Laura Knapp, President 2020-2021, Parliamentarian 2021-2022 & 2022-2023
Laura Knapp, the Club’s president for years 2020-21, recently retired after a 35-year career conducting clinical research, primarily in the cardiovascular area in the U.S. and around the world for large and small companies. The last 10 years of her career, she was founder of a consulting company working with medical device manufacturing clients in the U.S., Canada and Japan who were seeking Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval of their products.
She and her husband, Dave, belong to a gourmet dinner club, she belongs to the Santa Cruz Garden Club, and enjoys hiking, sewing and painting (complete beginner!).
Kate McGuire, Secretary 2020-2022, Region Delegate 2022-2023
Kate is a retired journalist, who spent more than 35 years working in newspapers, magazines, radio, television, public relations and as a State of California public information officer for three state agencies. Over the course of her varied career, she received numerous writing awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 1979.
Kate currently is the Capitola Soroptimist Club’s secretary, chairs the Public Awareness Committee and is a member of the fund-raising committee. In the past, she served four years as the Soroptimist Sierra Pacific Region Public Awareness chair, and is a past delegate to the Region Conference.
Gwyn Larson, Past President, Vice-president and Secretary
A former social worker and a certified hypnotherapist, Gwyn Larson joined the Capitola Soroptimist club in 2008 and has served as the club president four times, vice-president twice and secretary six times. After many years in Santa Cruz County, she and her husband in the Spring of 2020 moved to San Diego County to be near her daughter and granddaughter, but she remains a member of the Capitola Club serving remotely.
Gwyn is involved in many activities including book club, water aerobics, women’s church group and building her knowledge of film history by watching classic movies and attending film festivals.
Carol DeLauder, Former President and Parliamentarian
Long-time member Carol DeLauder has served the Soroptimist International of Capitola-by-the-Sea club in multiple ways including being president numerous times and currently serving as the Club’s Parliamentarian.
A graduate of San Jose State University, she worked in retail, banking, Oakland City government and eventually in real estate during her career. She has two daughters and five grandchildren, plays golf, and is a member of American Association of University Women serving on the #End Human Trafficking committee.
With almost two decades of professional experience in the financial industry, Alison McClure founded her own financial business, Ohana Wealth Management, in 2019. She provides financial advice, tools and resources to enable her clients to manage their finances. She is registered in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois.
As a member of the Capitola Soroptimist club, she supports the club’s mission and fund-raising activities and is a delegate to the Region Conference in 2021.
Susan Steely, Vice-president 2021-2022
With a 30-year record of successfully guiding her real estate clients in sales, purchases, 1031 exchanges, and investment analysis, Susan Steely is currently a broker associate with Bailey Properties in Santa Cruz. Prior to that, she owned her own real estate company and was a broker owner of a mortgage company in Manhattan Beach, CA.
She is currently membership co-chair in the Capitola Soroptimist club. She previously served on the club’s board and fund-raising committee and was a delegate to the Soroptimist Sierra Pacific Region Conference. Susan is also active with the Coastal Watershed Council of Santa Cruz, which is dedicated to meaningful change along the San Lorenzo River.
Joan Riley, Co-Chair, Membership Committee, Region delegate 2021-2022
Joan Riley, a retired Special Education Resource Specialist-grades Kindergarten through 6th, is the Club’s current fundraising pillar, specializing in restaurants and raffles. While she volunteers with her Soroptimist club, she hopes to go back to working as a substitute education specialist when it is safe to do so.
She lives in Aptos with her partner, Tom, his 3 birds and their lab Harmony. While she grew up in Oakland, she and her family—who by the way—won a competition on the TV show Family Feud, summered in Boulder Creek, which gave her the desire to move full-time to the Central Coast. She is blessed to have done so, she said.
Lillian Miranda, Vice-president 2020-2021, Secretary 2022-2023
After a 40-year career as a lawyer and judge in Massachusetts, Lillian moved to Santa Cruz six years ago. She got to work immediately and in addition to being a member of our Capitola Soroptimist club, she is a volunteer mediator with the Conflict Resolution Center and the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum.
