Meet our Board of Directors

FROM THE BOARD PRESIDENT: On behalf of the Board of Directors of Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center, I am excited to share with you that it has been an exciting time!  As a unified organization, dedicated to providing quality services to the women, children and families of Santa Cruz County, we are proud of the hard work and dedication of all members of the Walnut Avenue community: board, staff, volunteers, participants, and loyal donors alike. We, as a team, will build upon these solid achievements toward ongoing growth and innovative collaborations with community partners in the coming year. If you are curious about ways to be involved with Walnut Avenue, please be in touch. We welcome you to our monthly public Board meetings and volunteer opportunities abound! It is through community support and our dedicated volunteers that we can achieve our mission of supporting families in need as they grow and thrive. 

Christine Brooks, Ph.D, President

Christine Brooks, Ph.D, is a professor, consultant, and professional development coach with expertise in interpersonal dynamics, clinical psychology, multicultural counseling, and transformative education. She teaches expressive arts therapy at California Institute of Integral Studies and maintains a private coaching practice supporting people in career shifts and life transitions. Christine is also an active member of Team Women Santa Cruz, Triangle Speakers of Santa Cruz, and is President of the Board of Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center. Past board memberships include the Executive Board of the Center for the Sacred Feminine (2007 - 2013), Faculty Member of the Board at Sofia University (2013), and Chair of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology’s Committee on Diversity & Equity (2007 – 2014). She has raised funds and canvased for NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Combining art and activism, Christine was active in V-Day 2011 and 2012 at Sofia University and One Billion Rising 2013 at Sofia U and in the Santa Cruz community. Christine earned her BFA in Acting from New York University (New York) and her MA and PhD in psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (Palo Alto).


Heather Heen, ESQ, Secretary

heather websize.jpg

Heather Heen, ESQ, is a licensed attorney in the state of California and works with law firm attorneys and librarian on the west coast for Thomson Reuters. In her past practices, she engaged in immigration work and general legal work for the Law Offices of Chris Cayce in Monterey (2005-2006) and prior to that she worked closely on asylum cases at the Immigration Clinic of the University of Notre Dame (2003-2005). Heather is a lifetime resident of the Monterey Bay area with strong family ties in the Castroville farming community.  She is committed to advocacy work and uses her skillsets and talents to “remove roadblocks” from staff members who work directly with the community. Her past volunteer experience also includes working as a docent at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (2010-2012) and she is a skilled scuba diver. Heather is currently working on her Master of Science in Library & Information Science at Drexel University and a World Wines Skills Certification at Cabrillo College.


Pamela Conelly


Pam Conelly is a project manager at the Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County and to works to improve systems of care aimed at strengthening the medical safety net. She is committed to cultivating the ways in which health care delivery systems can improve over-all community health, and believes that building cross-sector collaboration can best impact that improvement. Pam has a background in healthcare facility management, having previously worked at Planned Parenthood and Palo Alto Medical Foundation. She received her Master of Public Health degree at San Jose State University with an emphasis in community health education. Pam brings to her WAFWC board position a strong belief in the intersectional concepts of Reproductive Justice, and understands that supporting women and families in building upon their existing assets, while promoting self-empowerment, is an effective approach for lifting up entire communities.


Julie Schneider, 1994-2016
Amethyst Uchida
Adair Paterno
Michele Pomroy

Tracy Wood, Vice President

Tracy Wood is a community project organizer, fundraiser, and writer with operations, strategic planning, development, and leadership expertise. She remains committed to new ideas that will broaden awareness and assist organizations through current and future development phases. She currently serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center. She currently serves as a District Captain for Sister District Project and recently served on the organizing committee for the Women's March San Jose 2017. She has raised money and organized for Career Closet, WomenCare, The Human Race, Habitat for Humanity (David McClure Day), Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Oasis for Girls, Santa Cruz Aids Ride, Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk. She previously served as Public Relations Lead for the Roger Wildey for Sheriff Campaign (2014), Chair of the Board of Directors for Career Closet (2013-2014), President of Women in Real Estate (2009-2010), the Board of Directors for the Society for Marketing Professional Services (2001 – 2006, 2008- 2010), Advisory Board of Directors Vice Chair for Oasis for Girls (2007-2009), and the Board of Directors for Commercial Real Estate Women (2003). Tracy earned a BS in Landscape Architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.                                                

