Lara Kilpatrick, President
Director of Fund Development, California Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, Oakland
Lara grew up in the Santa Cruz area and is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz. Lara’s background includes teaching, marketing, events management and nonprofit development. In her current role with California CASA Association, an organization that supports 44 CASA programs throughout the state, she oversees marketing, communications, and fund development. She is also a founding advancement officer for Teen Kitchen Project. When Angela’s son and another dear friend’s son were both diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Lara’s views about the real challenges women and mothers can face were deeply affected as she watched her friends caring for their four-year-olds during cancer treatment. When Angela invited her to join the Teen Kitchen Project, she was able to turn her desire to help into concrete action.
Before returning to Santa Cruz in 2007, Lara lived in Hawai`i where she was deeply involved in the Big Island community, working with nonprofit organizations such as the Bill Healy Foundation, as well as public and private schools. Prior to her work in the nonprofit sector, as Senior Program Manager for Opus Events Agency in Portland, Oregon, Lara produced marketing events for high-tech and financial corporations across the U.S. and Canada.
Parent of a daughter now in college, Lara enjoys standup paddle boarding, yoga, hiking, reading and spending time with friends and family. An enthusiastic nonprofit and business development professional with a talent for building meaningful relationships, Lara has a passion for lifelong learning and a dedication to making a difference in the lives of others.
Lynn Brisson, Treasurer
Certified Public Accountant, Santa Cruz County
Lynn Brisson is a CPA who works primarily with non-profit organizations in the Santa Cruz area. She feels lucky to have some very fun clients including the Santa Cruz SPCA where, on any given day, she may find a dog on curled up on her lap or “helping” on her keyboard. Another of her clients is the Santa Cruz County Symphony where she occasionally works to the beautiful sounds of the orchestra rehearsing.
Lynn, her husband and two children are very active. She loves watching her kids play soccer, baseball and basketball. She herself plays a lot of soccer and also enjoys jogging. She serves on the Santa Cruz County Youth Soccer Club board of directors as well. She loves the pace of her busy life but greatly appreciates a (rare) quiet moment with a really good book.
Reyna Ruiz, Secretary
School Community Coordinator, Costanoa High School
Reyna Ruiz is the program director for Watsonville and Santa Cruz Youth City Council. She is the former program director for the Beach Flats Community Center in Santa Cruz and is credited with taking the center from nearly closing its doors, to becoming a thriving, sustainable organization. Reyna’s community service began early – In high school she organized dance-a-thons and AIDS Walks to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. Her volunteering and activism continued through her years at UC Santa Cruz in the early ’90s, and after when she moved home to LA to work with homeless, then after graduating from college, Reyna became a juvenile probation counselor. Reyna recently received the prestigious Nextie Award for community leaders who “seek to enhance the quality of life” of its members and “the community at large.” Reyna serves on the Marketing, Program and Development Committees.
Assistant Director, Alumni Engagement Outreach Programs, UC Santa Cruz; Trustee, Santa Cruz City Schools
Prior to working in Alumni Engagement for UC Santa Cruz, Deb was a librarian at the university and a content editor for Yahoo!. She lives in the Seabright neighborhood with her husband and two teenage sons, both students in Santa Cruz City Schools.
Deb is a two-term trustee on the Santa Cruz City Schools Board of Education where she has served as board president and chair of the district's wellness committee. She is a long time community volunteer who has worked for equity and nutrition for school children in Santa Cruz.
Deb serves on the board of Teen Kitchen Project in memory of her brother Matt who died of cancer when he was only 27.
Attorney, Santa Cruz
Debra Miller-Dobler is a retired attorney who lives in Aptos with her fabulous husband and two amazingly talented daughters. She practiced law in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years, having represented several business and individual clients in Santa Cruz County even before she moved here in 2000.
