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Scotts Valley
June 21, 2024

Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce announces its 2020 award winners

The Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce continued its tradition of year-end awards for individuals, projects and businesses that have contributed great value to Scotts Valley. 

Bruno’s Bar and Grill Owner Joanne Guzman, SVHS Principal Michael Hanson, and SVHS student Anika Mistry were amongst the 2020 awardees. The Chamber of Commerce will put on a virtual award ceremony on Mar. 13. 

Giving back

Joanne Guzman was named the Woman of the Year. The co-owner of Bruno’s Bar and Grill has greatly supported Scotts Valley residents throughout 2020. She encouraged fellow business owners by creating “Stayin’ Alive Small Business Santa Cruz,” a Facebook group that helps more than 270 members navigate new opportunities and regulations for businesses throughout the pandemic. She also joined the Scotts Valley Economic Recovery Task Force with hopes to support the local economy.

In addition to her vital advocacy for business owners, Guzman bolstered the community during the CZU August Lightning Complex fires. Bruno’s Bar and Grill provided free meals twice a month for victims and donated $10,000 of food to evacuees.

Of these many accomplishments, Guzman says she’s most proud of “helping those who needed it even though we were also struggling.”

She attributes half of her success to her husband, Ro.

“From supporting me in my endeavors, to making my visions come to fruition, to brainstorming and laughter, he is the best partner in marriage and business anyone could ask for,” she said.

In 2021, the Woman of the Year plans on further assisting Scotts Valley’s businesses as a newly elected member on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and through her position in Scotts Valley Economic Recovery Task Force. She’s also working on a website to compliment the Facebook group “Stayin’ Alive Small Business Santa Cruz,” and looks forward to her restaurant’s recovery through new team members, events, and menu items. 

Guzman said she hopes Scotts Valley residents will “keep getting to know our neighbors at home, school, and work, and support one another as a community.”

“It’s one of the best parts of our small town, the love of community we have and lifting each other up,” she said. “There’s nothing we can’t accomplish if we come together.”

Leading the way 

Scotts Valley High School Principal Michael Hanson was named the Chamber of Commerce’s Man of the Year for successfully guiding the school through a year filled with change, including the shift to distance learning.

“Needless to say this year has been a challenge like no other,” he said. “I am most proud of the way my school community has faced this challenge with perseverance and compassion. Everyone has striven to do their best, while adjusting their hopes and expectations. It would have been easy for us to turn on each other with all the pressure, and the loss, but we didn’t. We kept it together and I think the high school students, teachers, and parents are a stronger team now then when we started. Being at the center of it all has been a humbling experience, but one I am grateful for.”

Scotts Valley High School Principal and Man of the Year Michael Hanson presenting on a new career exploration program in March 2020.

He said he will try to be “at the calm center in the eye of the storm” to lead the school in 2021.

“I’m certain we’ll come out of this and I’m excited to see the positive ways in which our world will change,” he said.

Until then, he encourages his students to “focus your efforts on growing the virtues of respect, integrity, and compassion in yourself, and the rest of life will take care of itself.”

Star Student

One of Hanson’s students, SVHS Senior Anika Mistry, earned the Youth of the Year award. Using research conducted at UC Santa Cruz, Mistry launched DevMind VR, a virtual reality aid that teaches social-emotional skills to neurodiverse individuals. The young entrepreneur’s research won first place at the Santa Cruz County Science Fair and awards from both Yale and Scripps University. She will graduate SVHS in 2021 with an International Baccalaureate Diploma and currently mentors other high school researchers from India, Korea, the United States and Canada. 

Mistry hopes to major in business and computer science. 

“I would like to utilize both areas of study to expand DevMind VR,” she said. 

She advises the community to “remember that you have friends who you can spend time with virtually. Also, take this time to explore something new. Covid-19 allowed me to expand the research I have been doing at UCSC by learning more about business and using my voice for social good. Students should use the resources that the school provides whether it be the counseling services or clubs to continue staying involved in the community.”

