Our mission is to provide the highest level of advocacy and rights protection for the clients we serve while affording the general community with information and assistance about long-term care, quality of life/care issues, mental health issues, and pre-facility placement procedures and guidelines.
Advocacy, Inc. is an independent, non-profit agency serving Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. It grew out of a few dedicated individuals who were concerned with the standard of care and quality of life that patients in local nursing homes were receiving. The group incorporated as a non-profit organization, Citizens for Better Nursing Home Care, in 1975. In 1986 we changed our name to Ombudsman/Advocate, Inc., and in 2006 we settled into our new legal name ADVOCACY, INC. The agency operates the federally- and state mandated Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and the Patients’ Rights Advocate Program. We are dedicated to helping people who live in nursing homes, residential care, and mental health facilities. As advocates, it is our responsibility to express the concerns and complaints of the individuals we serve, seeking resolution and remedy from their perspective.
Suzanne has over thirty years’ experience as an executive director of Therapeutic Treatment Programs for youth, and as the administrator of Long-term Care Facilities including Independent, Assisted Living, and Memory Care Communities. She began her professional career as a social worker in an adolescent mental health treatment program and quickly rose to the position of executive director. She expanded the program to include a homeless youth residential program and a collaboration with what is now Encompass Services. She also developed an intensive treatment foster care component of the agency’s foster care program which enabled children with serious mental health diagnosis to live with families rather than be institutionalized. She has served as an officer on various state and local and nonprofit agency boards. Her entire professional career has been devoted to serving the needs of vulnerable populations from children to seniors. Her vast experience in the mental health field, as well as Senior Living Communities, has been a great asset in leading Advocacy Inc. as its executive director.
Marnie joined Advocacy, Inc in 2019. She has a passion for helping the elderly and found Advocacy a good fit. She enjoys biking, reading and playing the cajon with the local Santa Cruz ukulele group.
Chief Patients' Rights Advocate
I was hired by the Ombudsman Advocate program in 1992, I gave that program a two-year commitment over twenty plus years ago. Time indeed, does fly. It’s been a privilege to work with individuals in the mental health system to resolve, complaints concerns, or ongoing issues. Prior to this, I worked with the homeless population for Supportive Outreach Services, assisting individuals to navigate the social security administration as well as local government funding, in so doing, I experienced firsthand the hardships people face in an attempt to seek food or housing I love Santa Cruz County. It is a tremendous privilege to assist in empowering individuals in the exercise their rights within the Mental Health System.
Patients' Rights Advocate
Davi Schill has worked with Advocacy, Inc as a Patient Rights Advocate since 2000. She received her B.A. degree in Sociology from UCSC and has her graduate degree in Educational Counseling from San Jose State University. She is passionate about Advocacy and serving the Mental Health community in Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties by ensuring that consumers of Mental Health services are informed of and assisted in making sure their civil, legal and human rights are upheld.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Coordinator
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Representative
Hi, my name is Patsy Pence. I was born, raised, got my AA degree in Humanities from Gavlin College, married, worked and had my family in San Benito County. I was active in 4-H, school activities, and church. Even though we left San Benito County in 1986, my husband and I returned for good in 1998. I started my training as a Long-Term Care Ombudsman with Advocacy, Inc. in the fall of 2003, becoming a certified LTC Ombudsman in March 2004. I work in both San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. Prior to my work with Advocacy, I was appointed by the San Benito County Board of Supervisors to the In-Home Supportive Services Program in August of 2001. This program worked to plan and design the Public Authority Registry of San Benito County. I was an appointed member of the In-Home Supportive Services Advisory Committee in August 2003. During my time on this committee, I also served as a Vice Chair & Chair person. I now serve on the San Benito County Aging and Long-Term Care Commission (ALTCC) being appointed approximately in 2004-2005. I have held the office of Secretary, Vice Chair, and Chairperson while on the ALTCC. I am an active member of my church, serving on committees, councils and other activities and programs.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Representative
Feather has been a staff Ombudsman with Advocacy, Inc. since 2017. She began training as a Volunteer Ombudsman in 2013, and was certified as a volunteer in 2014. Feather was passionately drawn to become an advocate after watching her grandmother, who suffered from dementia have her rights and wishes completely disregarded prior to her passing. Sadly, she and her family were unaware of residents rights, which could have ultimately protected her grandmother from unnecessary suffering at the end of her life. As a Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Feather is dedicated to helping ensure that our most vulnerable residents and their families are aware of those rights. She is determined to assist when necessary, as an expressed wish Advocate for residents in Skilled Nursing and Residential Care Facilities.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Representative
Hi, I’m Doreen Alfaro and I’ve been a Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Santa Cruz County for seven years now. I first began as a volunteer about five years ago and transitioned to staff for the past two years. Prior to that, I was a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association for 20 years. I worked in Santa Clara County in High Tech for 30 years where I also served on the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross. I retired eight years ago and live here in Aptos with my husband, Art.
Dean Lundholm is the President of the Advocacy, Inc. Board of Directors. Dean is a Retired Optical Systems Engineer. In the past, he has been a Builder/Developer, an affordable housing advocate, and a community organizer through COPA (Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action). Dean was also a Commissioner on the Santa Cruz County Housing Advisory Commission and a Member of the Harbor High School Site Council. He has two children and three grandchildren and has been a Santa Cruz County resident for 30 plus years.
Rev. Russ Menk has been serving the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Santa Cruz County (UUFSCC) in Aptos, CA since 2013. He graduated from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California with a Master of Divinity degree in 2013. He had a prior career in aerospace where he worked in middle management positions in a wide variety of roles for 29 years. Along that path, he earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA.
Rev. Russ has a life focus on helping people to achieve balanced and satisfying lives. This is challenging for most people, but monumental for those who circumstance makes it difficult to speak for themselves. He joined Advocacy, Inc in February 2017 to help people living in the margins of our society to achieve some control in their life decisions.
Manny Reyes has been actively advocating for youth, seniors, and their families throughout the central coast region for more than a decade. He is currently a trained mediator for The Center of Conflict Resolution, providing education about restorative justice in the community. Manny has been involved in various community efforts, providing space for community members to be actively engaged in civic engagement opportunities. He spends most of his time establishing programs for youth and seniors in Santa Cruz County.
Hi, I'm Lew Hinchcliffe RN (retired)
I spent my entire career in Nursing in the Emergency Department at Kaiser Permanente. I am aware of the challenges of long-term care, I understand the functions of ombudsman representatives, and I was always a hands-on patient advocate in the critical care of all ranges of patients from neonatal to conserved elderly. I live here in Santa Cruz and enjoy all the beauty, and the people here. I enjoy playing music on the ukulele, playing on the beach and all outdoors activities in and out of the surf. I recently joined the Advocacy Board on the recommendation of my friend Marnie. I remember saying to myself, "serving on the board of Advocacy, Inc. just seems like the next "right" thing to do in my life as I enter retirement from frontline nursing, and continue to advocate for patients and protect their rights.