Our Leadership Team of Volunteers
Nonprofit Connection (NPC) Santa Cruz County Team
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 35 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, Rose has served on several Boards and Committees, including Leadership Santa Cruz County, UCSC Dreamweavers, and a local Bond Oversight Committee. She has also co-founded two local organizations, Now from Here and Breaking the Glass Ballot. Rose is proud to serve on Boards that reflect her values of equity, integrity, justice, and connection, most notably as President of the Santa Cruz County Board of Education, a director of the CA County Boards of Education, and a founding Board Member of Digital NEST.
Venture Leadership Collective
David brings extensive knowledge and expertise in nonprofit leadership to his role as Co-Principal at Venture Leadership Collective (VLC). With a social sector career spanning decades, David has worked in organizations in every capacity, from volunteer to executive director, giving him unique insight and experience in managing the day-to-day priorities and strategic objectives of organizations.
David’s nonprofit journey started as a weekly volunteer with the Santa Cruz AIDS Project while still in high school and his lifelong commitment to working in support of community was solidified during the two years he served with an AmeriCorps literacy program. More recent experience includes being the Executive Director of a housing organization in the Bay Area, as well as several interim executive positions through his work with VLC. His interim work has found him working in leadership roles at organizations including Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, Redwood City 2020, the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, and Headlands Center for the Arts.
A proud first generation college graduate, David holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Business from the University of the Pacific. When not volunteering or spending time with his wife and two school-aged children in the Santa Cruz Mountains, David can be found in the garden or on a quest for the next great vegetarian meal.
Board Vice President
and Hardware Product Consultant
and Board President, Digital NEST
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.
Seneca Family of Agencies
Emily Rangel is a CSUMB Alumni who first joined the organization as an intern. She dedicated many hours to the organization and learned different aspects of nonprofit management. Post graduation she accepted a board member position for Nonprofit Connections SCC and has recently taken on the role of secretary for the organization. Emily also works as a Crisis Counselor with foster youth in Santa Clara County. She hopes to gain experience from both roles to continue serving the Nonprofit Sector.
Suzanne “Z” Doty
Treasurer and Finance Chair
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.
Antonia O. Franco, EdD
Past-President and Programs Chair
President and Chief Operating Officer,
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.
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.
Senior Vice President/
1st Capital Bank
Michele Bassi has been in the banking industry for over 32 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 made the move to 1st Capital Bank as Senior Vice President/Managing Director of the Santa Cruz Market in September of 2021.
Michele is also extremely involved in her community. Her current board of director positions include Board Chair of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County, Board Chair of Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Foundation, Board Member of Cabrillo College Foundation, Board Member of Nonprofit Connect Santa Cruz, 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 Be The Difference Award Recipient from the Volunteer Center in 2019 and 2023.
Michele graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. She graduated from Pacific Coast Banker School/University of Washington in 2020 with a graduate degree in banking.
Director, Small Business
Capitola City Council Member
Alexander Pedersen is a dedicated community leader and small business advocate, currently serving as the Director of the Santa Cruz Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and a City Council Member of Capitola. With a diverse background in small business development, economic growth, and community leadership, Alexander is committed to addressing the needs of Santa Cruz County and fostering a thriving, inclusive community. Outside of his professional life, Alexander is an active volunteer in his community, serving on the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations and is dedicated to promoting community wellness through leadership and economic development. In his free time, Alexander enjoys engaging in community activities, travel, and outdoor sports.
School-Based Health Manager, Santa Cruz County Office of Education
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.
CHHS Field Training Intern
CEO, United Way
Maria Elena De La Garza
Community Action Board
Pajaro Valley Arts and
Santa Cruz Arts League
Former Finance Director
Friends of the Santa Cruz State Parks
SBDC Small Business Consultant