Meet Our Staff

BIO

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Heidi Boynton
Executive Director

Heidi joined Jacob’s Heart in 2020 after years of working in the nonprofit sector building programs, fundraising, and connecting the community through events and partnerships. Heidi works to build relationships within the communities we serve to support the work of Jacob’s Heart and ensure families are cared for without interruption. Building community, ensuring everyone feels welcome, heard, and valued is important to her and by connecting businesses, community groups, and volunteers to the work at Jacob’s Heart she lives out her values every day. Heidi is a 21 year cancer survivor and you can learn more about her by watching her TedX Santa Cruz talk here.

BIO

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Brittany Maldonado-Gosline
Director of Operations
Director of Grief Support

Brittany is an advocate and companion for grieving children. She is dedicated to honor the experience of loving and losing her little brother, Corbin to cancer by walking alongside bereaved siblings at Jacob’s Heart. Brittany brings ten years of experience in business development for companies focused on well-being, allowing her professional background combined with her personal experience to forge a sustainable future for Jacob’s Heart and families going through the unimaginable. Brittany has experience as an EMT and is a Certified Kids Yoga Teacher giving an extra element to the way she helps care for families and support the team.

BIO

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Mary Smith
Director of Programs

Bilingual/Bicultural

Mary joined Jacob’s Heart in 2018 as a Family Support Specialist.  Prior to Jacob’s Heart, she was a Social Worker for the Department of Children and Family Services for 20 years, working with children and families involved in the foster care system.  

 

Mary’s role at Jacob’s Heart  is to ensure that families receive compassionate and individualized support and guidance as they face medical challenges and beyond. 

 

When her niece had complex medical needs, Mary saw first hand how much her support team  made a difference in her family’s ability to face challenges and celebrate milestones. Mary is a graduate of San Jose State University with a Bachelor’s in Social Work.

BIO

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Anjanette Brannon, LMFT
Clinical Director

Bilingual/Bicultural

Anjanette comes to Jacob's Heart with 17 years of experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has worked with children, adults, and families in settings such as non-profits, local government as well as the private sector. She has joined the Jacob's Heart family to help develop and grow the counseling program. Her other responsibilities include oversight of the clinical team as they coordinate care with multi-disciplinary teams involved in the care of the children. These counseling support services are also provided to their caregivers and families. Anjanette's focus is to wrap around the children and their families to compassionately provide care during challenging times.

BIO

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Daniela Ramirez
Senior Family Support Specialist

Bilingual/Bicultural

Daniela joined Jacob’s Heart 3 years ago as an intern from California State University Monterey Bay. Daniela loved her experience as an intern. The meaningful connections she formed with Jacob’s Heart families ignited a deep desire for her to be a person of support for families.  As a Family Support Specialist, Daniela works directly with families of Jacob’s Heart. Daniela’s main goal is to meet families where they’re at and be a caring, compassionate, and reliable resource. Daniela currently lives in Los Banos with her partner, 2 children, and 2 dogs. 

BIO

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Sandy Montes
Family Support Specialist

Bilingual/Bicultural

Experiencing first-hand how support from the community can help someone succeed in life is what sparked Sandy's passion for giving back to her community. Sandy has had many roles within Jacob’s Heart that have strengthened her knowledge to meet the psychological needs of families. Now as a Family Support Specialist Sandy works alongside families establishing strong relationships and supporting their individual needs. Sandy is currently pursuing her Master’s of Social Work at CSUMB to be able to promote social justice, work with communities that are marginalized and plans to become a bicultural/bilingual therapist helping families navigate the journeys they face.

BIO

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Esmeralda Rivera Luna
Family Support Specialist

Bilingual/Bicultural

During Esme’s last year of college, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through her family’s journey with this illness, their social worker made a huge positive impact in their lives. This is when Esme knew that she wanted to become a Medical Social Worker, to give back to others when facing challenging times. Esme noticed how important it is to have a strong support system to be able to focus on the care of their loved one, and is now honored to provide support and meet family’s needs as a Family Support Specialist. Esme received her bachelor’s degree in Collaborative Health and Human Services with a concentration in Social Work from California State University Monterey Bay and plans to continue her education in the Social work field.

BIO

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Paola Montes
Community Engagement Coordinator

Bilingual/Bicultural

Paola's eagerness to learn and her great work ethic have made her a perfect addition to the Development team. Paola coordinates community events and connects with organizations and community members. She also coordinates our volunteer program and helps community members learn the impact and importance of volunteering. She is currently studying Psychology at the California State University of Monterey Bay with plans to become a child therapist. When she’s not working or studying, she is spending her time with her daughter.

