Santa Cruz SBDCAptos, CA

Our Team

The Santa Cruz SBDC is staffed with experienced leaders who assist SBDC clients grow and develop their businesses.



Tom Bruce

Restaurant and Food Service

Tom Bruce has been serving the hospitality industry in various capacities, such as, consultant, teacher and chef for over 35 years.  An instructor for American River College, Mr. Bruce has taught classes such as Applied Foodservice Sanitation, Purchasing, Basic Cost Control, Advanced Cost Control, Marketing and Legal Aspects.  He is certified by the National Restaurant Association, California Restaurant Association and is an accredited vocational instructor through UCLA.

Mr. Bruce offers monthly seminars including a SERVSAFE Certification Program.  His Tactics & Strategies for Success Program offers seminars covering such topics as purchasing, marketing, human resources, administrative, financial and legal aspects as well as more specific issues such as red meat & seafood analysis and knife handling skills.

Meigan Butler


Nursing Major at Cabrillo College

Brian Case

Ecommerce & Website Development

Brian Case has been working in ecommerce for a little under a decade. In that time, he's helped build ecommerce sites for prominent businesses including Hanes, David's Bridal, Advance Auto Parts, Duluth, Vets First Choice, and most recently, Patagonia. He started his career where you are, looking to build a site and hire someone to do it. He's happy to share some of the tips and traps of ecommerce to help you through these challenging times.

Mary Castillo Avalos

Mary Castillo Avalos

Cert. Financial Counselor

Mary Castillo Avalos is passionate about helping small businesses and individuals become financially organized. She has 20 years of combined experience with personal computers, bookkeeping, income taxes, credit counseling, and human resources. She is certified as a credit counselor, bankruptcy specialist, financial educator, and QuickBooks online accountant. As a self-employed Certified Financial Counselor and Business Advisor with the Santa Cruz SBDC, Mary is excited to help small businesses grow and succeed.

Douglas Deaver

Contracts and Leasing

Douglas has senior level experience and expertise in facilities development, purchasing, operations and contract administration in both the public and private sector.  He has been the President and is currently the Youth Chair for the Rotary Club of Capitola/Aptos. He is a member of the California Association of Business Officials. His work with the Santa Cruz SBDC consists of assisting small businesses with business planning, financial projections, lease negotiations, facilities planning, and operations management. At Cabrillo College, Doug managed $150 million in state and locally-funded bond construction projects; managed purchasing, contracts, risk management, warehousing, duplications, and mail distribution and also managed business services as Interim Director for 14 months.

Doug obtained a BS MS in Industrial Management with Honors from Purdue University-Krannert School of Management

Doug Erickson

Business & Influence

Doug Erickson is the Executive Director of Santa Cruz Works and the founder of the Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp. He has 30 years of executive level positions in companies such as Live Picture, WebEx, Cisco, SugarCRM, and Nanigans. He is also the co-founder of CruzHacks (HackUCSC) one of the largest hackathons in California. On any day when there is good surf or wind, you can find him surfing or kitesurfing.

Jennifer Hallett

Administrative Assistant

Experienced Administrative Assistant and Event Coordinator with a demonstrated history of working in hospitality services and small businesses throughout Santa Cruz County. A graduate of Cabrillo College's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program. Passionate about providing needed services to our local community, environmental conservation efforts, and offering bilingual services to all that prefer it.

Jennifer enjoys reading classic and contemporary literature, creative writing, and spending time with her family. She plans to stay within the County of Santa Cruz and contribute to a small but might community for the rest of her life.

Joy Hallof

Human Resources

Joy joined the ranks of the "consultant" world after thirty years of experience in the Human Resource field in companies such as ITT, Raytheon, Gillette, Oral-B Laboratories, Quintron Systems, Remedy, Pacific IBM EFCU and William Wilson & Assoc.  While with a division of Gillette, Joy gained international human resource experience, with responsibility for operations in 28 different countries.

Her training "passion" facilitated her being involved in two delegations that provided training/management information in Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, and a management seminar in Romania.  Generalist knowledge of Human Resources led her to be the first Chairperson for EDD’s Employer Advisory Group and the Chair of the first ever California Employer Advisory Group statewide conference.  She helped found a real estate oriented HR group called REELE in the San Francisco area to facilitate HR professionals serving the Real Estate Industry. 

Joy holds a B.A. degree from Chapman College and completed the Masters study in Human Resources/Organizational Development at the University of San Francisco.  