2020 Awardees

Business of the Year – Tam Communications

Tam Communications is a family-owned business founded in 1979 by Tam and Susan O’Connor Fraser. Tam is a Director/Cameraman/Editor, Susan is the Executive Producer/Creative Director and Writer, and their daughter, Regan Eymann, is a Producer/Director who also helps with website development. As a full-service television, video, and digital media production company, #TeamTam takes projects from concept to completion. They’ve worked with some of Northern California’s leading organizations from Intel to Apple, from Satellite Healthcare to Sciton and from the United Way of Santa Clara County to Sacred Heart Community Services to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County to Second Harvest Food Bank. They also produce television commercials including those for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and programming for cable networks like the Discovery Networks.

They’ve won hundreds of regional, national, and international awards for their work including the highly acclaimed animated video, “Summer is Coming” for the Boardwalk. The team has most recently been doing pro bono work for the Scotts Valley Economic Recovery Task Force, creating videos for Scotts Valley-based businesses to help boost their brands and encourage the community to shop local. Additionally, they have created a series of television public service announcements featuring a number of Scotts Valley business owners. The commercials, which aired throughout the tri-county area, brought a wider audience’s attention to Scotts Valley and to the people and places that make our town such a special place. 

Man of the Year – Michael Hanson

Michael has been on team SVHS for the past 15 years. He was raised in Los Alamitos, Orange County, to a pair of devoted elementary school teachers. As a kid he wanted to be a paleontologist, and later landed on being a teacher. Following his interest in science, he studied biology at Cal Poly SLO and developed his passion for nature photography as he hiked the open spaces pondering the mysteries of life. A few adventures later it was time to apply for his first teaching job. SVHS said yes. Michael began his career teaching IB Biology and Theory of Knowledge. For him the fit could not have been better and he spent the next seven years exploring the wonders of life with his students.

He and his dog, Sadie, settled into the Santa Cruz area and fell in love with the forests, the seas, and Stephanie.  Then Michael and a couple of friends thought, “hmm…  maybe we should be school administrators?” In his four years as the SVHS assistant principal he focused on making the school a place where every student felt at home and could be their best selves. Now in his fourth year as the school’s principal, his proudest accomplishments include creating the K St. Academy, developing a school culture rooted in Respect, Integrity, and Compassion, and being a father for Grace and Noah. He is grateful to be a part of the Scotts Valley community and to work alongside such wonderful teachers, staff, and students.  Ka-Kaw!

Woman of the Year – Joanne Guzman

Joanne Guzman was named the Woman of the Year. The co-owner of Bruno’s Bar and Grill greatly supported Scotts Valley residents through 2020. She encouraged fellow business owners by creating “Stayin’ Alive Small Business Santa Cruz,” a Facebook group that helps more than 270 members navigate new opportunities and regulations for businesses throughout the pandemic. She also joined the Scotts Valley Economic Recovery Task Force with hopes to support the local economy.

In addition to her vital advocacy for business owners, Guzman bolstered the community during the CZU August Lightning Complex fires. Bruno’s Bar and Grill provided free meals twice a month for victims and donated $10,000 of food to evacuees.

Organization of the Year – Santa Cruz Moose Lodge #545

The Santa Cruz Moose Lodge #545 focuses on being in the heart of the community by organizing fundraising events, raising money, donating to our local first responders and other local organizations.

The Lodge has supported local parks, the Senior Center, Boys and Girls Club, Meals on Wheels, Valley Churches, local Scout Troops and Packs, to name a few, and is a designated Red Cross Emergency Center.

In August, the Lodge opened as an emergency evacuation center during the CZU Complex Fire. There were over 50 campers in RV’s & tents during the evacuations. The Lodge board members, general members and their families took in and distributed donations for evacuees, delivered food, water and hygiene supplies to emergency workers. Three meals a day were prepared by volunteers and served to 60-70 evacuees and first responders each day. After evacuation orders were lifted, the lodge continued by partnering with the SC Mustang Club and hosted a “Stuff the Boot” fundraiser assisting the four county fire districts and delivered food to the Scotts Valley Police and Fire Departments.

The Santa Cruz Moose Lodge is extremely honored to receive this award, and proud to be of service to our community. 

