Meet the Trustees

Peter Gaarn, Chairperson

Peter is an organizational and management consultant with over 30 years of industry experience. Peter was raised in the Bronx, New York and came to Santa Cruz in 1975 to attend UCSC. He received his BA in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz in 1977 and Masters in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley in 1981. Peter has been a resident of Santa Cruz County for over since 1980 and lives in Soquel with his family. Peter started his career at Youth Services before entering graduate school and then went on to spend 10 years at Lockheed-Martin and 15 years at Hewlett Packard in a variety of consulting, management and executive positions. Before leaving HP, Peter was the Director of Culture and Community Building for the company. In October of 2005, Peter started his own Management Consulting Business that serves both profit and not-for-profit businesses. Peter joined the Encompass (then SCCCC) Board of Trustees in 1998.


Cindy Mekis, Vice-Chairperson

Cindy Mekis is a native of Santa Cruz, and except for a short stint in Sausalito during graduate school, has lived in Santa Cruz her entire life.  Cindy feels fortunate to have grown up in and raise children in Santa Cruz.  Cindy worked as a labor and delivery nurse at Dominican and then in San Jose for 15 years.  Cindy earned her degree in Nursing from San Jose State and then went on to UC San Francisco to earn a degree as a Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).  Cindy completed her terminal degree in nursing by earning my Doctorate of Nursing Practice in 2014.  Cindy currently works at Dominican as their CNS.  Her focus area is Maternal Child health with an emphasis on patient safety and systems.  Cindy loves the beach and her favorite past time is travelling with her family and friends.  Cindy feels It is an honor to serve on the board of such an amazing non-profit.


Jean Gallagher-Heil, Secretary

Jean Gallagher Heil is a faculty member and program chair of the Early Childhood Education Department at Cabrillo College, in Aptos CA. Prior to teaching at Cabrillo College, she taught at San Jose State University for both the Child Development Department and Elementary Education.  Jean taught children for many years, from infants through 3rd grade with most of her teaching being with 2 year olds, preschoolers and Kindergarteners. She taught in elementary schools, state funded preschools, the Bing School at Stanford University, and the San Jose State University Lab School.  She earned her Master’s Degree at Columbia University. A resident of Scotts Valley since 1996, Jean lives with her husband and two grown children. Her son recently graduated from Humboldt State University and her daughter attends the University of Hawaii.


Julia Feldman

Julia Feldman is originally from Queens, New York and has lived in Santa Cruz County since 1985.  She earned a B.A. in American Studies, with a minor in US/Mexico Relations from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Julia has worked for the Santa Cruz County Probation Department since 2001, with the majority of her career spent in the Juvenile Division working with youth and their families.  Julia was trained to be a Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Fundamentals Trainer in 2011, and has worked with many jurisdictions across the United States educating about the detrimental impacts and outcomes for youth in detention and creating alternatives to incarceration. She also assisted and coordinated Santa Cruz Model Site visits for several years, with visiting delegations from all over the United States.  Currently, Julia is assigned to the Adult Division and supervises the Domestic Violence Unit for the county and General Supervision caseloads in Watsonville.  Julia is a member of the Northern California Domestic Violence Round Table Collaborative, and teaches Criminal Justice at Pajaro Valley High School through the Regional Occupational Program.  Julia participated in the first cohort of Leadership for Community Transformation in the county, in 2013, and is passionate about shifting systems towards justice and better outcomes for offenders and victims in the criminal justice system.


Cassie Licker

Picture and bio coming soon!


Scott MacDonald

Scott MacDonald currently consults on a full time basis in the state of California and nationally in the areas of juvenile and criminal justice reform in the areas of juvenile and criminal justice reform.  Scott retired in December 2014 from the Chief Probation Officer position of the Santa Cruz County, Probation Department in California after a 30-year career in probation. In that capacity he oversaw the juvenile hall and was responsible for juvenile and adult probation services. He designed and managed model reform efforts in both the juvenile and criminal justice system. During his career Scott worked with county human and health service agencies and non-profit organizations throughout the county to build an array of culturally responsive treatment, evidence based, and alternative to incarceration programs.  Scott holds a Master of Science Degree in the Administration of Justice from San Jose State University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of California Santa Cruz. He has lectured nationally, authored and contributed to numerous publications, and taught at the University of California Santa Cruz, San Jose State University and Cabrillo Community College.  Scott has been resident of Santa Cruz County for the past 35 years and has two adult children, Jessica and Leo MacDonald, who both live in the community. His wife, Sylvia Perez MacDonald, runs an independent public defense firm in Santa Clara County. 


Pamela Miller, Head Start Policy Council Chairperson

Pamela is the mother of five children aged 3-17. Her youngest is currently benefiting from the Head Start program. Her now 1st grader is excelling in school after almost completely overcoming some special needs and an IFSP/IEP. Pamela attributes a lot of his success to the Head Start Program. Pamela raises her children as a single mother, as she is a survivor of Domestic Violence and has no family in the state. Her children are all currently prevailing academically and athletically. One child even competed in the Junior Olympics last season. 

Pamela has a B.S. in Kinesiology with K-12 Teacher Certification from the State University of New York College at Brockport.  She also took extensive teaching classes at Brooklyn College, earned the California Adapted Physical Education Credential from San Jose State University, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. She began teaching 24 years ago as the lead teacher in a large child-care center for both a toddler class and a pre-kindergarten class.  She also taught Adapted Physical Education for both New York City Public Schools and Santa Cruz City Schools. Pamela has not worked outside the home for the past 17 years as she focuses her attention on raising her five wonderful children. Pamela was elected by other Early Head Start Home Visiting Families to be their Policy Council Representative and was then elected by the entire Santa Cruz County Policy Council to be their Chairperson.  She is excited and enthusiastic about her new roles as leader of the Head Start/Early Head Start Policy Council and her position as a Trustee on the Board of Encompass. This is Pamela's second time as Policy Council Chairperson. 


Lauren Olaiz

Picture coming soon!

Lauren Olaiz is the Community Liaison for Behavioral Health Services at El Camino Hospital.  As part of the administration team she is responsible for engaging community organizations on the delivery of behavioral health services, identification of gaps in available resources, and the development of existing service at El Camino Hospital including acute inpatient psychiatric care and intensive outpatient programs.  Lauren holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from San Jose State University and a BA in Psychology from the University of Arizona.  She has a strong background and commitment to community service and advocacy that will support and compliment the goals of Encompass.  Lauren was raised in Aptos and is currently living in Santa Cruz.