Meet The Board
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
Elected May 2013
Taylor Dial is the Finance Director at Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. Taylor moved to Santa Cruz County in 2000, and currently lives in Ben Lomond. Raised in New England, Taylor moved to California in the early 80’s and began working in the then-fledgling computer industry. After 20 years of working in software, hardware and Internet ventures, he made the jump to the non-profit world, first as an independent consultant, training in financial and governance issues, and later as CEO of the first and largest privately funded non-profit housing trust in the nation.
Winner of the 2007 Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Award, Taylor has a long-standing commitment to helping to keep communities healthy and vibrant. He is a graduate of Community Leadership San Jose, class of 2004, past President of the San Jose Leadership Council, and currently serves as past Board Chair for Leadership Santa Cruz County. As a member of the Santa Cruz County Housing Commission, Taylor works to promote and preserve affordable housing throughout the county.
Taylor joined the Board to help our youth start out on the right track and lead fulfilling, productive lives.
Elected January 2015
Susan Salinger is a retired Fire Battalion Chief. She worked for San Jose Fire Department for 23 years and prior to that she was a Paramedic for Santa Cruz Ambulance for 5 years. Susan has a broad range of talents and skills. She has also worked as an ESL teacher, owned a gardening business, taught swim lessons and aerobics. Her interests include biking, hiking, gardening, snowboarding, yoga and she participates in a chicken co-op.
Susan received a B.A from her studies at Michigan State and San Jose State. She also obtained her M.S in Emergency Services Administration from Long Beach State and her A.S in Fire Science from Cabrillo College.
Susan joined the Board to meet its mission of providing mentors. Susan is a Big Sister and believes that “if all kids were able to receive the right kind of one on one attention, mentoring and positive fun experiences they would be able to grow up and make a positive impact on the world.”
Elected October 2004
Roger Swenson worked for Graniterock for 35 years in the Santa Cruz sales division and retired in August 2015. He was born in Fullerton, California. He moved to Santa Cruz in 1959 where he attended Aptos High School and Cabrillo College, swimming and playing water polo at both schools. Roger enjoyed the beach as a youth, surfing, swimming, and skim boarding. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara and planned on being an elementary school teacher, until he landed a job at Graniterock and never left.
Roger’s involvement with the community is extensive. He is a member of the Santa Cruz Sunrise Rotary, Harvey West Association, and Aptos Community United Methodist Church. Roger is keenly aware of the importance of adult role models. Says Roger, “My dad was my inspiration. He was a wonderful man who taught me to work hard, have fun, be kind, and to take care of my family.”
Since joining Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Board of Directors, Roger has witnessed firsthand the impact of the program upon at-risk youth. Says Roger, “This is a great program that helps so many children. I am very proud to be associated with Big Brothers Big Sisters.”
Vice President/ District Manager
Elected March 2015
Max Seetho is the Vice President/ District Manager at Wells Fargo Bank for Santa Cruz County and the Los Gatos and Morgan Hill areas. He has been employed with Wells Fargo for over 11 years.
Max is a graduate of San Jose State, earning a B.S. in Business Management with a minor in Economics. Currently, he is attending the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business.
Max enjoys traveling and golf. He has a personal passion for supporting education and services to children.
Bay Federal Credit Union
AVP Product Leader
Elected September 2010
During her 35-year career in banking, Diane Lipska has spent 26 of them with Santa Cruz County community financial institutions. For the last 9 years, she has proudly served the members of Bay Federal Credit Union.
Diane was born in Mobile, Alabama, and traveled throughout her childhood due to her father’s service in the U.S. Air Force. Her parents were native Santa Cruzans, and as soon as they were able, the family settled back in Santa Cruz. Diane grew up body surfing at the Cove with her father. She is a graduate of local schools, including Cabrillo College.
From the time she was 8 years old, Diane wanted to be a banker. She was a teller for many years, an experience that helped her to grow professionally. She is currently Assistant Vice President of Card Services.
Diane’s involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters is rooted in her personal experience of having caring mentors in her personal and business life. She says, “I have ‘given back’ in my business life, and now I wish to ‘give back’ to our community.” Diane’s parents, sister, son, and husband are her biggest mentors and supporters. Diane notes, “When I was a child, caring adults stepped in to show me options in life that I did not know existed. Now I wish to help the children of our community find their gifts and potential.”
