Santa Cruz

Hostel Society

Was recognized as a 501c3 nonprofit in 1978. In the beginning, it operated a summer youth hostel in a rented school space. While looking for a permanent space, the Santa Cruz Hostel Society became aware of the historic Carmelita Cottages property in 1982 but didn’t start hosting guests until 1992.

We passionately believe that hostels play a pivotal role in cultural exchange and acceptance all over the world. Diversity is an incredible part of life here at the Santa Cruz Hostel. Friendships and memories are made here that last a lifetime.

A hostel is a different environment than a hotel – guests share space and get to know each other, and learn about traveling through each other’s experiences. Through sharing space in dorm rooms, common spaces, and the kitchen, we seek to see the similarities in those who come from different regions and cultures and learn to appreciate the diversity among all people.

Our board of directors is now accepting candidates! Learn more.

Terri Fisher

Santa Cruz, CA


Having been a hosteller for most of her life, Terri has been a supporter of the Santa Cruz Hostel for the last 30 years, showing her dedication to the development and operation of the hostel as architect, volunteer, Board Member, and past president. Terri is a local architect, whose work in historic preservation can be seen all over Santa Cruz County, including the Hostel at Carmelita Cottages. She is also the architect for other hostels in California including the Monterey Hostel, City Center Hostel and Pigeon Point Hostel. Terri became a consulting architect to HI-USA advising on hostel design in many parts of the country and authoring the “Design Guidelines for Mid-Size Hostels” commissioned by HI-USA. Terri currently serves as SCHS Secretary.

Enda Brennan

Santa Cruz, CA

Enda is currently treasurer and past president of the local Grey Bears non-profit. He is also on the Board of the Homeless garden project and Cyclists for Cultural Exchange and was appointed Commissioner to the city of Santa Cruz Downtown Commission. Enda was a hostel guest in dozens of International Hostels in his early adult years. He hopes to help our local hostel thrive. 

Nancy harris

San marcos, Tx

Nancy worked for HI-USA for 14 years as a Hostel Evaluator from 2005 to 2019, evaluating hostels in the U.S. including the Santa Cruz Hostel. She also worked as a hostel General Manager for 6 years. Nancy’s goals would be to help increase overnights and improve the hostel facility.

Sheryl McEwan

Scotts Valley, CA

As a past commissioner on the Scotts Valley Arts Commission, Sheryl organized the first Art walk for Scotts Valley and worked on getting a small grant. She also started the Open Garden and English Tea Luncheon for St. Phillips Church. This continues as an annual fund-raising event for the church. She started and organized all aspects of the Garden faire from 2006 to 2018, including recruiting speakers, vendors, food trucks and musicians; designing the layout and directing volunteers. As vice-president of the Monterey Bay Iris Society for 8 years, Sheryl recruited monthly guest speakers and helped to present regional conferences hosted by MBIS in 2005 and 2015. Sheryl’s hostelling experience relates to her enjoyment of travel and her experience of hostelling in Germany. Her goals are to enhance the property, help with volunteers and with events.

Victoria Johnson

Santa Cruz, CA

Victoria served on the Los Gatos Friends of the Library board for 7 years (on the fundraising committee and as the Program Director). She brought guest speakers to share their knowledge and unique experiences with library patrons and the community. On other boards she served as newsletter editor, treasurer, and conference chairwoman. Her favorite tasks are hosting special events and bringing special guests in to do their thing that brings joy and wonder to others. At the hostel she serves on the marketing and events committee and enjoys having a small part in making a Santa Cruz stay special for guests and making their travels more pleasant.

Thomas Karwin

Santa Cruz, CA

Tom has a background and experience with numerous nonprofit organizations and public agencies at the local, statewide and federal levels. His hostelling interest rests on the conceptual appeal of this worldwide program of service for travelers of all ages. Tom’s hostelling experience is limited except for volunteering with SCHS for the past year in the development of the Carmelita Cottages gardens. His goals for SCHS is to develop a full board of 11 directors as soon as possible, establish appropriate standards of governance, and develop a year-round program including traditional hostel services and off-season lodging services.

Richard C. Larson

Santa Cruz, CA

Rich has lived in Santa Cruz County for over 40 years and has served on boards of various local nonprofit organizations. As an educator, Rich has taught classes on Sustainable Tourism, Resort management and Food Safety among many other subjects. Early in 2020, he enjoyed the warm welcome of hostels during a cycling trip to Cuba. Last summer he stayed in the beautiful hostel in San Francisco while cycling around Northern California with travelers from five foreign countries. Rich would like to support the Santa Cruz Hostel Society fulfill its mission to foster greater knowledge, understanding and love of the world.

Lisa McAndrews

Soquel, CA

​Lisa ​taught landscape horticulture for many years, ​she is particularly interested in the outdoor spaces at the Santa Cruz Hostel. ​She has a landscape design, construction and management business in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas. ​She has had the opportunity to stay in hostels in many countries and value​s​ the feeling of community they create for travelers. Meeting new people from around the world and having great conversations about their travels and life experience is a special benefit hostels provide.

Emily Wood

Santa Cruz, CA

Emily has lived in 7 cities which includes living abroad. She has always had a passion for travel and to see the world and hostels have enabled her to see many places and meet many amazing people, which is why she is so excited to serve on the board on the marketing committee! Her professional experience includes 10 years of work in the marketing and consulting industry and she has also assumed various leadership roles through volunteering which has included roles in areas such as social impact, rural development, conservation, sustainability and entrepreneurship.

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