Debra loves that TKP creates so many connections between people who otherwise might never have crossed paths, and she especially appreciates that TKP equips our teens with fundamental life skills in food choices and meal preparation. Debra feels the people connections and food-related education that TKP provides are invaluable community assets, and she is honored to serve on TKP’s board.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Santa Cruz
Jori moved to Santa Cruz in 2001 to study with the UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems apprenticeship program. She worked in a Life Lab school garden and at Renee’s Garden seed company before she earned a Master’s degree in Social Work. She was a Social Worker for Hospice of Santa Cruz County for many years before she transitioned into PAMF’s Diabetes Education, where she provides short-term counseling and support to people with diabetes.
Jori joined Teen Kitchen Project Board because it naturally combines her passion for fresh, local, seasonal foods and providing a service to the community of medically fragile residents.
She lives in Santa Cruz with her partner and loves yoga and backpacking, walking her dogs, and she dreams of someday being a white water river rafting guide.
Lisa Finkelman Smith
Resident Services Coordinator, Bay Avenue Senior Apartments, Capitola
Lisa is currently a Director for the Finkelman Foundation and is on the Second Harvest development board. She previously served on the boards of Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Foster Grandparents, Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and the Tennis Club of Rio Del Mar.
Prior to working at Bay Avenue, Lisa was a patient relations liaison Patient Pathways for dialysis patients and was also an in-take coordinator for Hospice of Santa Cruz County. She has a strong background in medical practice management working with dermatologists, plastic surgeons, physical therapists, and nephrologists. Lisa left the medical field to work in high tech in the 90's. While at Sun Microsystems, she was a principal in the NetDay96 school wiring project working closely with the President and Vice President of the United States, and the Ministry of Education in South Africa.
A graduate of San Jose State with a degree in Sociology and Social Work, Lisa lives in Aptos with her husband, Bruce, daughter, Cassandra, and two dogs, Coco and Tink.
Sandy Skees, Advisory Board Member
Sandy is west coast managing director for Fenton, responsible for San Francisco and Los Angeles teams who are accelerating progress through social change communications. She currently works in the LGBT and human rights, recycling and product stewardship, and national climate change policy sectors. She brings over 25 years in communications strategy with expertise in the sustainability, cleantech and social sectors, creating programs that give organizations a way to focus, share, and motivate change in the world. Skees previously ran her own firm Communications4Good, where she served early stage and Fortune 500 companies. Previously a partner at Porter Novelli, she managed the global HP account team in 20 cities/10 countries around the world and created programs, processes and predictive integration points as a framework for ensuring global implementation of cutting edge communications techniques. She sits on numerous boards including 100 Women Who Care, Breaking the Glass Ballot, Sustainable Brands, EORM, Mini Mermaid Running Club, and the Boomerang Foundation, advises the Bellevue University Communications Department and is a seasoned speaker on brand, messaging and communications strategy.
She spends as much time as she can hiking in forests, sitting on beaches, cooking with others and learning something new every day.
Lori Butterworth, Advisory Board Member
Lori is currently the Executive Director of Jacob’s Heart Childhood Cancer Support Services. Previously, she designed the Youth City Council programs for Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Before launching the Youth City Council program, Lori founded two award-winning, nationally recognized non-profit organizations, which dramatically improved care for thousands of children with life-threatening conditions and their families: Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition of California and Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services.
In 2001, in response to a crisis in public health services for children with serious illnesses, Lori co-founded the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, and served as Executive Director for eight years along with co-founder Devon Dabbs. There, she spearheaded healthcare policy initiatives including the enactment of the Nick Snow Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Act of 2006. This landmark legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger, created an entirely new hospice and palliative care benefit for children in California.
Lori received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Los Angeles with a double major in Spanish Linguistics and Communications, as well as a post graduate teaching credential in Secondary Spanish from the University of Maryland. In addition, she studied Education at the Universidad Compultense in Madrid, Spain.
Lori enjoys life in Santa Cruz County with her husband, Joe, son, Matt, and daughter, Johanna.