Pacific Ingredients Exchange President
Elected January 2006
Richard Branson is the President of Pacific Ingredient Exchange, which he co-founded in 1985. Prior to this he was Marketing Manager for Sun Maid, Sunsweet and Diamond Walnut. He has an MBA in marketing. A native of Northern California, Richard was born in Ukiah, and lived in Sacramento, Davis, and Stockton before moving to Aptos in 1996. When he was younger, Richard liked to play seasonal sports with his two brothers and neighborhood kids. Rather than marketing, Richard thought about becoming an astronaut when he was growing up.
Richard understands the importance of Big Brothers Big Sisters, thanks to his brothers, who were his mentors and the people he looked up to in his youth. Richard was motivated to become a Board Member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County because of the life-changing outcomes that occur through the matching of children in need of a positive role model with caring volunteer mentors. Says Richard, “Seeing youth grow into mature members of our community is inspiring.”
Elected October 2014
Alex Simons is an Environmental Specialist at Graniterock. She has been employed there since 2012. Prior to that she was working for the California State Parks in the Resource Management division. Alex served as an Environmental Educator and would guide students through restoration projects. Through that student interaction Alex discovered the impact that positive mentoring and outdoor experiences has on children.
Alex earned her degree in Environmental Studies. She also is a member of CalCima and the Aromas Eagles. Alex enjoys being active outdoors, cooking and traveling. She joined the Board to ensure children in our community have the opportunity for mentorship and guidance to positively shape their lives.
Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group
Elected May 2015
Keri Peterson has been a claims examiner with Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group for 10 years and was previously with CSAA for 10 years. Keri grew up in Santa Cruz and enjoys our beautiful surroundings and community. She also worked as a volunteer with CASA and the Santa Cruz AIDS project.
Keri received her B.S. in Health Education from San Francisco State University and has taught yoga in Santa Cruz for over 14 years. She likes to spend her free time hiking with her three dogs, all rescued from the SPCA.
Keri is very grateful for her friends and family. She joined the Board because she wanted to serve the youth in our community. She believes,”that an investment in our children is more important than ever. Our society if full of distractions and stress, and we have to work to support our youth in growing up to be healthy, happy adults capable of making their dreams come true.”
Chief of Staff
University of California, Santa Cruz
Elected June 2015
David Abercia is a Texas native that moved to Santa Cruz in January 2015. He is currently the Chief of Staff for Undergraduate Education at UC Santa Cruz. Prior to that, David served in various capacities at Texas Tech University (TTU), including a Chief of Staff role for the Senior Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education & Student Affairs, and a Deputy Chief of Staff role in the Office of the President.
He was also an active member of the community in Lubbock, where he served in various capacities with the Lubbock Area United Way (Annual Campaign Vice Chair, Division Chair, and Loaned Executive), Board President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lubbock-Plainview and was a member of the Keep Lubbock Beautiful Advisory Committee. David also spearheaded the Greater West Texas State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC), an annual employee charitable giving campaign raising over $1 million for non-profits across the region.
David attended Texas Tech University (TTU) where he completed his bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Political Science, masters in education, and Ph.D. in Higher Education.
He joined the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters because of his passion for volunteering and desire to give back to the Santa Cruz community. He is a firm believer in the power of mentoring children and the positive outcomes that it achieves.
Claims Technical Director
Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group
Elected August 2004
With over 40 years in insurance claims management, Chuck Hewitt is currently the Claims Technical Director at the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, a company that insures over 12,000 501(c)(3) nonprofits around the country.
Chuck was born in the Bronx, New York City, where he enjoyed body surfing at the New Jersey Shore every summer. Moving to California, he graduated with a BA in Economics from San Jose State.
Chuck has a history of youth service involvement, as he previously served as a Scoutmaster for 3 years and as a church youth group leader.
Chuck’s inspiration in life comes primarily from his wife, Mary, followed by his very good friend, Andy Stein, who during his lifetime served as a mentor and counselor to Chuck. Chuck joined Big Brothers Big Sisters so that he could provide management and financial expertise to the organization, so as to insure quality adult mentoring for at-risk youth.