Board of Directors

Think Local First wouldn’t exist without the volunteer service of local business owners. The following people feel passionately that locally-owned businesses are vital to a unique, self-contained community. By contributing their time and energy, they make the organization happen.

Jill Sollitto, Modern Life Home Furnishings
Co-Chair & Steering Committee Member (term expires 2017)

Jill has lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Soquel for over 20
years. She worked in technology and non-profit management before
purchasing Modern Life.
Creating beauty within her home and garden has always been a passion in
life. Inspiration for Modern Life is an integrative design concept of
modern, timeless, cultural and spiritual elements that reflect balance and
beauty. Santa Cruz is the perfect environment that inspires our community
to bring these design elements into their home.


Peter Neuwald, ANB Insurance Services
Co=Chair & Steering Committee Member (term expires 2017)

For close to 30 years, Peter Neuwald has been a co-owner of ANB Insurance Services, a long-time locally owned business that has been part of the Santa Cruz business world for almost 100 years. After growing up in Central California, Peter has accumulated a solid academic background that includes a B.S. from the Haas School of Business in Berkeley plus an MBA from Pepperdine University. His career started in Washington D.C., where he worked six years for the Federal Government, before he entered into the insurance world.

In Washington, he sang in the bass section of the Washington Cathedral Choral Society. Later on in Santa Cruz, Peter has become a self-confessed hoops gym-rat in “semi-retirement.”


Michael Olson, KSCO Radio
Director & Spokesperson (term expires 2018)
Michael OlsonA Montana native, veteran of the US Navy, and UCSC graduate in English & Chinese Literature, Michael Olson is an active agriculturalist, journalist, and businessman. As an agriculturalist, he has worked commercial farms in California, Montana, and Oregon; designed, manufactured, and sold a registered organic fertilizer into the national marketplace; and consults for specialty agriculture projects throughout the world. As a journalist, he wrote and photographed feature stories for the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner newspapers; produced and filmed documentaries for NBC, ABC, Australian Broadcast Commission, and KQED Public Television; authored MetroFarm, a PMA Ben Franklin Book-of-the-Year award winner, and Tales From a Tin Can, a World War II oral history; and produces and hosts Food Chain Radio, a nationally-syndicated talk show. As a business person, he is co-owner of the MO MultiMedia Group and General Manager of locally-owned KSCO & KOMY radio stations, where he proudly helps locally-owned businesses go up against national chains and win!


Peter Beckmann, Beckmann’s Bakery
Director & Co-Founder (term expires 2018)
Beckmann picPeter Beckmann was born and raised in Heidelberg, Germany. After a traditional four-year apprenticeship in the hospitality industry in Austria, Peter lived several years in France and Mexico before settling in California. In November 1985, he founded Beckmann’s Old World Bakery, where he currently serves as President on the Board of Directors. Peter’s academic career includes an AA from Cabrillo College, two BAs in Philosophy and International Economics from UCSC, and two semesters of graduate studies in Economics. Peter is a novice beekeeper, an enthusiastic gardener, and his favorite place to hang out is in the high Sierras. He has also been seen playing carols on his accordion in his neighborbood around the Holidays.


Karl Heiman, Caffe Pergolesi & Mr. Toots Coffee House
Marketing Chair & Co-Founder (term expires 2018)
Karl Heiman, together with his wife, owns two businesses in Santa Cruz for the last 8 years. Prior to that Karl was in the Semiconductor business as Director of Marketing and Business Development at several different large companies for almost 20 years.  Karl has been on the Board of the Santa Cruz Downtown Business Association for 3 years and the Downtown Commission for almost 2 years.  In addition, Karl is one of the co-founders of the Independent Coffeehouse Association of Santa Cruz and an amateur Paleontologist supporting the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum.


Stephanie Wilks, Physicians Medical Group
Director & Marketing Committee Chairperson (term expires 2017)
Originally from New England, Stephanie found her heart’s home in Santa Cruz County. After getting her undergraduate degree in Economics and then going on to earn her masters degree in Ireland, she eventually settled in Santa Cruz. Stephanie quickly became involved with Think Local First in order to help sustain the very thing that had attracted her to Santa Cruz County in the first place: social and economic diversity. As the Director of Business Development for Physicians Medical Group, she is dedicated to supporting the sustained independence of hundreds of independent physicians and their practices in Santa Cruz County.


Kimberly Parrish, Parrish Art & Design
Director & Ad Designer (term expires 2018)
Kimberly is our resident artist whose favorite medium is printmaking, though she has her hands in many forms: painting, creating and playing music, video production and acting, to name a few. Her love of the arts led her to study fine art at UC Davis, where she received a bachelors degree in Design.

She has put her talents to fine use as the founder and co-owner of Zag Design Group – a multi-faceted graphic and web design firm based in Santa Cruz, California in addition to collaborating as a strategic partner with Digital Media Factory.

With a real zest for life, Kimberly might be found loving life out in the surf, skiing down a mountain slope, taking on a trail in the redwoods or getting in the groove as a Kuumbwa Jazz Center volunteer.

She approaches her work with Think Local First with the same gusto: in addition to wrangling much of the TLF print design, Kimberly serves as a board member as well as on the steering and marketing committees.


Lydia Corser, Greenspace
Director & Steering Committee Member (term expires 2018)

Lydia Corser is a lifelong environmentalist, and owner of two local businesses. She started her interior design business, Eco Interiors, in 1995, and greenspace, a green home improvement store in 2006. She is delighted to be joining the TLF board in 2017 to give back to an organization that was supportive of greenspace through the economic downturn.

In her spare time, Lydia loves to swim, bike, bird watch, garden, knit, bake and put up jam & pickles.


Karen Kefauver, Writer, Photographer, Bike Columnist & Social Media Coach
Director & Steering Committee Member (term expires 2018)

Karen Kefauver chose to live in Santa Cruz at age 23 because she was bewitched by the redwoods, the bay and the bicycling. A native of Washington, D.C., she assumed she’d land in a bigger city. But the siren song of Santa Cruz led her to spontaneously settle there after a brief visit — and four frosty years at the University of Vermont.

She fell in love with the community thanks to her first job as Arts Editor at Good Times. Toastmasters, Bike to Work and yoga were also prime passions. Later, she launched a 20+-year freelance journalism career specializing in feature stories about adventure travel and endurance sports. Her photos and stories appeared regularly in the San Jose Mercury News, the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday magazine.

She also served as a public relations consultant with the City of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Since the dawn of Twitter, Karen has guided dozens of local businesses with their social media strategy and continues to do so through coaching, speaking and teaching. Her bicycling column, Spin City, appears monthly in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.