Where are They Now?


 | September 6, 2016
Where Are They Now

by Cat Johnson

In 2013, Event Santa Cruz launched with a mission to showcase thriving Santa Cruz businesses and the people behind them. The first event was held at the Nickelodeon Theater and brought together a handful of Santa Cruz’s movers and shakers.

As Event Santa Cruz celebrates our third anniversary, we checked in with some of those first speakers to find out what they’re up to now. Here’s what we found:

Ryan Coonerty

What you were working on then?

RyanCoonertyThree years ago, I had just finished my term on the City Council, was teaching at UCSC, trying to grow NextSpace, and talking about the economics and policy implications of the future of work.

What are you doing now?

I’m now elected to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, still teaching at UCSC and on the board of NextSpace. The work is still community based but much more regional in nature.

Any big lesson learned in the last three years?

Three years ago, I believed that Santa Cruz was on the cutting edge of a fundamental shift in how, when, why and where we work. I still believe this to be true, but the implications are bigger and more complex than I originally thought.

Chris Miller

What you were working on then?

Launch Brigade was in it’s infancy—I think we just launched our new website a few months before. We were beginning to build our project portfolio and had most of our original members, many of whom started as interns. We were figuring out what it really meant to be a team and an agency.

What are you doing now?

We have grown to be a full service design and development agency, competing with other mid to Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 4.40.34 PMlarge firms in the greater Bay Area and beyond. The level and size of projects we work on continues to grow, with each raising the bar on what is known as our “best work.” Most recently we were hired to build an online marketplace for used goods which will soft launch later this month. We scored the gig in part because of the experience and notoriety gained at Tech Raising in 2014 where we built a proof of concept Craigslist killer called

Any big lesson learned in the last three years?

We learned that having a cohesive team is incredibly important and rewarding, and that having a culture which focuses on people before profits was the right way to responsibly grow our company. Although our original team members have moved on geographically, or in pursuit of their own entrepreneurial dreams, all of the hard work they did and the culture we built together remains. It set the solid foundation for the next generation of Launch Brigade and its latest members. Our story continues to be written by our dedicated team members.

Kim Luke

What were you working on then?

It’s a little fuzzy but I think it had something to do with building community through KimLukecommunication, storytelling and conversation. Or I might have been baking banana bread.

What are you working on now?

Enjoying some delicious banana bread. Did you know that butter can be used just like frosting?

Any big lessons learned in the last three years?

That whole thing about substituting applesauce for eggs is bull#%&!. Also, my community building, storytelling and conversation plans (much like me) are an ever evolving work in progress.


The first event was on Sept. 18, 2013. The speakers were: Danny KeithMargaret RosasChris Miller,  Ryan CoonertyKendra Baker and Kim Luke. Click on their names to watch their talks that night!

Closing words from Matthew Swinnerton: Event Santa Cruz has been a crazy ride the last three years to say the least. I have been so inspired  by all the amazing people I have met and have gotten the chance to know better. We have so many exiting plans for the coming years and can’t wait to have everyone experience it. Thank you to all our speakers, our sponsors, our volunteers, our host and our guest! We are throwing a party on Sept. 23 at Venus Spirits called Collaboration on the Lot Party to celebrate out anniversary. Hope to see you there!



Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist helping collaborative organizations tell their stories. Get content tips at Follow @CatJohnson on Twitter.




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