Are you aware of the hundreds of new HR-focused laws that are going to impact your business in 2020? Whether you're just launching your business or you've had your doors open for decades, SBDC HR Advisor Joy Hallof is someone you need to get to know. 

The list of businesses she has helped is too long to list here so if you need help, you need to visit to apply for assistance to make sure you're in compliance.


Larry Hebert

Management, Business Operations, Financial, Strategic Development and Retail

Larry Hebert started his business career over 40 years ago. During that time, his professional experience has included both entrepreneurial and corporate ventures.  Larry is a principal at Hebert & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in finance, raising start-up capital, financial analysis and CEO coaching. Larry consults with clients on financial forecasting and analysis, operations and business management practices, strategy development and tactical implementation. 

He has advised businesses in all areas including writing business plans, conducting financial analysis, assessing, diagnosing and forecasting for better cash management, as well as launching new products and crafting turnaround strategies for troubled companies.

Larry has been a certified loan broker for the Small Business Administration and worked with clients in acquiring funding for their organizations.  He has served as the Regional Director, Adjunct Faculty and Senior Class Advisor for the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University. MBA from Pepperdine University and a B.A. from California State University, Sacramento.



Do you have control of your inventory or does it have control of you? Meet the Santa Cruz SBDC's King of Cash Flow, Larry Hebert as he and SBDC Ambassador + Marketing Advisor, Bryce Root, visit local businesses to break down three essential tips to make your inventory work for you, not against you!

Take the next step and apply for free consultation from the SBDC and receive an in depth review of your precise situation from an appropriate advisor including Larry and the rest of our team.



Keith Holtaway

Business Planning, Management and Financials

Keith Holtaway is an award winning Bay Area business consultant with a 20-year track record of proven successes. He has helped germinate the seeds of his client's ideas and helped transform them into award-winning and successful, local and nationally recognized businesses. Keith works closely with CEOs, senior management, executive directors, project managers, small and large business owners, and start-ups to quickly get their best thinking in writing and begin seeing results. He works with the client and team to develop clear, concise and aligned plans for achieving their quarterly and annual objectives for revenue, profit, cost reduction and other key measurements that are important to the overall success of their organization.

Born in New Jersey, Keith has a BA in History and English, was the Co-Founder of Pizza My Heart, a past Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Downtown Association, Director of the Small Business Development Center at Hartnell College, State Star for the Central California SBDC Region, holder of multiple awards for Excellence in Economic Performance for the Santa Cruz County SBDC, and co-winner for the 2016 Santa Cruz Nexties “Mentor of the Year” award. Keith also hold the rank of Sandan in Shorinji Ryu karate, as a 3rd degree black belt.



If you’re getting ready to chase your entrepreneurial dreams and start your own business, please watch this video first. Listen closely as award-winning SBDC Business Advisor, Keith Holtaway shares his top four tips he has given to hundreds of businesses in our community who have celebrated having the business of their dreams.

Take the next step and apply for free consultation from the SBDC and receive an in depth review of your precise situation from an appropriate advisor including Keith and the rest of our team.


Karen Kefauver

Social Media & Public Relations

Karen Kefauver is a Social Media Marketing Coach who works with small business owners, executives and solopreneurs to boost their business with topnotch social media strategy and hands-on coaching and training. She launched her business nearly a decade ago and established herself as the go-to social media expert in the area, giving presentations for the Apple Store in Los Gatos, Groupon and many regional Chambers of Commerce.  Karen’s 20 years as a professional journalist, with stories and photos published in the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Santa Cruz Sentinel, give her the tools to write and develop attention-getting content for her clients’ social media marketing needs. Her passion is to empower people to use social media with confidence through her one-on-one and group coaching, speaking engagements and content development. Karen is an avid mountain biker, serves on the board of Think Local First and has lived in Santa Cruz since 1993. 

Robert Komoto

International Trade & Exporting

He has extensive experience in international trade and has been certified by NASBITE (National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators) as a Certified Global Business Professional and by the Small Business Development Centers as a Certified Export and Trade Counselor.
Export trade is not a panacea for an ailing business, he said, but a solid export plan can open up amazing opportunities. “Ninety-five percent of the world’s population live outside the U.S.,” he said.
Komoto said he enjoys mentoring small business owners and helping them understand new ways of looking at their business. “You’re not just selling a widget,” he said, so owners need to understand the value add that is unique to their particular enterprise.

