Our Team

Our Leadership Team of Volunteers

Nonprofit Connection (NPC) Santa Cruz County Team

Rose Filicetti                    

Founder and Executive Director
Nonprofit Connection
Santa Cruz County

Email: Rose

Rose has been active as an effective, collaborative community builder and advocate in the local nonprofit community since moving to Santa Cruz in 2010. She has over 30 years of experience in the design, management, and governance of nonprofits in the community service, social justice, and education sectors. A former legislative representative, Rose is particularly adept at brokering solutions that cut across the traditional boundaries separating nonprofits, government, and for-profit businesses. Since moving to Santa Cruz, she has served on numerous Board and Committees, including Leadership Santa Cruz County and the UCSC Dreamweavers. She has co-founded several local organizations, Now from Here and Breaking the Glass Ballot. Rose currently serves on Boards that reflect her values of equity, integrity, justice, and connection, the County Board of Education and the founding Board of Digital NEST.

Antonia O. Franco, EdD  

Chief Operating Officer
Digital NEST
NPC Board President

Digital NEST welcomes Dr. Antonia O. Franco as Chief Operations Officer, a newly created role amid a significant moment of regional expansion for the organization. She brings 25 years of leadership experience and is a trusted advisor of the NEST, having served as president of its board since 2017. Dr. Franco’s trailblazing career spans across nonprofit, philanthropic and government sectors advancing access, equity and a voice for marginalized communities. Most recently, she served as CEO of Callisto, a  nonprofit focused on combating sexual assault, supporting survivors and advancing justice through technology. There she laid the groundwork for scale by building the tech infrastructure and organizational capacity to better engage and support college students across the country. Prior to leading Callisto, Antonia was the Executive Director of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), where she led a community of 20,000 students, scientists, and educators including 115 chapters nationwide. Additionally, she served as VP & Program Director for Student, Family and Community Initiatives at Helios Education Foundation, managing a portfolio of community-centered investments to establish local and national partnerships with the purpose of broadening educational success among Latino students. Dr. Franco also held various leadership roles during her 11 years at Arizona State University that focused on expanding access for low-income, first-generation students and families.

Francisco (Paco) Estrada

Council Member
Watsonville City Council
NPC Board Vice President


Paco was born and raised in Watsonville by his immigrant parents. He spent a decade working for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education providing Watsonville youth with vocational opportunities through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the Sueños Program. Paco is an adjunct instructor at Hartnell College and contributes his experience as a person living with type-1 diabetes to his work with the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust, committed to improving the community’s quality of life and safeguarding its health through prevention, upstream medical care, and health equity. Paco was honored to serve as Mayor of his hometown in 2019. He sought public office as a way to contribute his knowledge and experience toward making his community a better place for all.


Suzanne “Z” Doty

Community Volunteer and Networker
NPC Board Treasurer

Email: Suzanne

Suzanne has spent the last 30+ years working on women’s issues such as gender inequality, gender pay gap, and violence against women while co-owning a retail business as the VP of Operations focusing on project management, inventory control, onboarding, training, customer service, and financial management. She has extensive background in public speaking as both a keynote speaker and workshop leader with a focus on women’s economic power, as well as testifying and advocating for change at the county and state level. She has organized and designed conferences on both the state and national level, and is skilled in recruiting and networking.


Rachel Kippen

Nonprofit Leader
NPC Board Secretary

Rachel is a coastal environmental advocate and artist with a background in public program development and nonprofit management. As former Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey and Program Director of Save Our Shores, she utilized her understanding of local environmental education priorities. She gained her knowledge of stormwater program design through her tenure coordinating environmental initiatives at the City of Watsonville. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from University of Redlands and a Certificate in Strategic Leadership and Nonprofit Management from San Francisco State University. Her graduate research focused on environmental justice education through place- and arts-based curriculum development in primarily agricultural and immigrant communities. Of mixed cultural heritage including Hawaiian, Rachel endeavors to create inclusive educational opportunities for youth that incorporate diverse perspectives and are representative of the dynamic community she serves.