BIO

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Luis Mojica
Events Coordinator

Bilingual/Bicultural

Luis was connected with Jacob’s Heart through his education at CSUMB where he is in the process of getting his bachelor's degree in Collaborative Health and Human Services. Starting as an intern Luis quickly found his way in our organization through event planning. Luis aims to help Jacob’s Heart grow through fun and creative ways so that we are better able to serve the families in our communities.

BIO

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Allyssa Gil-Ojeda
Development and Communications Coordinator

Allyssa joined Jacob’s Heart team in 2022, after finishing up her last semester at California State University East Bay. While in school she studied Business Administration with a concentration in marketing management and worked at a nonprofit for four years as an assisted living service staff for special needs adults. Allyssa looks forward to helping grow the social media presence of Jacob’s Heart so that she can continue to help and service families who are in need. Allyssa currently lives in South Santa Clara County and spends her free time hanging out with her family, friends, and pets. In the future she looks forward to expanding her educational horizons and hopes to receive an MBA.

BIO

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Valeria Vazquez
Transportation and Full Hearts Manager

Bilingual/Bicultural

Growing up, Valeria always had a passion for helping others and bringing people together. As the middle child of six siblings, unity and collaboration played a huge role in forming her values. It taught her not only patience but the knowledge and desire to want to help others in any way possible. She knows from first-hand experience that a small act of kindness can impact someone's life in a positive way, and continues to do this in her role at Jacob's Heart. Valeria helps families meet their basic needs by managing the Transportation Program, Full Hearts Grocery Program, and Caroline's Closet

BIO

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Yuritza Arciga
Family Center Coordinator
Bilingual/Bicultural

Seeing the smiles on families’ faces as they walk into our facility brings joy to Yuritza's heart. She loves coming to work every day knowing that we are making an impact on children’s lives and giving families the resources they need. Yuritza bring compassion, generosity, and devotion to families, donors, volunteers, and anyone that walks through our doors. Having a daughter with a heart problem motivates her to want to help families going through hardships and motivates her to continue her path in social work. 

BIO

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Dr. Lily Rich, Psy
Director of Clinical Counseling Services

Lily Rich volunteered at Jacob’s Heart during her first year of college and helped grow our programs back in 1999. Inspired by what she learned at Jacob’s Heart, Dr. Rich went on to receive her doctorate in clinical psychology from Argosy University in 2008 and has been working with clients in the San Francisco and Santa Cruz areas since 2009. In 2012 she transitioned from a position at Mills Hospital where she worked with seniors, adults and adolescents. Through her program, Healing at Home Dr. Rich returned to Jacob’s Heart in 2015 to serve as a clinical psychologist and direct our counseling services.

BIO

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Darcy Swisher, RN, BSN, CCRN
Program Director for Camp Heart + Hands

Darcy Swisher is Jacob’s Heart program director for Camp Heart and Hands. The Camp provides children or adolescents with cancer and their families a unique experience to forget about their disease and create bonds with other families enduring pediatric cancer.

Darcy brings nineteen years of experience from American Cancer Society’s Camp Reach for the Stars. A similar Camp where she grew up in San Luis Obispo county. Over the past fourteen years she has worked as a nurse at Stanford Children’s Hospital in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Her dream was to bring the special experience Camp provides to the patients and families at Stanford Children’s. 

BIO

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Kelli Cook
Bookkeeper

Kelli brings her positive energy, years of bookkeeping experience and her passion to serve children with cancer and their families. Kelli knows first-hand the uncertainty and loneliness that accompanies this time, which is what drives her working for an organization that comes alongside families receiving a diagnosis and the journey beyond, giving them hope, assistance, and a shoulder to lean on. Kelli ensures our insides look like our outsides; executing our financial controls and daily bookkeeping, making certain our financial health remains in excellent working order to benefit the families we serve.

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Tzitziqui Romero, MSW
Therapist
Bilingual/Bicultural

Tzitziqui was raised in Watsonville, California. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Sociology at Cal State Long Beach and later went on to earn her Master's degree in Social Work. She believes that while working with people during the most challenging times of their lives can be difficult, it's also a time when their true resiliency shines. She strives to help people identify their resiliency to keep moving forward.