Meet Our Leadership Team

Karen Delaney, Executive Director, smiles brightly while holding the heart of the Volunteer Center logo.

Karen Delaney – Executive Director | email:

Karen's passion for volunteering started as a child and grows stronger every day. She has led our Volunteer Center for more than 30 years and is an internationally recognized leader, trainer, and speaker in 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, MSML- Director of Impact & Programs

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.


Leslie Lee - Director of Community Engagement

Leslie is committed to building strong, heart-centered connections through volunteerism.  She believes that when people work in service for causes they care about, everybody thrives -- and collectively, we create a more compassionate and supportive community for all.


Christina Thurston – Director of Volunteer Engagement

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 and Education. She's passionate about creating inclusive communities, watching foreign films, exploring the outdoors and finding ways for people to connect.

Kathryn Sanchez - Director of Accounting

Kathryn’s story began at the Volunteer Center 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.


Donna Patters - Director of Human Resources

In 2014 Donna joined the Volunteer Center Staff. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Administration from San Jose State University and brings over 25 years of H.R. experience to the Volunteer Center. Donna has been part of several  Volunteer Center programs, coordinating the Senior Transportation Program, Graffiti Removal Program, The Volunteer Initiative Program and Adopt A family Program before becoming the Human Resources Director. Donna spends her time outside of work at Quail Hollow Ranch with her horses, riding the trails and visiting other equestrian parks. She also enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.


Tara Ireland- Empowered Aging Director

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.


Dagny Blaskovich, LCSW - Clinical Director

Dagny joined the Volunteer Center as a Master of Social Work intern in the Opportunity Connection program in 2013 and never left. Over the last 9 years, she has become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has had the pleasure to provide clinical support to the Community Connection programs as the Clinical Director for the last year and a half. While she enjoys the administrative role she is now in, Dagny also continues to enjoy providing direct services to the participants. Dagny finds joy in empowering others to advocate for themselves, believe in their abilities, and achieve their goals.


Kayla Olinger- Wellness Connect Program Director

Kayla believes it to be an honor to support folks on their journeys through the vast mental health, employment, educational, and carceral systems in Santa Cruz County. Holding a BA in Psychology from the University of California Santa Cruz, Kayla has experience as an instructional assistant at UCSC, as a co-creator and facilitator of Healthy Relationship workshops at Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Domestic Violence Resource Center, working with the Transitional Age Youth department at Encompass Community Services as a mental health counselor, and Coordinating the College Connection Program at Cabrillo College. Kayla strives to create positive change in the community while recognizing the diversity, intersectionality, and resilience that makes each person unique and worthy. Outside of work, Kayla enjoys volunteering at Santa Cruz SPCA and hiking in the majestic forests nearby. Kayla hopes to get the chance to fortify the wellness of our community and its members.


Angela Cline – Volunteer Center Board of Directors President

Angela Cline is the Director of Business & Financial Analysis for Colleges, Housing & Educational Services at University of California, Santa Cruz. Angela joined UCSC in 2016 & has over 25 years of experience, being a passionate andstrategic leader in finance & operations. Prior to joining UCSC, she was both the Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer for United Way & First 5 Santa Cruz County. Angela made great impacts where children were ready to succeed in school and life, investing in early learning, healthy living, family support & stability. An advocate for social justice & equity, Angela currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, is a past President and Treasurer of Monarch Services & is an active committee member & volunteer for several other nonprofit organizations. Angela’s greatest strengths are her drive & leadership to create sustainable change. When she is not doing the work she loves, Angela enjoys reading, spending time with her family & giving back to the community.