The board of trustees consists of 9 to 17 community members who have demonstrated their interest in the community and share the vision of Encompass and its goal of service. Our trustees are willing to assume the responsibility of active support of these goals and purposes. One seat is held by the current Chairperson of this Encompass’s Head Start Policy Council. Every effort is made in the above selection process to abide by the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action as well as broad community representation.
Board meetings are scheduled 11 times each year.
Meet the Trustees
Julia Feldman, At-Large
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.
Catherine Sonquist Forest, MD MPH FAAFP, Chairperson
Catherine Sonquist Forest, MD MPH is a family physician and Clinical Associate Professor at the UCSF Natividad Family Medicine Residency. After graduating from UCSC, she received her MPH in Behavioral and Environmental Health Sciences from UCBerkeley, a MD degree at UCSF, and residency in family medicine at Community Hospital of Santa Rosa. She has been faculty at both UCSF and Stanford Schools of Medicine. Most recently, she is a member of the CA Health Care Foundation Health Care Fellowship Cohort 13. Honors include the CAFP “Hero of Family Medicine Award” for her service to patients across the state of California in 2013.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Forest has been at the forefront of local and statewide access to care and policy issues. Local affiliations include Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center, SCHSA, CCAH, the Physician Advisory Committee of Hospice of Santa Cruz, and a local charter school board.
Throughout her career, she has collaborated with local and state, federal organizations and agencies to see rigorous research translated into practice with the goal of achieving greater equity in health.
Peter Gaarn, At-large
Peter has over 35 years of business experience in leading, planning, designing, implementing and coaching business leaders to effectively execute strategic and organizational initiatives. 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 has deep knowledge and experience in high tech, manufacturing, education, research and health care. He is actively involved in the Santa Cruz Community and is also on the Advisory Board for Lighthouse Bank, an 11-year-old Community Bank. Peter lives in Soquel California with his wife Nancy.
Cassandra Gazipura, At-large
Cassandra is an attorney at the Santa Cruz Public Defenders Office, where she runs their Clean Slate Program. Her focus is on removing or minimizing the barriers that individuals encounter in employment, housing, and immigration as a result of a criminal conviction.
She sits on the boards of the Yoga for all Movement and the Santa Cruz Women Lawyers Board. She is also a member of the Justice and Gender Taskforce in the county, which addresses the needs of women in the criminal justice system.
She is a graduate of Santa Clara University, with a Bachelors of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. She received her Juris Doctor (JD) from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She chose Jesuit schools because of their focus on social justice and public interest.
Steve Glynn, Treasurer
Steve Glynn is honored to be on the board of an organization that performs such vital work in our community. He is currently a Director of Finance for Plantronics supporting the World Wide Operations team and is responsible for forecasting, budgeting, standard costing and financial support. He has worked for a variety of companies here in Santa Cruz and over the course of his career he has held many roles in both Operations and Finance and has been involved in areas ranging from M&A work, opening and managing a factory, implementing standard costing and forecasting systems, pricing and jungle tours. He has a B.A. in Economics from UCSC and a Certificate in Operations Management from Cal Tech. He lives in Santa Cruz with his girlfriend Julie and a cat named Macallan.
Melisande Holingue, Vice-Chairperson
Mélisande Holingue has worked with children, families, incarcerated women, and individuals in recovery for the past ten years.
For over eight years, Mélisande specialized in early intervention and connecting children and families to local services, including Papas and Families Together. She is passionate about supporting families in a holistic approach, utilizing community resources, and promoting early literacy in her classroom. She worked as the master preschool teacher at the Cabrillo College Children’s Lab School, an innovative learning lab for adult learners in the Early Childhood Education department at Cabrillo College in Aptos.
Currently, Mélisande works with incarcerated women, justice-involved women, and women in recovery. She holds a degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Social Work from CSU Monterey Bay and is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work. Born in France and raised in Northern California, Mélisande speaks French and English. She lives in Corralitos with her partner, Jamie.
Lauren Johnson, At-Large
Lauren Johnson 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.
Cindy Mekis, Secretary
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 Kaiser San Jose 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 traveling with her family and friends. Cindy feels It is an honor to serve on the board of such an amazing non-profit.
Bibianna Rocha, At-Large
Bibianna, a native Californian, was born in Yuba City and raised in Live Oak with her two older brothers. While pursuing her Associate Transfer Degree at Butte Community College, Bibianna worked as a Service Manager at Wells Fargo Bank where she developed strong leadership and communication skills. After the CAMP Fire, Bibianna and her family moved to her husband's hometown of Watsonville where she found employment as the Executive Assistant at the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust. As a former beneficiary of the Head Start Program, Bibianna enrolled her two daughters, ages two and five, in Watsonville's Head Start Program where they are thriving.
Kim Smith, At-Large
Kim Smith has spent the last twenty years in tech with ten years in classic financial planning and analysis roles, and the most recent ten in business operations managing everything from product to all G&A functions in a broad range of industries including communications, biotech, and software from startups to medium-sized enterprise.
Kim is passionate about career mentorship and initiating process improvement to drive productivity. She graduated with honors from Santa Clara University's Leavy School of Business. Kim was born in Santa Cruz. Although she grew up in Orange County, she has spent her adult life growing deep roots in Santa Cruz County. Kim lives with her partner, their son, and their golden retriever in Scotts Valley.
Martha Espinoza, Policy Council Chair
Amy Shellman Smet, At-Large
Erin Stuart-Cayot, At-Large