Beautification Project of the Year – City of Scotts Valley Glenwood Preserve 

Special gratitude goes out to the following individuals and groups whose commitment to the Glenwood Preserve made it possible:

  • Scotts Valley City Council: Mayor Derek Timm, Vice Mayor Jim Reed, Council Members Randy Johnson, Donna Lind and Jack Dilles, and former Council Members Dene Bustichi and Stephany Aguilar 
  • Land Trust of Santa Cruz County
  • City of Scotts Valley with special appreciation for Kristin Ard and Planning and Public Works staff
  • Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz
  • Scotts Valley Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Friends of Glenwood and the Glenwood Preserve’s neighboring residents
  • Countless volunteers and supporters!

In April 2020, the City of Scotts Valley opened the East Glenwood Preserve, the final component of the Glenwood Preserve and the final chapter in a 20+ year effort to establish this 170-acre open space area.  Divided by Glenwood Drive into West and East sections, the Glenwood Preserve is dedicated to public access and conservation. The West Section is situated north of Scotts Valley High School and provides 3 miles of trails for pedestrians, mountain bikers and on-leash dogs.  The East Preserve offers over 4.2 miles of gorgeous trails and vistas for pedestrians and equestrians. A major component of the Glenwood Preserve is biological conservation of the diverse plant and animal species across its grasslands, oak woodlands and redwood forest habitats. 

The Glenwood Preserve is managed by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, which has the lead in habitat enhancement, coordination of grazing, infrastructure, volunteer patrols, and fundraising for trail construction. The Land Trust partnered with the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, which built the trails on the East and West sections from 2017 to 2020.

Educator of the Year – Erik Wyner

Erik started teaching in the Scotts Valley area in 1998 as a gymnastics teacher in Felton, where he taught for 10 years. He started at SVHS in 2001, teaching Psychology, Web Development, and a variety of math classes over the years. In 2003, he started as assistant cross-country coach, bringing a total of 12 teams to the state championship in the years since then. Also, in 2003, he was part of the first annual Scotts Valley Haunted House. By 2019, the event had reached a size of nearly 200 volunteer students, alumni, and community members, selling over 2000 tickets for its one weekend.

In 2020, Erik and the student lead, junior Greta Feague, made it a priority to keep the tradition alive for the students and for the community. After many major revisions and restarts throughout summer and fall based on changing regulations, sentiments, and permissions, they worked with a core group of volunteers to put together the 18th annual Scotts Valley Haunted House, reimagined as a drive-through all-ages experience largely comprised of creations delivered by dozens of students working at home. The event quickly sold out, sending through nearly 1500 vehicles. Including this year’s proceeds, Scotts Valley Haunted House has donated nearly $100,000 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society since 2012.

Erik has coded several websites, including svhaunt.org. This year he created svhsfalcons.org to make distance learning an easier process at SVHS by automatically bringing students to each of their Zoom classes without the need for links.

Youth of the Year – Anika Mistry

Anika Mistry has been conducting research at the University for the past three years. Through her research, Anika created a virtual reality aid to teach neurodiverse individuals social-emotional skills. Anika shared her research in the Santa Cruz County Science Fair where she won first place overall and was named a Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair finalist. Her work has received the attention of leaders in both science and business as she has awards from Yale University, Scripps University, and her project was named one of the top 40 research projects in North America.

Anika is also an entrepreneur. This past year she branded and launched her company DevMind VR and pitched her venture nationally to business and tech leaders. Advocating for neurodiverse individuals, Anika wrote an essay for the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream Essay Contest. Her piece placed in the top 15, which allowed her to speak on a panel alongside Angie Thomas, author of “The Hate U Give.” Anika has also spoken at national conferences and on podcasts about her work as a young entrepreneur and researcher. 

Anika continues her leadership and community service through being the president of both the Interact Club and the Mock Trial Team at Scotts Valley High School. She is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Scotts Valley and represented Scotts Valley through the Rotary Youth Leadership Conference.

Anika is also pursuing a full IB Diploma at SVHS. To apply the skills that IB has taught her and help new researchers, Anika mentors high school researchers and students from India, Korea, Canada and the United States. 


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