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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Alex Santana Jr.
LEAD YOUTH PROGRAM COORDINATOR & COMMUNICATIONS 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.:
Youth Program: 831-425-5422 x104 or email@example.com
Communications: 831-425-5422 x 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
Dina M. Izzo
60plus Senior Program Coordinator
Dina was was born in Ohio and moved to sunny California at the tender age of eighteen after coming out as a lesbian forty short years ago. Around that time, Dina attended her first Gay Pride in San Francisco and that event changed her life. After feeling the power of the queer community, she became politically aware, attending the second March on Washington for Gay Rights in 1989 which launched attending many more marches and protests that were based in the rights of queer people.
Dina currently works in LGBTQ community both as an activist and organizer. She has been coordinator of The Santa Cruz Pride Parade and Festival guiding the growth and financial success for the last four years.
Dina works in the sustainable agricultural industry as a consultant for beginning farmers and ranchers. Her deep love of food and the earth has been the driving force of her career, Dina's work includes teaching farmers in the states, Mexico and Africa. She looks forward to bringing her passion for food to the 60 Plus programs luncheons and events.
Contact Dina M. Izzo: 831-425-5422 x 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Aisha (Erica) Charves
AMERICORPS VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR
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: email@example.com