Most Positive Influential Women of Scotts Valley
The top 25 female community contributors in Scotts Valley are honored April 11 at a relaxed event at Cruise Coffee. Instead of being a popularity contest, the list attempted to shine a light on women who make a true difference. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Claudia Amling, who lives on the westside of Santa Cruz, arrived in Scotts Valley on Thursday to celebrate a friend who she says is nothing short of amazing.

Adina Licht was one of the influential women being honored during an informal soirée at Cruise Coffee.

“She’s so supportive that it almost blows my mind,” Amling said. “She’s always ‘more.’”

The “25 Most Positive Influential Women of Scotts Valley in 2024” get-together was a way to give props to the true influencers in the community—not the people who’ve learned to game the social media algorithms.

Amling said she was happy to see Licht included on this social power ranking.

“She’s just very thoughtful,” she said. “People are having a different life because of her, in my humble opinion.”

Most Positive Influential Women of Scotts Valley
Mari Rossi (from left), Miranda Leung and Brand-di Palmer bask in the evening sunshine. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Mari Rossi, 60, is a philanthropist who works with many organizations, not least of which are the schools and the senior center.

“My mom always said, ‘If you see a need, you fill it,’” she said. “I’m all about raising-up other women.”

Erin Buchla, 55, said her mom was thrilled to see her daughter featured on the list.

“‘You made one of the top 25,’” her mom exclaimed, she recalled. “She was crying.”

Buchla thought it might be fun to gather the people named in the post, since she didn’t even know several of them. So, she decided to throw an impromptu event at Cruise Coffee, her business at the Scotts Valley Transit Center.

“I thought it’d be a fun way to mix it up,” she said. “I didn’t know how many people would show up.”

Most Positive Influential Women of Scotts Valley
Attendees mill about inside. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Monica Aldana, 50, a Parent Teacher Fellowship president at Baymont Christian School (and wife of Robert Aldana, who runs My Scotts Valley, the page where the list was posted), was another of the women enjoying the event, as the sun set.

“I told Robert it was important to acknowledge everyone’s hard work,” she said. “It’s OK to say, ‘Hey, good job.’”

Sitting on the patio by himself, you could tell Mike Weaver, 67, felt a little out-of-place, as a man. He took a moment out of scrolling through Dow Jones stock updates to share exactly why he felt it was so important to attend.

“It’s a good time to honor the women, because I know behind just about every successful guy, there’s a strong woman,” he said, as his wife, Kelly, was busy mingling. “I know she makes me a better person.”

Most Positive Influential Women of Scotts Valley
Robert Aldana (far right), who published the Top 25 “Most Positive Influential Women of Scotts Valley” post on his My Scotts Valley platform, speaks to those included in the list. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Kelly has been running Scotts Valley girls’ softball for more than three decades.

“She doesn’t know the word ‘no,’” Mike commented. “And if it’s better for our kids who reside in the community, and better for the city, she’s all about that.”

Meanwhile, Robert Aldana was directing the women into place for a group photo.

“All you ladies who are here, you’re difference-makers,” he said. “It’s not about how many ‘likes’ you get, it’s about, ‘Are you making our community better?’”

Most Positive Influential Women of Scotts Valley
Erin Buchla (middle) gives a hug on the patio of Cruise Coffee, the cafe she owns in Scotts Valley. (Drew Penner/Press Banner)

Librarian Melissa Walpole said she, too, was honored to be featured on the list.

“There’s so many women that deserve a shout-out in this community, because we all come together when there’s a need,” she said, adding it’s the first time she’s met some of these women in person—or at all. “I think this is super generous of Erin to put this on for us.”

View the entire list of influential women at

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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