Richelle Noroyan is a member of the Santa Cruz City Council and was elected to office in 2014. Richelle also serves as First Vice President for the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) and is chair of the city council’s Public Safety Committee. Richelle represents the city on the following boards; Downtown Management Corporation, Visit Santa Cruz County, Homeless Outreach, Proactive Engagement Services (HOPES) Executive Committee, City Council Two-Year Work Plan Committee Related to Economic Development and is an alternate to the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission.
In 2016, Richelle served on the city council’s ad-hoc Homeless Coordinating Committee with fellow councilmembers Cynthia Chase and Pamela Comstock. After hours of pouring through documents, articles and discussions with city staff and first responders, they created 20 practical action items for improving the situation for both the homeless and the community. For their efforts, the councilmembers were awarded the “Rising to the Occasion” award from the Smart Solutions to Homelessness organization in 2017.
Richelle was raised in Santa Cruz, the daughter of small business owners, her parents owned and operated the popular westside business Hugo’s Armenian Restaurant. Her grandparents on her father’s side were survivors of the Armenian Genocide while her mother’s side of the family owned a small farm in California’s central valley, immigrating from the Azores Islands. She graduated from Santa Cruz High School in 1986 with honors in music, playing in both the marching and jazz bands.
Richelle is the first person in her family to graduate from college. Upon receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science from CSU Fresno, Richelle worked as a paid staff person for political campaigns in several locations throughout California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. The campaigns she worked on include a presidential election, a big city mayoral race and several California state contests.
Missing her hometown, she returned to Santa Cruz for good in 1994. She worked at Apple Computer, and at the Santa Cruz Operation (SCO), managing international software developer relations programs. At SCO, she volunteered for the Corporate Contributions Committee. Richelle and her committee members were tasked with awarding local non-profits with grants from SCO. She also worked as a district director for Assemblymember Ira Ruskin, focusing on education, workforce readiness, and state budget issues. She also has experience working for non-profits, managing the Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California and coordinating communications for a federal department of education program tasked with improving the academic performance of underrepresented students.
Currently, Noroyan works as the Community Relations Representative at UC Santa Cruz for the University Relations division. Before her election to council, she served on and chaired the Santa Cruz City Transportation and Public Works Commission for six years and was on the board of directors for Ecology Action. She also served on the City of Santa Cruz Sister Cities Committee and is a current member and past chair of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party. In 2000, she won their Democrat of the Year award.
Richelle resides in the Mission Hill neighborhood with her husband, Jim Jensen, and her cat, Gabriel. When she's not immersed in city council work, Richelle enjoys creating mosaic art for her friends and family, spending time at the beach, reading biographies and memoirs, traveling with her husband, staying in touch with her friends all around the world on social media and playing piano.