David Mancera

Agricultural Business

Solid background in organizational analysis, with strong analytical, relationship, partnership management, and customer service skills. Experience in managing a wide array of projects and relationships, including (but not limited to) business partners, vendors, internal and external customers. Skilled in aligning strategy and relationships, mentoring, and coaching, while acting as an essential contributor and strategic partner.

Brandon Napoli


Brandon has over twelve years of progressive responsibility in economic and workforce development. This includes six years of management experience with an M.B.A and three years working and studying overseas.  Having a track record of exceeding goals while scaling operations in new markets and programs, he is passionate about combining high-quality technical assistance, access to capital, and partnerships for small business ecosystem building.

In 2006, inspired by Muhammad Yunus’ Nobel Peace Prize for his work in microfinance, Brandon started his career to build dignity and create jobs through access to capital for underserved entrepreneurs at CDC Small Business Finance.  After receiving his MBA, Brandon joined the Peace Corps in Guatemala. He assisted the small business development efforts in ecotourism, focusing on providing an alternative income to subsistence farming. After returning to the States, Brandon supported entrepreneurs at higher levels.  As the Director of Microlending at Valley Economic Development Center, he grew the portfolio to top 5 in the US and testified to the US Congress on the State of Microlending. Afterward, Brandon raised and managed an investment fund for microlenders across the US. In 2016, he responded to a passion to intersect community building and entrepreneurship and relocated to Palo Alto to create coworking spaces for the underserved workforce.  He is thrilled to be a part of the incredible legacy of the Santa Cruz SBDC and the impact it has on the small business community.

Brandon enjoys reading non-fiction, epics, practicing jiu-jitsu, and bike touring.

Jake Nelson


Jake is originally from Minnesota. After living and learning to surf in Santa Cruz after High School, Jake returned to Minnesota and opened a large Web Design & Development agency with a focus on eCommerce. His agency served clients globally including brands such as Thomson Reuters, Target & Cirrus Aircraft (among dozens of other startups and small, indy brands).

After selling his company in 2015, Jake moved to Brazil with his wife for a period of time and recently turned stateside. He chose Santa Cruz as his new hometown and a place to lay down roots, build a family, and develop his career in business leadership, technology, and surf.

After initially working as a Shaper's Assistant at a local surfboard factory, Jake is now putting his experience in technology to good use as an eCommerce Advisor at the Santa Cruz SBDC. He is also working on his own apparel and hardgoods brand inspired by legendary watermen & women of the past.

Bob Norton

Legal, Purchasing and Selling

Bob Norton retired from his business brokerage 6 years ago after over 150 successful sales transactions and has been actively working to help improve the quality of life for his neighbors and friends in Aptos.   He has been involved with the Aptos Chamber Board for 13 years serving on the executive board, board president, and chair of the 4th of July Parade Committee for the past 13 years.  Bob has served two terms of 8 years total on the Board of Directors and past Board President of Above the Line dedicated to providing housing, education, placement and other vital services to at-risk children and youth.  

Recognizing that 1 in 4 children in Santa Cruz County are food challenged, Bob’s current passion is for Second Harvest where he chairs the Second Harvest’s Board of Trustees, which he joined in 2011.   Bob’s 36 years of experience in the grocery industry, including president of a Bay Area distribution company provides a depth of experience and clarity to distribution, logistics, and personnel challenges at Second Harvest. 

Molly O'Kane

Digital Marketing & Social Media

Molly is a small business coach and digital marketing expert that has a different approach to helping entrepreneurs build a successful business from scratch with limited money and time. With over a decade of experience managing projects in collaborative leadership as an online marketing consultant, Molly teaches classes and coaches small business owners on social media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and online advertising, to help prepare small businesses like you.

Stacy Patyk


Stacy has over 25 years of experience in the development and execution of operational and financial business process automation/software with a specialty in Mergers & Acquisitions. She is an M.B.A., and holds a B.S. in Finance, Economics Minor from San Jose State University. After working for major Silicon Valley corporations for over 20 years, Stacy started her accounting/bookkeeping business in Santa Cruz County to assist businesses with their accounting and operational process requirements. Her detail-oriented work is a value-add for businesses who need their set-of-books 'cleaned-up' and standardized to provide an accurate financial reflection of their business.