As vice president of our club, she is the lead of our Live Your Dream program (LYD), which requires her to conduct outreach to numerous individuals and organizations to find eligible candidates, find judges to evaluate the applicants and design the awards ceremony.
She is an avid gardener, practices yoga and plays tennis for relaxation and exercise.
Karen (KC) Carlson, President 2021-2023
KC has lead the Club’s fund-raising efforts for more than five years and was a major force in creating the opportunity to partner with Santa Cruz Shakespeare (SCS) to operate the Cushion/Beach Chair/Blanket rental booth at the SCS outdoor theater. That effort has become the Club’s largest fund-raising event each year as members rent the items at more than 50 performances, seven days a week during the summer.
A graduate of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, she was an environmental studies major who has worked in various environmental non-profits as well as Next Stage Productions, an arts group that offers creative arts programs for adults 50 years and over.
KC also holds numerous rowing records: she and her rowing partner have held the Women’s Double record time of 3:31 since 1988 and have rowed across Monterey Bay 22 times. KC continues to teach Ocean Rowing and Navigation and Safety.
Katie is the Club’s youngest member, but she has been a Soroptimist for seven years and has served as president two years, parliamentarian for two more years, and formerly served as regional pillar for the Dream It, Be It program. Interestingly, she joined Soroptimist after winning the Violet Richardson Award for community service as a high school student.
She was further inspired to join Soroptimists because she has known women who have suffered due to abuse, sexual assault, eating disorders, etc. “Being a member of Soroptimists is my way of working to change the world so that women no longer have to experience these obstacles,” she said.
She is a supervisor at the UC Santa Cruz library, and likes to hike with her dog, work in her garden, and do projects around the house in her spare time. Her favorite quote is: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” ~Vivian Greene
Ryder Spires, Vice President, 2022-23
East Bay native Sarah “Ryder” Spires loves sharing her passion for Santa Cruz. Ryder holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in criminal justice. She spent her early career in law enforcement, earning certifications as a crisis and hostage negotiator, peer and group counselor, and instructor in multiple fields. After a career-ending injury, she retired from law enforcement and pursued real estate full-time.
Ryder brings her laid-back, helpful attitude to all demographics, from land buyers to investment properties and vacation homes, but she is particularly passionate about sharing her expertise with first-time buyers, low-income clients, and law enforcement personnel. She is a certified resource for senior real estate sales, first-time buyer sales, short sale and foreclosure sales, and probate and trust sales.
Mercedes Florencio, Club Treasurer 2022-23
Highly skilled in a wide variety of business operations, Mercedes applies her analytical skills to every project she undertakes. Her Microsoft Excel experience supports business applications through data analysis, scenario modeling and pivot tables. She is an eager learner of new challenges and experiences and has many years of experience in customer service, marketing and finance.
That’s her serious side! On her fun side, she avidly practices yoga and enjoys dancing which she says helps her express herself. She claims she isn’t a good dancer, but you can always find her leading the dance!
Linda Contreras, Treasurer 2020-2021
Voted one of the best Certified Public Accountants (CPA) in Santa Cruz County by local media, Linda Contreras is a graduate of San Jose State University and a former IRS agent. She has been the owner of Contreras Tax Service for more than 10 years and has served as Capitola Soroptimist club treasurer and as a member of the fund-raising committee.
Christina Scherer, Membership Pillar
Christina Scherer has been active in volunteer community activities since moving to Santa Cruz in 1973. Through all her work she has focused primarily on support and betterment of women and her love for children. Some of her activities included cooking classes for elementary students, mentorship with Women’s Crisis Support, fundraising for the Cultural Council, Sew a Girl a Dress and agricultural awareness programs.
A graduate of Leadership Santa Cruz, Christina was active in the formation of California Certified Organic Farmers and the group that formed the Monterey Bay Area Certified Farmers Markets. In addition, she managed and helped expand the markets from their inception and three years thereafter. In her free time, she loves to gather with friends, travel and enjoy live music, theater, and and sports.