to after school programs. She learned early on the value of mentorships, and different programs that assisted youths in keeping them on the right track.
Elaine holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Juris Doctorate from Monterey College of Law. She is a certified mediator and has training in juvenile dependency and criminal law. Elaine has worked in the fields of Juvenile Dependency, Mediation, Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, Santa Cruz County Trial Lawyers Association, County Office of Education (Mock Trial and Elementary Law Programs), and also county-wide campaign management (Cabrillo College Bond, Housing Measure, elected officials.)
She recently designed, launched, and currently manages the Santa Cruz County Neighborhood Courts Program, which is a pre-filing diversion program of the District Attorney’s Office that uses restorative justice principles. This program is designed to keep low-level misdemeanor offenses out of the traditional criminal justice system. What Elaine loves about this program is that it gives people a second chance and heals and restores harm that has occurred in the community.
Elaine joined YFIOB in December of 2021. “As people mentored and encouraged me to dream big when I was young, I joined because the work that this organization does is the same kind of work that helped me to see that there were no limits. With the support of mentors and programs, and the vision that this organization has, I know the same benefits or gifts will be offered to our youth throughout Santa Cruz County.”
My advice that I would offer our youth today would be to “Believe that you can, no matter what. Let others mentor you, particularly those who have walked or are walking the path you are interested in. There are many stepping-stones in life that will get you to where we want to go. Stay open to all possibilities. Reach out for help when in need of clarity as to what you want to do. People want to support you. Let them. My motto is “Yes you can, I believe in you, and I am never ever giving up on you.”
Maritza was born and raised in Quevedo, Ecuador. She is a public health professional, a nurse, and a researcher. Maritza currently serves as Population Health Director at the Health Improvement Partnership (HIP) of Santa Cruz County. In this capacity, she manages and oversees programs that support community health centers operations and clinical services across health care entities. Maritza’s program portfolio includes quality improvement initiatives, workforce development programs, and the identification of and response to adverse childhood experiences in clinical settings.
Maritza holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Utah and a Master’s in Health-Care Leadership from UC Davis. She is currently a Doctor of Public Health candidate at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Her research at LSHTM focuses on integrating patient’s voices within participatory healthcare and human services spaces in the United States. She is a member of the LSHTM’s Dialogue, Evidence, Participation, and Translation for Health (DEPTH) Centre, a research team that seeks to increase equity and amplify less-heard voices in community dialogues. Maritza also serves as a Board of Directors member at Salud Para La Gente, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Watsonville, California. Maritza joined the board of YFIOB in September 2021 because she believes that “forging paths to a fulfilling and successful career” should be a dream accessible to all youth across Santa Cruz County.
Advice to young people: Explore your personal story, where do your parents come from? What obstacles did your ancestors overcome? How can you use the learnings along the journey to stay engaged and give beyond what you think is possible? Always ask yourself questions.
David is an Assistant Professor of Computational Media at UC Santa Cruz, where he directs the Tech4Good Lab. His research interests are in social computing and in designing technology that promotes flourishing in education, work, and community engagement. One of his current interests is in developing sustainable ways to link experiential learning to supporting community projects and needs (see his TEDx talk on Redesigning Our Economy to Maximize People’s Fullest Contribution). His work has received paper awards at AAAI HCOMP and ACM CHI, been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and deployed with the Finland Ministry of the Environment. He received his PhD from Stanford University and his BS from the California Institute of Technology, and he is a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the Accel Leadership Program Fellowship, a Magic Grant from the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, and the Baskin School of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award. In his spare time, David loves to read books, take hikes, sing worship songs, serve at his church, and hang out with his wife and three kids. He is passionate about supporting individuals in reaching their full potential and contribution, which is why he loves YFIOB’s mission and work!
His advice to young people is to reflect about who you are and who you want to be (Authenticity), to engage in and be open to the opportunities you have (Attention), and to find ways to create alignment whenever possible (Alignment).
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.”
