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 two children.
Contact Sharo Papo: 831-425-5422 x 101 or email@example.com
development and community relations director
Deanna has been a flower arranger, a bus driver, a radio talk show host, a Congressional aide, and she almost became a Catholic nun. Most recently she was the Development and Community Relations Manager for Arts Council Santa Cruz County where she raised money for arts education for low income children and youth. For the prior 12 years, she was the Community Research and Communications Director for Applied Survey Research, an organization dedicated to community well-being for low-income families and communities of color. She has a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in politics, and a M.A. in political science from UC San Diego. She lives on a little patch of land with a lot of friends and her beloved gray striped and spotted overly attached kitty cat. When she’s not working, she’s playing word games, poker, walking on West Cliff, or planning to meditate.
Contact Deanna: 831-425-5422 x 117 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TRANS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Born the youngest of five to a blended working-class, immigrant family in Southern California, Ezra originally came to Santa Cruz in 2007 in pursuit of higher education and a breath of fresh air. After graduating from UCSC with a B.A. in Film and Digital Media and a passion for social justice, they drifted aimlessly throughout the pacific northwest and the bay area observing and engaging in the wide range of queer communities they encountered. Nearly a decade later, they've returned to Santa Cruz in hopes of finding their niche in the grand scheme of things as a black (and proud) queer person. As someone who's proudly claimed many gender identities throughout time—from "butch lesbian" to "not-quite-a-boy-but-still-transgender" to "delightfully ambiguous tender-hearted queer kid at heart," Ezra strives to connect with and support all marginalized, alienated, intersectional and disenfranchised members of the transgender and LGBTQ+ community, regardless of race or class.
Contact Ezra at 831-425-5422 or email@example.com
education and training 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.
Youth Program Coordinator
Ashlyn grew up in the Bay Area and came to Santa Cruz for college at UCSC. She considers herself to be a professional in the arts and sciences of connecting people with resources, movie watching, helping you fix your computer, fitting everything in the car, and providing basketball commentary. She lives with her wife and two pretty cute dogs.
Contact Ashlyn Adams 831-425-5422 x 104 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Gender Expansive Youth Group Facilitator
Jack is trans masc, born and raised in Houston, Texas. Before moving to California, Jack had little to no knowledge of the concept of gender being personal, or how knowledge of the gender spectrum would liberate him from internal turmoil. Once Jack had a glimpse of the gender spectrum he started living in an LGBTQ+ safe space, visited trans support groups at the Diversity Center, and began honing his own personal identity. As the Gender Expansive Youth Facilitator, Jack's mission is to create a space where trans and gender expansive youth can converse safely and liberally with each other in a constructive and insightful manner, help fortify their self respect, and encourage peer support.
Contact Jack Mayer: 831-425-5422 x. 104 or email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Neal retired a few years ago from an 18 month project at Cabrillo College, upgrading technology in classrooms and moved from the Host Desk to the admin/bookkeeping desk, half time. 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, and a grandchild Emma, scattered across the country.
Contact Neal Savage at 831-425-5422 x 109 or email@example.com
Emilio first became active with the Diversity Center as a participant through the Conexiones program. He later joined the Diversity Center’s Board of Directors. Emilio is a proud bisexual activist and a founding Board member of Pajaro Valley Pride. Emilio was born and raised in Watsonville. He is a proud father who is blessed with a strong and beautiful daughter. Emilio's past professional experience includes over 10 years as a social worker. Emilio has previously been an EMT in Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services. Emilio has actively been involved with humanitarian organizations and organizations working with survivors of sexual abuse.
Contact Emilio Barajas at 831-425-5422 x 127 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronnette provides administrative and communications support to the center on a part time basis. She has three grown children, all out on their own. Ronnette lives in Santa Cruz with her fiance Sharen.
Contact Ronnette Chandler via email at email@example.com