Bakersfield College

Women in Leadership Panel

Women in Leadership

3rd Annual Jean Fuller Women in Leadership Panel

March 29, 2022 at 11:30 a.m.


Join us in celebrating Women's History Month at the 3rd Annual Jean Fuller Women in Leadership Panel and hear from local women in leadership roles.

Early College champion and Republican Senator Emeritus Jean Fuller moderates a panel of guests including Martha Flores, Porterville Mayor; Wendy Avila, Kern County Superior Court Judge; and Brenda Lewis, CA Board of Education Member and former Kern High School District Superintendent.


Watch the Livestream on YouTube

KernCCD Women in Leadership page

Our Commitment to Women

Bakersfield College is committed to empowering women through inspirational support and education. In alignment with the College's institutional mission, vision, and core values, we champion for the next generation of female leaders throughout Kern County and our world.

Grace Van Dyke Bird

Deeply rooted in the history of Bakersfield College, a woman named Grace Van Dyke Bird first came to teach in 1917 and was appointed as College Chief Executive, the position now known as President, in 1921. She was among the first to suggest using the term "community college" instead of junior college, arguing that community was more descriptive of the institution's role.

A woman of vision, she encouraged instruction in job skills as well as quality education for students transferring to four-year colleges which remains a primary goal and focus of the College. As the first woman to lead a public community college in California, Bird was popular and widely respected as an educator and administrator.

Today, under the leadership of Dr. Sonya Christian, Bakersfield College continues to support women's leadership development throughout the College and the community. Panels, workshops and advocacy ensure student success and provide a platform for community engagement and mentorship. This contributes to a healthier, stronger, and more diverse future for women seeking pivotal leadership roles.

Women In Leadership Panel

The panel will include local women in leadership positions to discuss their influences, challenges, and successes along with words of advice for young women. The Bakersfield community, along with students, faculty and alumni are encouraged to attend this free event held in the Ocean Room at the Weill Institute at 2100 Chester Ave. Downtown Bakersfield.

Contact for accommodations: Maria Wright,


Jean Fuller - California Senator Republican Leader Emeritus

Fuller served in public office from 2006-2018. She holds a doctorate degree from UC Santa Barbara, a Master's degree from CSU Los Angeles, a Bachelor's Degree from California State University, Fresno, and an Associate's Degree from Bakersfield College.

Judge Gloria Cannon

Martha Flores - Porterville Mayor

Mrs. Martha Flores is the Mayor of Porterville. Prior to serving as Mayor, Ms. Flores worked as an Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, she retired from this position in 2010. Ms. Flores also has an entrepreneurship background, she established Frugal Fashions, which operated from 1992 to 2011. Frugal Fashions helped community members with the skill of shopping for professional wear at thrift stores. Further, this program helped participants attain gear and materials for professional development on a limited income.

Mary Barlow

Wendy Avila - Kern Superior Court Judge

Judge Wendy Avila was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom, making her the first Latina, to serve on the Kern Superior Court. Judge Avila has over 20 years in the field and has served as a Deputy District Attorney at the Kern County District Attorney’s Office for 18 years and has been the Senior Assistant Inspector General at the Office of the Inspector General since 2017. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara for her undergraduate studies and then the University of San Francisco School of Law. In a news article, Judge Avila shared that her upbringing inspired her professional aspirations. She shared that she was adopted at just three months, experienced the loss of her brother, who was murdered at age 23, and lost both of her adoptive parents at a young age.

Cynthia Zimmer

Brenda Lewis - CA Board of Education Member and former Kern High School District Superintendent

Dr. Brenda Lewis was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the California Board of Education earlier this year. Dr. Lewis formerly served as the Associate Superintendent of Instruction at the Kern High School District for seven years. She has a Master of Science degree in Physical Education from Oklahoma State University and a Doctor of Education degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne. Dr. Lewis has been a pillar in the community and has received several accolades, including 17 News’ Remarkable Women, and was named the Grand Marshall at the 2022 Black American History Parade this year.

Previous Events

2019 Women in Local Leadership Panels

Bakersfield College kicked off Women's History Month on March 1, 2019 with a panel focused on Women in Leadership. Hosted by BC's President, Sonya Christian, the panel included local women in leadership positions who discussed their influences, challenges, and successes, along with words of advice for young women.

The Women in Leadership Panel was moderated by California Senator Republican Leader Emeritus, Jean Fuller, and featured a lineup of local women in leadership roles including Shannon Grove, Blanca Cavazos, Cynthia Giumarra, and Rosalina Rivera.

Additional Women's History Month events are planned at Bakersfield College. For more information and a list of activities, visit Women's History Month 2019.

Community Leaders

Our community has many inspirational female leaders in various roles. Bakersfield College is proud to host a number of these women throughout the year.

Jean Fuller - California Senator Republican Leader Emeritus

Fuller served in public office from 2006-2018. She holds a doctorate degree from UC Santa Barbara, a Master's degree from CSU Los Angeles, a Bachelor's Degree from California State University, Fresno, and an Associate's Degree from Bakersfield College.

Blanca Cavazos - Superintendent at Taft Union High School District

Cavazos currently serves as the first female and minority to hold the position of Superintendent for the Taft Union High School District. She attended Cal State University Bakersfield, earning both her bachelors and masters degree. She later completed her doctorate at Fresno State University to become the first female and minority principal at Arvin High School. Cavazos believes the best way to repay the favors received throughout our lives is to pay it forward.

Cynthia Giumarra - Local Attorney

After attending college in Indiana, Giumarra decided to pursue a career in the legal field and attend law school in Texas. She practiced law in Texas and New Orleans practicing law within the oil industry which ultimately brought her to Bakersfield. After 20 plus years in the legal field, Giumarra now serves in full time ministry at the Canyon Hills Assembly of God to mentor and counsel women with a true heart for women’s advocacy.

Shannon Grove - Republican California State Senator, Representing the 16th Senate District

Grove is currently serving as the minority leader of the California State Senate. A Republican, she represents the 16th Senate State district, encompassing the majority of Kern County. Shortly after high school, Grove joined the United States Army serving with the Headquarters Company 5th Corps in Frankfurt, Germany. Following her service, she and her sister in-law formed a staffing agency and her company is now operating in four offices throughout the Central Valley.

Rosalina Rivera - Superintendent at Delano Union Elementary School District

After finishing high school, Rivera attended Bakersfield College and became a faculty member at BC. With over 30 years' experience in the field of Education, River now serves as the Superintendent of Delano Union Elementary School District. She believes she is the first Latina Superintendent to serve in the district in over 130 years. Rivera is both a wife and a mother and believes strongly in seeking guidance and support from your family and friends.

Women's Advocacy


The following videos are highlights from recent panels:

Blanca Cavazos

Cynthia Giumarra

Shannon Grove

Rosalina Rivera