Alexander Pedersen


Mechanical Engineering Major at Cabrillo College

Tiffany Phillips

Social Media Marketing

Specializing in content creation and curation, social strategy, account management, paid advertising, and more. My ideal clients are small to medium-sized businesses who need help in managing a branded, cohesive and consistent social media marketing policy. I also specialize in small town public relations and event coordination. 

Patrick Reilly

Intellectual Property, Patents and Contracts

Patrick Reilly, Esq.  is an intellectual property ("IP") consultant with the TECH FUTURES GROUP, the founder of Intellectual Property Society, and a practicing IP attorney.  His law practice encompasses patent prosecution, creative rights management, IP issues of start-up formation, trademark prosecution and assertion, copyright protection and assertion, and trade secret policy.  Patrick has a special commitment to encourage civic engagement with the evolution of intellectual property law, personal data rights and Internet identity.

He is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in Russian Language Studies, and has earned a BS in Sociology from the State University of New York, a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toledo and a JD from Concord Law School. Patrick is a member of the U.S. Patent Bar and the California State Bar.


Trademarks, copyrights, contracts and more, it’s all included in the category of intellectual property. Watch as SBDC IP Advisor, Patrick Reilly shares his advice with SBDC Ambassador + Marketing Advisor, Bryce Root on what you need to keep in mind when it comes to protecting your company’s assets. Patrick gets right to the point so take his advice to heart if you are creating something of value that is considered the basis of your operation.

Take the next step and apply for free consultation from the SBDC and receive an in depth review of your precise situation from an appropriate advisor including Patrick and the rest of our team.


Bryce Root

Branding & Marketing

As a career marketing strategist, Bryce Root has always held many different marketing roles for organizations ranging from non-profits to global ad agencies and large-scale retail destinations attracting shoppers in the tens of millions. Over the last 20 years, Bryce has acquired a highly diverse skill set that he has now packaged to help California’s ever-growing Central Coast business community.  As the owner of a regional business marketing consultancy, Bryce provides comprehensive marketing services to new and established businesses across all industries who want to elevate their traffic, sales, and overall brand exposure and it’s this unique experience that he brings to his work with the SBDC.

Bryce graduated with a BA degree from Pacific Lutheran University in Recreation Management and Exercise Science, which he used to open his own professional cycling coaching business upon graduation while four short years later he graduated from the University of San Francisco with a MA degree in Sports Business with a concentration in Sports Marketing.



Are you wondering what it will take to evolve your marketing to catch up with the technological habits of your target customers? Here are three quick tips from SBDC Marketing Advisor, Bryce Root on how you can take some baby steps in getting their attention in your quest to stay relevant with them.

Take the next step and apply for free consultation from the SBDC and receive an in depth review of your precise situation from an appropriate advisor including Bryce and the rest of our team.




Matthew Swinnerton

Social Media & Event Planning

Matthew Swinnerton is the Program Director of Santa Cruz Works, and the founder of Event Santa Cruz. He also is a host of a local radio show promoting the doers in our community. He specializes in social media, creative marketing, event hosting & logistics and video production. Matthew is a huge supporter of local small businesses. His favorite non work activities include road trips with his family, spending time on the beach and climbing in Joshua Tree.

Cathy Van Loon


Cathy has been an accounting advisor for SBDC since 2014. She has taught a variety of accounting courses at Cabrillo College since 1985 She also maintains a private accounting services business for small businesses and non profit organizations.

Cathy brings to small business owners and managers a comprehensive understanding of elements necessary for presenting accurate and reliable financial reports on which to base intelligent business decisions. She specializes in troubleshooting and correcting accounting software issues.

Currently, Cathy teaches QuickBooks Online at the college level and Basic Recordkeeping through Extension Workshops. Advanced certification as an Intuit QuickBooks Pro Advisor is maintained. She now specializes in all cloud-based, QuickBooks Online versions.

Cathy holds a B.A. in both Environmental Studies and Political Science and an M.A. in Management Studies all from Sonoma State University, California.

Vinicio Marco Vides

Bilingual Business Management & Financial Analysis

Provides business advise to business owners determining their financial position, when reviewing and analyzing their Financial Statements. Creates and develops business plans for start ups or existing businesses. Work with Cities and/or Economic Development organizations creating economic, education and incentive programs for their communities and businesses.

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It all starts here. Complete the application and submit your request. A member of the SBDC will follow up with you and help you achieve your small business goals -- at no cost to you.


As concerns continue about coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re here to help you navigate available resources, answer your business questions and be a trusted partner for your business
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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.