Since the age of two, Hayley was raised in Santa Cruz County, attending San Lorenzo Valley High School. She worked at UC Santa Cruz for over 5 years, serving students in various positions; most notably as an undergraduate academic adviser and an internship and job placement coordinator. She also worked as a career development specialist with special education students at Santa Cruz City School District. In her current role with the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP), as a workforce development program manager, she facilitates development of Monterey Bay Career Connect, including a local college-level internship portal, Monterey Bay Internships. She is passionate about working to develop career pathways, work-based learning opportunities, and equitable college and career options for student and young adults. Through her work at MBEP, she is also a California Stewardship Network Fellow.She obtained an M.A. in Education Counseling with a focus on career services from San Jose State University, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Dramatic Art from UC Santa Barbara, and an Associate of Arts from Cabrillo College. Her commitment to workforce development in the community inspires her to serve on local advisory committees including Pajaro Valley USD Career Technical Education Advisory Committee, Cabrillo College Computer Information Systems Advisory Group, Santa Cruz Workforce Development Board Tech Career Ladders Group, and now Your Future Is Our Business as a board member in 2020.“My advice for young people is to seek out informational interviews and network! Three of my career positions are from networking. It’s not as scary as it seems and can make a huge difference in your job search.”
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 that 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 Graniterock as the Environmental Services Administrator. Before working at Graniterock, Amy worked in 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, to become 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, they can help you keep them.”
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.”
Her advice to young people (like herself)? Sometimes dreaming big starts with something small: finishing your resume, sending an email to a prospective employer, growing your network by just one person. Focus on building these habits and eventually you’ll find that the little things add up in a big way.
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!”
Born and raised in Portage, Michigan (Kalamazoo area). I attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mi. Continued my education at Cabrillo College and received my Early Childhood Education Certification. I also acquired a SPHR (Senior Professional Human Resources) accreditation. Director of the After School Day Care, Inc now called Campus Kids Connection, Inc, HR for McDowell’s Group Homes, West Marine, Threshold Enterprise and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for almost 30 years. Employment Manager at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk from 1995 – 2020. After Covid Lay-Off in July 2020, 10 months later I returned as Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist. Recruitment is my specialty.
When did you join YFIOB and why? I joined officially 9/2021. I joined because my work involves recruiting youth to work at the Boardwalk. Through the years, I am proud of the tens of thousands of youth in our community while working at the Beach Boardwalk have developed career and life skills. I have witnessed so many young people through work find strength and a confidence they never knew they had. Lighting the fire in a young person is miraculous and rewarding.
Be open to possibilities. I had a very circuitous route to finding a career I loved. It took time and I did many jobs prior that helped me to develop my interest which led to other opportunities. So stay open, don’t feel like you have to know what your career looks like right now. Unless of course you know what you want to do. Go to college……it can be a vocational school or a community college or a 4-year and beyond. But try school and take classes that inspire you. Oftentimes this leads to discovery of interests you never knew about. It is OK to feel confused, insecure…..unworthy….you are not alone. This is normal and with time you can slowly shift out of this….it takes patience…..say “yes’ to things more than “no”. Find people you trust and admire and ask them questions about their career path. There is not one answer for all situations. You have your own unique perspective and gift. No one else is YOU. Appreciate YOU…..and give yourself a little positive talk to get that engine running. Your family, your community needs all of you.
Margie Whiting Sisk
Margie was born in Santa Cruz ,the hospital on West Cliff Drive was just up the street from where she works every day! She’s an alumni of Holy Cross Elementary, Harbor High and San Jose State University.
Margie is part owner of Whiting’s Foods , the largest food service provider on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Kaiser Arena. She oversees all things PEOPLE ( hiring , training, motivating!)
Margie is 3rd generation in the business, started by her grandfather and father in 1953. She has enormous pride in the job opportunities it has provided for so many local youth for 70 years..
Her goal is for Whiting’s employees to feel valued, learn job and life skills, develop a sense of responsibility, and learn to work well with all types of people. She has seen firsthand through generations of employees that entry level positions can lead to any career one chooses . She sees how hard work can be fun and rewarding, and that life skills and lifelong friendships become more valuable than any paycheck.
