Meet Our Leadership Team


Karen Delaney – Executive Director

Karen has a passion for volunteering that started as a child and grows stronger everyday.    She has lead our Volunteer Center for more than 30 years and is an internationally recognized leader, trainer and speaker in the field of volunteerism, community building and nonprofit management.  She gave the Keynote Address at the first Argentine National Conference of NGOs in 2001; serves on the Board of the Points of Light Foundation and is currently the President of the National Affiliate Council for Volunteer Centers & Hands On Network.  Here in Santa Cruz, she cofounded Save Our Shores and the Human Care Alliance, was the first Board President of LifeLab Science Programs and has served on dozens of Boards and Commissions over the years.  Karen’s formula for success is “hope, fun, curiosity, gratitude, belief in people and good data.”


Shawn Peterson- Associate Director

Shawn is passionate about bringing community together to create sustainable change. He is an advocate of utilizing data-driven, strength-based programming to serve adults, families, and children experiencing stigma, behavioral health challenges, and socio-economic difficulties. He believes that every individual has something meaningful to contribute to our community, and our job is to help them uncover it.


Trēa Robinson- Director of Community Engagement

Trēa started at the Volunteer Center as a volunteer and shortly after joined the mental health division of the organization. Her passion for connecting all people in Santa Cruz County for good and her involvement in many of the Volunteer Center’s programs have made her a clear leader. As a team member of the Personnel Committee, Development Committee and our Staff Representative on the Volunteer Center's Board of Directors, Trēa has demonstrated that her commitment to the Volunteer Center and Santa Cruz County runs deep. Trēa is a proud mom of a middle and high-schooler and her second full-time job is schlepping her kids to their various activities. She enjoys photography, art, and design projects with her husband and her happy place is at the beach.


Christina Thurston – Director of Volunteer Connections

Christina first joined the Volunteer Center team when she was in high school, volunteering with the YouthSERVE program. She stayed local and attended UC Santa Cruz earning a degree in Community Studies. She's passionate about creating inclusive communities and serves on the board for the Watsonville High School ECHO Academy.  She loves traveling, watching foreign films, exploring the outdoors and finding ways for people to connect.




Kathryn Sanchez - Director of Finance

Kathryn’s story began at the Volunteer Center on 1010 Emeline Street in 2002. During her tenure she has witnessed the growth, ups and downs, and the incredible energy and passion of all who bring the spirit of volunteerism to the Volunteer Center. This has inspired her dedication to stewarding our funds, keeping our budget balanced, and maintaining our financial relationships. Outside of work, Kathryn's passion is playing the piano, which she traces back to the first time she sat and played with her father at the age of five. This experience planted a seed for the love of music. Playing the piano and singing bring her joy and comfort after a hard day of crunching numbers. Kathryn also enjoys creating her own music.


Tara Ireland- Senior Programs Manager

Tara joined the Volunteer Center in 2015. She holds a B.A. in Business Management from San Jose State University. She is a Certified Master Trainer for A Matter of Balance, fall prevention program. Tara has extensive experience in program development and management. She is passionate and engaged in non-profit collaborations that support senior independence and reduce isolation. Outside of work she is an avid hot springs explorer and ocean swimmer.

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Barbara Bautz – Volunteer Center Board President

Barbara Bautz is President of the Board of Directors of the Volunteer Center.  She has been active on the Board for eight years.  Barbara holds a PH.D. in child psychology.  Prior to her move to Santa Cruz County, she was a tenured professor for twenty-five years on the East Coast.  Barbara became acquainted with the Volunteer Center in 1979 when her mother, Thora H. Bautz, became active in the Literacy Program.  In 2007, Barbara’s father, Dr. Marshall Bautz, spearheaded the fundraising campaign for the “new” building located at 1740 17th Avenue.

“The Volunteer Center is very dear to my heart,” says Barbara. “Volunteer with us!”


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