MEET OUR STAFF
The Diversity Center’s staff are dedicated and experienced professionals who understand the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
Sharon Esther Papo, LCSW
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 email@example.com
Aisha (Erica) Charves
Aisha 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 joined us over a year ago and planned an event... now she can't imagine her life without the Diversity Center.
Contact Aisha at 831-425-5422 x 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
AMERICORPS VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR
Sparrow is a conjurer of capacity, wielder of synergy, harbinger of Volunteers. Hailing from Northern California, Sparrow moved to Santa Cruz and graduated from UCSC with a BA in Community Studies in 2013. Before becoming the AmeriCorps volunteer leader for the center, they volunteered through the Diversity Center's Youth Program and as a Speaker for the Triangle Speaker's Bureau, learning from and providing guidance to the next generation of LGBTQ+ people who will shape tomorrow's world. Sparrow is passionate about supporting the trans and gender non-conforming community through education, empathy, leadership, and mutual aid for the goal of creating a more livable and equitable destiny for all people.
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.
Iris Barrera Hurtado
Iris (ee-r-ees) is a smol bean born in Watsonville that has grown to love their existence through learning more about their queer xicanx identity. They grew up surrounded by agricultural farmers and saw different communities remain resilient through their existence and resistance, which have influenced Iris to want to create social change and growth within themselves and their surroundings. Iris has volunteered for the Community Action Board in Watsonville, and is currently involved with the womxn of color collective, Revolunas. Iris recently graduated from UCSC with a degree in English Literature and is eager to build community with the Diversity Center so swing by to connect!
Contact Iris Barrera Hurtado: 831-425-5422 x112 or email@example.com
YOUTH PROGRAM COORDINATOR
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
60plus Senior Program Coordinator
Steven found his calling for social work and social justice later in life after viewing the movie Gen Silent, which documents the lives of several LGBTQ+ older adults and the challenges they face as they age. It was then he decided to seek higher education, with the intention of becoming a gerontological social worker focusing on LGBTQ+ aging issues. Steven graduated Summa Cum Laude from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. He has previously been involved with the Diversity Center’s 60Plus Senior Program as a volunteer and social work intern.
Steven is bringing with him not only his passion for LGBTQ+ seniors, but also his enthusiasm and can do attitude, an open mind, open ears, and an open heart. He looks forward to helping the 60Plus Senior Program grow; and will work to ensure that the needs of these jewels atop the LGBTQ tiara are made known and met!
Steven is a California Native who lives in Santa Cruz with his husband.
Contact Steven Matzie 831-425-5422 x 108 or email@example.com
Donor and Business Development Associate
After spending her formative years in upstate New York, the siren call of California beckoned Anissa westward. Nearly two decades later, the gleaming beauty of Northern California continues to be a daily source of enjoyment and inspiration. Anissa spends her days fundraising and volunteering for Meals on Wheels, The Alzheimer's Association, and the Santa Cruz AIDS Ride, to name a few. They have allowed her the opportunity to engage and support the people that make her life here so rewarding. The spice in her life comes in the form of three beautiful rescue Chihuahuas and a grumpy terrier that bares a strong resemblance to Sam Elliot.
Contact Anissa Novak 831-425-5422 x117 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Santana Jr.
LEAD YOUTH PROGRAM COORDINATOR
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. at 831-425-5422 x104 or email@example.com
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 at 831-425-5422 x 109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Interim Communications Coordinator
California native and long-time Santa Cruz resident, Jenny joined the Diversity Center staff as Interim Communications Coordinator in February, 2017. Her first work for TDC was as project manager for the 2014 Diversity Center website relaunch. Jenny holds a BA in Arts Administration, and produces arts events, as well as doing freelance and part time communications and design work.