Margie has spearheaded many motivational and training programs that have won industry awards. She is constantly developing programs to train, educate & motivate today’s teens and young adults.
Margie has been a supporter of Your Future is OUr Business for the last decade , but joined the Board in 2021. She believes strongly in ALL the incredible work of the organization , especially that many career pathways can start from that very first job.
“I am committed to help young people understand the value of work in their mental , physical , and emotional health. So many good things can happen when you get a job…way beyond a paycheck!”
Jane Iana Kostina
Jane immigrated to the United States as a child and has spent her adult years in California and upstate New York. She graduated with a BS in Genetics and a BA in Psychology from UC Davis, where she was particularly interested in the genetics of plant drought and salinity tolerance. Working as a strawberry breeder in the Pajaro Valley since 2014, she is continuously amazed by the vibrancy and potential of Monterey Bay in the areas of agricultural excellence, nature conservancy, and building and nurturing thriving communities. Jane is passionate about science communication and encouraging local engagement with agriculture research and development, including emerging technologies and sustainability.
In her free time, she enjoys reading about ancient civilizations, playing the piano, drawing and painting, putting together IKEA furniture for friends, and encouraging homeowners to replace their ice plants with native species.
Tiffany Zachmeier (she/her) is a mom, wife, anthropologist, lifelong student, and certified financial counselor and personal financial instructor. She currently works for the University of California, Santa Cruz as the Financial Literacy Coordinator for SlugCents: a program that provides information, workshops, and individual coaching to help UCSC students and alumni improve awareness of personal finance strategies, build financial capability skills, and achieve a sense of financial well-being.
Prior to her current UCSC gig, Tiffany worked with Bay Federal Credit Union in three separate “sessions” (she left and was rehired twice) for a total of 28 years. During the last several years with Bay Federal, she decided to go back to school. “After the longest “gap year” on record, I re-enrolled as a student at Cabrillo college,” she said. Tiffany earned her AA Degree in Anthropology in 2018, and then transferred to UCSC where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology in 2021.
Tiffany’s study of Anthropology, combined with her experience and training in the financial sector, informs how she approaches her current role. “Students feel a certain stigma about asking for help with financial problems because of how society treats financial mistakes as a sign of irresponsibility, stupidity, greed, etc., but society forgets how our complicated history plays into the equation, and how the complexity of systems choices involved in managing our money has increased while opportunities to learn about them have not.” Rather than blaming students for “not knowing what they don’t know,” Tiffany provides information and coaching to help students learn how to navigate their financial situations without judging them for things beyond their control.
“Knowing they have a place to go for judgement-free support helps students feel so much better,” says Tiffany. She hopes that increased access to financial literacy and coaching will help reduce students’ financial stress and student loan debt so they can graduate and save the world. Seriously, we need them to.
- Malina Long
- Mary Guakel
- Shareen Bell
- Stacey Smith
- Chris McGriff
- David Weiss
- Carolyn Auman: Senior Accountant Manager, Poly (Formerly Plantronics) Board Vice President
- Tish Denevan: Former Community Employment Coordinator, Santa Cruz Seaside Company
- Mark Hodges: Former Senior Director of The Santa Cruz County Career and Technical Education Partnership
- Keisha Frost: CEO United Way of Santa Cruz County
- Henry Michel: Career and Technical Education Program Coordinator
- Ralph Peduto
- Alan Stormes: Founder Elements Manufacturing Inc.,
- Aki Williams: Chief Executive, Defib This
- Winston Whittaker:
- More names coming soon
Alan Stormes, 1957 - 2019
Alan Stormes was a quiet, kind, and generous board member. Alan was always behind the scenes, looking for ways to help youth find their path and offering opportunities for youth to learn more about careers in the manufacturing sector. He gave tours of his company, Elements Manufacturing, to youth in order for them to learn more about commercial millwork and manufacturing. Read more about Alan below:
- 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.