Meet The Board

From our Staff to our Board of Directors, Big Brothers Big Sisters has a compassionate and dedicated group of individuals
who are willing to do whatever it takes to help change children’s lives for the better.

 

David Abercia

President

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.


Sarah Caldwell

Vice President

Assistant Director of Development
Humanities Dept, UC Santa Cruz
Elected September 2017

Sarah Caldwell is the Assistant Director of Development with the Humanities Division at UC Santa Cruz. Sarah has been there since 2016 and prior to that she was a Development Coordinator through Americorps, at YALLA, a nonprofit that serves refugee children though an after-school academy and soccer.

Sarah graduated from the Furman University with a degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences. She has completed additional courses at The University of Kiel, German.

Sarah stays very active through a variety of volunteer work and hobbies. She enjoys climbing, yoga, hiking, backpacking, cooking, reading, photography, and bluegrass music.

Sarah joined the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters as she remembers fondly the guidance and support that her mentors provided her in childhood. She is honored to help at-risk youth, have access to a caring mentor.


Shannon Graaskamp

Secretary

Benefits Specialist
Granite Construction
Elected February 2018

Shannon Graaskamp is a native of Santa Cruz County. She attended Soquel High and graduated from San Jose State with a B.A. in Communication Studies. Shannon is currently a Benefits Specialist with Granite Construction Inc. where she has been employed since 2012.  Additionally, she has her Human Resources Professional Certification (SHRM-CP).

Shannon truly values getting outside through a variety of activities like camping, sailing, and traveling.  Her biggest joy comes from spending time with friends and family.

Shannon joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters Board because she recognizes the long-lasting power of youth mentoring. She knows that volunteering and giving back is critical to the health of a community.

 

Katie Mekis

Treasurer

Accounting Manager
Hospice of Santa Cruz County
Elected October 2018

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Morgan Lukina

Member

Real Estate
David Lyng Real Estate
Elected June 2018

Morgan Lyng Lukina is a native of Santa Cruz County. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a BS in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business and began working at Prudential Mortgage Capital Company where she worked as an Investment Analyst.

Morgan was honored to join her family’s Real Estate company after working in commercial real estate in San Francisco. She joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters board in 2018. She is also serving as the president of The Santa Cruz County Board of Realtors.


Emeritus Board Members

Chuck Hewitt

Member Emeritus

Retired
Elected August 2004

Chuck and his wife retired to Hilton Head, SC, and he continues to work part-time as an independent insurance claims consultant and expert witness.

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.

 


Richard Branson

Member Emeritus

Retired
Elected January 2006

Richard Branson was the President of Pacific Ingredient Exchange, which he co-founded in 1985. He retired in 2016. 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.”


Omid Aminifard

Member Emeritus

Vice President of Operations
Santa Cruz Seaside Company
Elected August 2005

Omid Aminfard is the Vice President of Operations for the Santa Cruz Seaside Company. He has spent most of his professional career working in the amusement industry. He previously worked for Sea World in San Diego and Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. He joined the Santa Cruz Seaside Company in 2000. Omid knows first hand the power of youth mentoring, as he was a Big Brother.