Michele Bassi

Michele Bassi

Senior Vice President Managing Director 
1st Capital Bank

Michele Bassi has been in the banking industry for almost 30 years. She spent the first 22 years in various positions within Wells Fargo Bank. Holding positions including sales, service, project management and leadership, she brought a great amount of knowledge and experience to Lighthouse Bank. Joining Lighthouse bank in 2014, Michele focused on business development and growing the bank in both deposits and loans. In 2018, she was promoted to SVP Productions Group Manager. Michele managed the Relationship Management team as well as third party vendors who offered products and services to Lighthouse Bank clients. Since the merger between Lighthouse Bank and Santa Cruz County Bank, Michele has focused her attention on business development and assisting customers through the PPP process. Michele has recently made the move to 1st Capital Bank as Senior Vice President/Managing Director of the Santa Cruz Market. Michele is also extremely involved in her community. Her current board of director positions include incoming Board Chair of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County, incoming Board Chair of Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Foundation, Board Member of Cabrillo College Foundation, Past President and Board Member of Capitola Aptos Rotary, Founding Friend of Meals on Wheels, and Founding Friend of Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center. Past Board experience includes being a Founding Board Member of Digital NEST and Board Member of Family Services Agency of the Central Coast. These, and many other volunteer activities, earned Michele the Woman of the Year award for the Aptos Chamber of Commerce in 2018 and a Be The Difference Award from the Volunteer Center in 2019. Michele graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. She recently graduated from Pacific Coast Banker School in 2020. Michele lives in Watsonville with her husband of 22 years and their 2 children. Colton is a Freshman at Cabrillo College and Cooper is a Junior at Aptos High School. Her hobbies include most water sports and walking her new puppy at the beach. She also enjoys any event that includes wine. 🙂

Linda Bixby

Nonprofit Consultant,
Development and Communications


Linda entered the field of nonprofit work in Santa Cruz County in 2005 after a career in journalism. She has held elective office, has served on numerous commissions, and maintains an interest in municipal government and public policy. A longtime supporter and volunteer for nonprofits serving children, literacy, and the arts, Linda served as CASA’s Development Director for 8 years before helping to launch Digital NEST, supporting its growth and expansion as Director of Development and Communications during its first four years. Linda now works as a consultant helping nonprofits in all sectors create successful fundraising campaigns, build strong development and communications infrastructure, and increase organizational effectiveness.


Keisha Browder

United Way of Santa Cruz County


Keisha is an experienced nonprofit executive with a career spanning 20 years in community development, education, youth success, and philanthropy throughout the United States. Keisha was part of the design team that developed the nation’s first citywide afterschool system, replicated in several major U.S. cities. She leads the nation’s longest-serving Community Assessment Project and many of United Way’s initiatives, including Jovenes SANOS and Youth Violence Prevention Network, have earned national recognition for their equity-centered approach to creating cultures of health. Keisha serves on several boards that reflect her values of equity, integrity, compassion, and dignity to create healthy, thriving, and safe communities for all. She also serves on the United Way Worldwide Equity Advisory Council.


Susan Ferriby

Non Profit Consultant
NPC Membership Chair

Email: Susan

Susan managed real estate and construction for a bank headquartered in Seattle, WA for 20 years. She managed projects across 11 West Coast states and Hawaii. Prior to that she worked for a start-up technology firm where she wore many hats with her major focus on real estate, procurement, and expanding the fast growing dotcom. During her career in Seattle she worked on several local Democratic campaigns, and served for 10 years on a non-profit board including serving as VP and President.  Susan volunteered from April 2018 to April 2021 as a philanthropy consultant with Ecology Action, a local 50 year old non-profit.

Peggy Flynn

Nonprofit Consultant
NPC Donor Circle Chair

Email: Peggy

Peggy’s career includes lobbying in Sacramento for technology companies, managing information management and dissemination for start-ups, and 20 years in the nonprofit arena directing federal and state contracts for online resource centers and public health education campaigns. She secured over $500 million in federal and state contracts and from such funders as the Corporation for National and Community Service, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and many state Medicaid departments. Peggy has served on many boards and committees including The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, The Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, United Way of Santa Cruz County, and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. She has traveled to over 60 countries and recently returned from over 3 years in the Peace Corps in Botswana, working on capacity building of community educators involved in HIV/AIDS. She returned home with a Rhodesian ridgeback dog whom she adores.

