2018 Founders Celebration Emcee

  • Emcee

    Cynthia ChaseCynthia Chase (Merrill '01, psychology)

    Commitment to community

    Cynthia Chase is the inmate programs manager at the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, former director of the nonprofit Gemma program for formerly incarcerated individuals, former mayor of Santa Cruz, a current Santa Cruz City Council member, and faculty at California State University Monterey Bay and UC Santa Cruz.

    While at UC Santa Cruz Chase took a community studies course that allowed her to intern at Santa Cruz County Juvenile Probation, where she was involved in creative and effective solutions to issues of community safety. This internship opened doors for her, and she was offered a job as a probation officer shortly after graduation. While at Probation, Chase obtained her graduate degree in social work and then her license as a clinical social worker. During this time she also worked as a therapist in the Chemical Dependency and Child and Family units at Kaiser Psychiatric. 

    Additionally, as a student intern in the local jail, Chase was exposed to the complexities of supporting a safe, stable, and structured reentry into the community while reducing recidivism. The gender-responsive nonprofit Gemma program developed from this internship, and Chase was the director of the program for seven years, during which time the program proved to be the most effective recidivism reduction program in the county.  

    Chase has also taught for the undergraduate and graduate School of Social Work at San Jose State University since 2008 and since 2013 at CSU Monterey Bay; she also developed and taught the first applied course in public policy for the UC Santa Cruz Politics Department in 2015, and taught the Merrill course Careers in Public Service