Robert Staub


Robert Staub is a local resident who believes in the strength of the Santa Cruz community and the mission of Walnut Avenue. Robert is the founder of a successful Santa Clara Valley business and has been a member of the Walnut Avenue Family & Women's Center board since January of 2015. He uses his commercial skills to serve the Walnut Avenue Family & Women's Center Board of Directors and support fund raising activities. A native of Pennsylvania Robert is a graduate of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and first came Santa Cruz in 1990 where he fell in love with a giving and welcoming community.  After leaving the area to pursue business interests he returned to Santa Cruz in 2014. Robert was introduced to Walnut Avenue through his volunteer activity in the Shannon Collins Memorial Garden project. "We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future" - FDR


Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy brings 20 years as an executive with expertise in all aspects of the HR function. Her successful career includes the position of CHRO for Oak Tech, Plantronics, Philips, Lumileds, and HR roles at Seagate. She deeply values and has personally experienced the power of people with a common goal and the impact of strong leadership. During her eight years with Plantronics, she led extensive fund raising efforts in support of Second Harvest. She harnessed robust engagement for Stanford Blood Bank from the CEO to the shipping dock while at Lumileds, and established Women's Groups to increase the learning for advancing women in technology. On a personal level, the outpouring of loving support for her nephew, Jacob Kirkendall, following his near electrocution from a down power line in Rio Del Mar in June 2009, left her in with deep respect for the Santa Cruz community. Julie earned BA in Psychology from SJSU and completed the Executive HR program at Michigan University.


Ken Vinson, Treasurer

Ken Vinson is a native of the Bay Area and proud to call Santa Cruz home for more than 30 years. Ken is a decade-long local business owner, a homeowner, and an avid supporter of the local community.  He values the free-spirited and caring people of Santa Cruz and is committed to the well-being of all residents of the greater Santa Cruz county.  =Ken is a successful 25-year veteran of the local and Silicon Valley tech community including Mountain Network Solutions, TGV, Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks. Leveraging his skills in finance and management, Ken devotes his time at Walnut Avenue to operations and developing the long-term vision for the fiscal health of the organization. For more than ten years, he and his late wife, Shannon Collins, donated both privately and through their business to Walnut Avenue. Ken continues to honor her legacy through volunteering with the Shannon Collins Memorial Garden and as Treasurer of the Board of Directors.


Leticia Camacho

Leticia Camacho attends UC Berkeley and came to Walnut Avenue at a young age and has been a volunteer since. Her time there brought the issues Walnut Avenue faces everyday to the forefront of her mind. Her experiences as a child and young adult helped establish academic and life goals to implement change in her community. After college she hopes to earn a law degree pursuing politics and advocacy for children, young girls in particular. Prior to her election to the Board of Directors of Walnut Avenue Family & Women's Center, Leticia worked as a team member that evaluated the center’s capital assets and needs. A lifelong member of the Watsonville community, Leticia has been involved in planning and conducting fundraising events there for years. Additionally, Leticia has been involved in local political campaigns since youth. Some of her other volunteer projects include work for the Cabrillo College Mentor Program, Jacob's Heart, and distributing baked goods to local farms near her home.


Violet Smith

Violet Smith is a life-long Santa Cruz County resident with roots steeped in community engagement and stewardship. As the owner of Ms. Vi Consulting, she is a marketing, communications, and business executive. She brings her years of experience in both graphic design and marketing to Walnut Avenue with the goal of raising awareness and funds for the Center. Violet received congressional recognition from Congresswoman Anna Eschoo and Assemblyman Mark Stone for her volunteer work as the Director of the Redwood Mountain Faire. Violet is also the co-director of the Shannon Collins Memorial Garden, a place on the Center grounds that celebrates her best friend, Shannon Collins. Violet eared a B.A in Marketing from Cal State Monterey Bay.