Joe Foster

Public Affairs Manager
Kaiser Permanente

Currently serves as the local Public Affairs Manager at Kaiser Permanente. Has previously served as Senior Public Affairs Representative at PG&E, Director of Government Affairs at Santa Cruz County Association of Realtors, and Executive Director of the Santa Cruz County Business Council. Joe has served as a Board Member for many local nonprofits.

Maria Elena de la Garza

Executive Director
Community Action Board of
Santa Cruz County, Inc.

Born and raised in Watsonville, Maria Elena has served for nearly 30 years as a nonprofit service provider and administrator. She is committed to building networks, supporting emerging leaders, being of service, and strengthening advocacy efforts to those impacted by poverty. In addition to her leadership role at CAB, Maria Elena serves on the boards of the Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz County, the Workforce Investment Board of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, and CalCAPA, a statewide association providing training, advocacy, and support in the fight against poverty.

Valéria (“Val”) Miranda

Executive Director
Santa Cruz Art League
and Pajaro Valley Arts

Val is an experienced art, nonprofit, and museum professional. She holds an MBA with a concentration in sustainable management and has 25 years of non-profit and government experience. Val is also skilled in exhibition organization and interpretation. She is committed to excellence and sustainable, efficient use of resources. Val’s areas of expertise include Arts Management and Arts Education, K-12 Education, Sustainability, Strategic Planning, Management & Leadership, Audience Engagement, Cultural Competence and Cultural Humility Training, Positive Discipline, Program Design, Implementation and Evaluation, Development, Exhibitions and Interpretation, and Meeting Facilitation.

Matt Payne

Community Member

A graduate of UC Santa Cruz, Matt is an experienced tech professional who has been actively contributing to the wellbeing of the Santa Cruz community for the past ten years. Matt’s volunteerism reflects his commitment to equal access to education and healthy living for all. As a co-founder of the Emerging Leaders Circle of United Way, Matt helps young professionals connect to community-serving organizations. He is also a member and officer of the Board of Directors of Digital NEST and has been involved in Habitat for Humanity, United Way, and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Kelli (Greene) Ryder

Early Talent Program Manager
Anaplan, Inc.

Kelli is an experienced program manager of global, large-scale, cross collaborative programs in human resources, university recruiting, philanthropy and community relations. Her 30 years of providing engaging employee experiences for global technology and bio-tech companies (Anaplan, ServiceNow, Plantronics, Yahoo!, Google and Clinimetrics) has provided opportunity to expand her community outreach work. Kelli led philanthropy and community relations at Plantronics (Poly), serving Santa Cruz County by engaging business and community leaders, employees, and their families, further deepening community service commitments. Kelli served as a Board member of Your Future is our Business, participates in various volunteer programs, and lives her motto “share what you know” by helping inspire those early in their careers, as a mentor and public speaker.

Heather Thompsen

Program Manager of Health Improvement Partnership
Santa Cruz County

Heather N. Thomsen, PhD has her degree in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and undergrad in Biopsychology from University California Santa Barbara. After studying Neuroscience and working in an academic laboratory setting through Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, University California San Francisco, Department of Neurology, she declared her topical research focus for Maternal Child Health with the desire to improve children’s health outcomes.

She conducted her doctoral research at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford University Medical Center investigating hospital initiation rates and one-month infant feeding methods. This research was in support of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Dr. Thomsen continues to champion the last 15 years for newborns, children, youth and families working on projects and programs which promote protective factors and build resiliency.

Her love for inclusion, children and parenting led to her interest and commitment joining First 5 Santa Cruz as Triple P Positive Parenting practitioner since 2010. These experiences have led to her leadership and commitment in support of care coordination whole-person care and community education.


Lizet Lomeli

CHHS Field Training Intern

Honorary Advisors

Taylor Dial
Former Finance Director
Friends of the Santa Cruz State Parks

Keith Holtaway
SBDC Small Business Consultant

Patrick Meyer, LCSW
Chair, Human Services Program
Cabrillo College

Sue Parris
Former Executive Director
National Coalition Building Institute
(NCBI) Monterey County

Nonprofit Connection Santa Cruz County is a 501(c)3 corporation, Federal Tax ID# 87-2130376

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