The Diversity Center’s staff are dedicated and experienced professionals who understand the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sharon Esther Papo, LCSW

Executive Director

Sharon is a Bay Area native who has been a community activist for over fifteen years. Before joining the Diversity Center, Sharon was the Executive Director of 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic, a multi-service health center in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco. Sharon has also coordinated the Santa Cruz-based LGBTQ+ youth program “STRANGE” and worked as a counselor serving marginally housed youth through SCCCC (now Encompass Community Services). Additionally, she was a health educator for foster care, homeless and incarcerated youth and served as the Program Director of Puente: Building Between Jews and Latinx. Sharon holds a BA from UC Santa Cruz in Feminist Studies and a Masters in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley with a concentration in management and planning. Sharon lives locally with her wife and son. 

Contact Sharo Papo: 831-425-5422 x 101 or

Neal Savage


Neal retired a year ago from an 18 month project at Cabrillo College, upgrading technology in classrooms.  Since then he has been the volunteer bookkeeper at the Digital Nest, a non-profit, high-tech training and collaboration space for young people in Watsonville. And prior to that, his career was "over the hill" as a Program and Project Manager for HP and 3Com. Neal has an MBA from MIT and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Stanford. Neal lives in Capitola with his wife Rose. They have three children, Matt, Andrea, and Torie, scattered across the country. 

Contact Neal Savage: 831-425-5422 x 109 or

Jorge Bru

Conexiones Coordinator

Jorge Bru is a long-time LGBTQ+ activist. Jorge got his BA from UCSC with a Community Studies major. In addition to running the Conexiones program, Jorge is an Alcohol and Other Drug Educator at UCSC. Jorge has served our community in many different roles including being an assistant at UCSC’s Cantu Queer Center, facilitating UCSC's Queers of Color Support group, running the Gay and Proud teen support group at Salud Para La Gente, and co-founding the STRANGE youth program. He has been a Case Manager at Santa Cruz AIDS Project and the Bilingual Mentor Parent Program Coordinator at Special Parents Information Network. In addition to being a long-time community advocate, Jorge was a lead teacher at Inner Light Ministries and is a dedicated father.

Contact Jorge Bru: 831-425-5422 x 112 or

Lesley-Reid Harrison

Triangle Speakers manager & Operations manager

Lesley, raised during apartheid era South Africa, has a lifelong commitment to social justice. After living in the US undocumented for ten years and raising a family, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCSC in June 2014 with a BA in Feminist Studies (emphasis Law, Politics & Social Change) & a BA in Sociology (emphasis Gender & Sexuality Studies). Her experience includes Lead Intern (Cantú Queer Center), Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion, Santa Cruz Pride committee, Santa Cruz Dyke March and Tara Home Hospice. She was one of the recipients of the 2014 Chancellor's Achievement Awards for Diversity. Her passion is shining a light and bringing change to the challenges people of color, working class, transgender and gender non-conforming people face, both within and beyond the Queer community.

Contact Lesley-Reid Harrison:  Triangle Speakers: 831-425-5422 x 106 
Operations: 831-425-5422 x 102

Alex Santana, Jr.


Born and raised in Watsonville, Alejandro (Alex) Santana Jr. graduated from UCSC in 2014 with a BA in Film and Digital Media (concentration in production). During his undergrad, Alex was highly involved with two student media organizations; during his senior year he held an Executive Producer role for a student-run broadcast organization. Alex wasn't introduced to The Diversity Center until his junior year of college. After sitting in on his first Triangle Speakers panel, Alex instantly knew he wanted to be involved with the resource center. After participating in a Triangle Speakers training, Alex got involved with The Diversity Center to learn more about the social justice movement in the queer community.

Contact Alex Santana, Jr.:

Youth Program: 831-425-5422 x104 or

Communications: 831-425-5422 x 119 or 

Jamie Joy


Jamie Joy is a colorful whirlwind of ideas and radiant optimism. Transplanted from Philly, Jamie is a passionate advocate for queer communities and a dedicated activist and educator. Since moving to California, they have gotten involved with various organizations in Santa Cruz County focusing on visibility, justice, and sexual health. They recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Community Studies and Feminist Studies and are now looking forward to working with youth at The Diversity Center. Come by and connect with Jamie - they are dedicated to sharing smiles and knowledge. Cheers to queers! 

Contact Jamie Joy:

Youth Program: 831-425-5422 x104 or

Jane Schwickerath

60plus Senior Program Coordinator

Jane has her Master’s in Social Work with an emphasis on LGBTQ+ aging. Jane is a former Board President of The Diversity Center and has been the coordinator of the 60+ Senior Program for the past 5+ years. Along with members of the 60Plus Senior Program committee, she had helped strengthen and grow the senior program through programs and presentations that bring pertinent information to our older adult community. Creating social opportunities to reduce isolation and build a supportive friendship network among our members continues to be her goal. Jane has developed an LGBTQ+ Aging Cultural Sensitivity training and has presented to numerous senior service agencies, residential care facilities, and businesses to increase the competency and care our LGBTQ+ members encounter when reaching out for assistance.

Contact Jane Schwickerath: 831-425-5422 x 108 or

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Aisha (Erica) Charves


Aisha (Erica Charves) loves traveling, and meeting new people; she has lived in 15 cities spanning the US and the globe. In 2011, with degrees in Community Development and Arabic, she travelled as a Fulbright Fellow to the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) to research women’s leadership and cultural
change. Volunteering has been a constant in her life with involvement in the Muslim Student Association, freelance journalism, the LGBTQ+ community, and much more. She loves focusing on facilitative leadership, and empowering others to be their best. 

Contact Aisha at: