Santa Maria Connect, a program of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber, delivers networking and career development opportunities for professionals under 40. We are focused on building business , community leaders and relationships through fun and professional events.
Join us at our next Santa Maria Connect! Meeting - register at our events page.
2020 Board Members
Yarely Corona - Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce
Yarely was born and raised here in Santa Maria. Graduated from Santa Maria High School and went straight to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she received her B.S. in Agricultural Business.
Once she graduated, she was given the opportunity to intern for a State Agency, California Strawberry Commission in Watsonville, CA. She helped with Community Relations in their Public Policy Department. She interned for about 6 months until she was hired on permanently. She spent 5 years working in representing all California Strawberry Growers, Shippers and Processors as their Events and Outreach Coordinator. She worked with every department, Marketing, Public Policy, Research and Grower Education to help put on events not only state wide, but nationwide always-representing California Strawberries.
After five amazing years with the Strawberry Commission, She decided to move back to my native roots back to the Santa Maria Valley. She was fortunate enough to be hired on by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau working as their new Tourism Coordinator for the Visitors Bureau. She is now learning and navigating the world of tourism and making sure to represent Santa Maria Valley in the best way to increase tourism in our beautiful valley.
Kira Cosio - CASA of Santa Barbara County
Kira is the Associate Director of Donor Engagement for CASA of Santa Barbara County. “My favorite part of my job is getting people excited about and invested in advocating for a child in foster care. I get to introduce people to one of the most rewarding and essential volunteer opportunities in our community,” says Kira. At CASA, Kira manages their growing social media accounts, print marketing, graphics, and participates in various networking and outreach opportunities. In her first year at CASA, she grew the online audience to more than 5,000 followers, and got CASA it’s first ‘viral’ post, thanks to Pam from the Office! Kira is a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate, earning her degree in Animal Science while simultaneously being a Cal Poly Cheerleader, Sigma Alpha President, gymnastics coach, ‘model’ at Abercrombie and Fitch, and much more depending on the season! She is an award-winning Extemporaneous Speaker, FFA Rabbit Showman, and National Stunt Champion. Other than her work at CASA, Kira is the coach and choreographer for C4 Cheer and enjoys spending time enjoying all that the local community has to offer!
Bryan Garcia - Great Business Marketing and Superior Home Investments
He was raised here on the Central Coast of California throughout Nipomo and Santa Maria by his grandparents and parents. He graduated from Pioneer Valley High School in 2009 and then moved on to work for Zodiac Aerospace and SpaceX before moving forward and starting companies of his own in 2018. First with Great Business Marketing, which specializes in bringing businesses more customers and revenue through Social Media Marketing and Messaging. Working with clients such as The Maya Mexican Restaurant, Central Coast Surrogacy, Central Coast Orthodontics, Rancho Nipomo, Yogurt Creations, Mountain Mikes Pizza and much much more! Bryan then founded Superior Home Investments shortly after, specializing in real estate investments throughout the Central Coast of California. Since a very young age Bryan has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, all the way back to the days of selling plums and apricots in his neighborhood from his grandparents tree door to door in his wagon, to now transacting marketing deals throughout the country and real estate investment opportunities throughout the Central Coast.
Bryan has grown to become a Young Professional within our community and is looking forward to being an active member of the Santa Maria Connect Young Professionals Board and helping it grow and expand to reach more Young Professionals here in our area. When he isn’t working he enjoys spending his time with his family, friends, traveling, hiking, attending sporting events and enjoying time at concerts.
Ryan Duclos - United Staffing Associates
Ryan Duclos is an Account Executive for United Staffing Associates. He specializes in temporary, temporary to hire and direct hire placements. Ryan is a Morro Bay native and has been working in the Santa Maria area since 2017. Prior to getting into the staffing industry, Ryan worked in customer relations and customer service for a luxury vehicle dealership as well as SolarCity/Tesla. Ryan’s passion for customer service and helping others makes him very successful in his career. Ryan also sits on the Board of Directors for Partners in Equestrian Therapy, a non-profit that provides therapeutic horseback riding lessons for physically and developmentally disabled children and adults. Outside of work, Ryan enjoys wine tasting, volunteering, and spending time with friends and family.
Samantha Corder - Kenneth Volk Vineyards
Samantha Corder, Direct Sales Assistant & Tasting Room Lead of Kenneth Volk Vineyards, joined the Santa Maria Connect steering committee in January 2019. Samantha found her way into the local Wine Industry after tasting Reserve Pinot Noir at Riverbench. After the Riverbench tasting, Samantha became obsessed with learning all she could about wine and found herself enrolled as a full-time student at Allan Hancock College pursuing an Associates of Arts degree in Agribusiness with emphasis on Viticulture and Enology. During her time as a student, she worked as a Tasting Room Associate at Lions Peak Vineyard in Solvang, California. Working at Lions Peak Vineyard was invaluable. Samantha learned the basics of working in a busy tasting room, the details needed for wine club management and how to be a wonderful host. Not to mention all the wine knowledge! After Lions Peak, Samantha worked as a Wine Club & Tasting Room Manager for Cottonwood Canyon Winery for two years. This experience was inspirational, educational, invaluable and will be remembered for its many highlights. Cottonwood Canyon shaped Samantha’s passion for the wine making process, bringing awareness to the Santa Maria Valley Appellation as a whole and growing in areas of hospitality and leadership. Before wine, Samantha worked in a leadership capacity at retail companies including Starbucks and Bath & Body Works.
Alex Valadez - City of Santa Maria
Alex Valadez is a native of the Central Coast, specifically Guadalupe. Alex loves living near all of her family and enjoys spending her free time with her husband, Julio; 7 year old daughter, Sofia; 3 year old son, Thomas; and their two French Bulldogs. She enjoys finding hidden gems of the Central Coast and appreciates living in such an amazing place. Alex joined the City of Santa Maria in 2016 and now works in the City Manager’s Office. She loves being part of a team that strives to better the community and learns everything she can about what makes Santa Maria such a wonderful place. She understands the importance of professional development and volunteerism which is why she is excited to be a part of the leadership of Santa Maria Connect.
Edgar Gascon - Hacienda Realty
Edgar Gascon is a local Real Estate Agent, raised in a “real estate family” in Santa Maria Valley. Edgar received his Psychology degree from Saint Mary’s College of California, before pursuing a Master’s degree at Seattle Pacific University in 2011. Beginning his career consulting at Towers Watson Co. in San Francisco, Edgar was given the opportunity to move back to his hometown after 8 years of being away; he relocated to settle down and start a family. Edgar launched into Real Estate in 2015 at his family firm Hacienda Realty. Edgar’s experience in the consulting industry showed him the value of customer relationships - making it his focus to develop a professional & personal relationship with his clients for many years. His passion for his city & business are the energizing efforts behind his community involvement - giving back by serving on the Boards of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, Northern Santa Barbara County United Way, Santa Maria Association of Realtors, St Joseph High School Alumni, Toastmasters, and Santa Maria Connect. On his free time, Edgar enjoys spending time with his wife, Yessenia, and 1 year old boy, Giancarlo.
Alex Castillo - Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce
Alex Castillo joined the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2016 as the Events and Special Projects Manager. She plays a lead role in the Chamber’s ongoing member and community events. Alex is responsible for event and meeting planning, logistics, and operations.
Prior to joining the Chamber, Alex worked for HUB International for three and a half years as a Personal Lines Account Manager. During that time, Alex became a licensed Property and Casualty Agent and received her CISR (Certified Insurance Service Representative) designation from the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research. Alex also received the 2016 Insurance Professional of the Year Award from the Insurance professionals of Santa Barbara and became part of the IAIP California Council 2016 – 2017 Public Relations Team, and served as the Communications Liaison for all 12 Chapters in CA.
Alex is also is very active in the local community, and currently serves as Past President / Founder of the Santa Maria Valley Rotaract Club, a community service club for young professionals sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of SM and Nipomo. She was also a recipient of the 2017 Pacific Coast Business Times 40 under 40 award for her involvement in engaging local young professionals through programs like Santa Maria Valley Rotaract and Santa Maria Connect Young Professionals.
When Alex isn’t out serving her community, she enjoys spending time with her 3 year old daughter Alina and 1 year old son Tristan. Like any true Santa Maria local, she enjoys good BBQ and the local wine scene we are so fortunate to have here in the Santa Maria Valley.
Taz Dougherty - Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce
Taz Dougherty began working for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2017, primarily assisting with office visitors and information requests, as well as keeping the Chamber and Tourism websites current and full of useful information. He was raised in Santa Maria, attending Pioneer Valley High School, before moving on to Allan Hancock College, and finally attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he received his B.S. in Psychology. Prior to working at the Chamber, Taz worked as a Substance Abuse Counselor within the local Santa Maria Valley community. He is passionate about helping and assisting others, and has taken that passion to help better the local business community by working at the Chamber. Outside of work, he enjoys playing music and spending time with friends.
Zachary Adam - Toyota of Santa Maria
Zachary Adam was born in Orange County but now proudly calls the Santa Maria Valley his home and has for the last 20+ years. Zachary’s vision and passion for applied business techniques such as networking, infrastructure systemization, and sales have been forged in the fires of his extensive hands on experience. It is Zachary’s eclectic background in the fields of hospitality, the automotive industry, and knowledge of local sales markets that make him a valuable network partner through the Santa Maria Connect Team. Currently Zachary is continuing his formal education through Allan Hancock College’s Associate of Arts in finance. His future goals include earning a B.A. in finance and ultimately going on to earn a Master of Business Administration from Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. It is Zachary’s hope to be available for innovative conversation to all in the fields of business and finance not only as a leader but also as a learner in this ever-changing field of business. His philosophy of business is wrapped up into his personal motto, “Let’s see the people of this town flourish.
Daniel Cronin - KCD Plumbing Inc. and Superior Home Investments
Daniel Cronin, a local of the central coast, is a business owner of KCD Plumbing with his father Keven, and business partners with Bryan Garcia for Superior Home Investments. He attended Pioneer Valley High School and graduated in 2009. Soon after he began working with oil field environmental compliance while also attending Allan Hancock College to pursue a degree in Chemistry. Then the opportunity presented itself for Daniel to operate a plumbing business with his father in 2017. Currently he is pursuing a career in real estate to help with the quality of life and opportunity available within our community