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Bakersfield College

Panel of five women discussing leadership

Women in Leadership

2nd Annual Jean Fuller Women in Leadership Panel

March 4, 2021 at 6 p.m.


Join us in celebrating Women's History Month at the 2nd 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 guest including Dr. Mary Barlow, Kern County Superintendent of Schools; Katie Russell, Superintendent, Panama-Buena Vista Union School District; and Nicole Parra, Manager, State Government Affairs, Marathon Petroleum Corp.

Watch the Full Program on YouTube

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
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

Hosted by BC’s President, Sonya Christian, 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 Levan Center at the Bakersfield College campus on Panorama Drive.


Jean Fuller

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

Judge Gloria Cannon - Kern County Superior Court

Judge Gloria J. Cannon was born and raised in Los Angeles County, California. She attended Birmingham High School, where she lettered in basketball and track. Judge Cannon is the first African American female judge in Kern County. Governor Brown appointed Gloria in 2017. Prior to serving as the 32nd judge in Kern County, Gloria served as a deputy public defender in the county since 2002. Judge Cannon is assigned to the family law department.

Mary Barlow

Mary Barlow - Superintendent of Schools

Dr. Mary Barlow has spent the majority of her career in education, serving as a teacher, Director of Children and Family Services, and Superintendent. In 1996 Mary spearheaded the formation of the Kern River Valley Collaborative, a network of county, private and nonprofit agencies dedicated to delivering direct medical, dental, and social services to Kern River Valley children and their families. During her tenure as Superintendent of the Kernville Union School District, she successfully modernized all district schools and constructed a new middle school, while focusing on increasing student achievement.

Cynthia Zimmer

Cynthia Zimmer - Kern County District Attorney

Cynthia Zimmer was elected Kern County District Attorney on June 5, 2018 and took office in January of 2019. Mrs. Zimmer is a native of Coalinga, California. She graduated from California State University Bakersfield in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Mrs. Zimmer received her juris doctorate from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, in 1984. She has been a prosecutor at the Kern County District Attorney’s Office for 35 years. Mrs. Zimmer has tried nearly every type of criminal case including narcotics, sex crimes and homicides. She was promoted to Supervising Deputy District Attorney over 20 years ago and spent 12 years supervising the District Attorney’s Gang Unit. Mrs. Zimmer has personally handled numerous high-profile cases including Kerry Hastings, a serial killer; Billy Ray Johnson, the “Eastside Rapist”; and Corey Johnson, who killed three people and attempted to kill several others in the longest gang trial in Kern County history. As District Attorney, Mrs. Zimmer is working to reduce violent crime in Kern County, provide better services to victims in rural areas, and keep the public informed about legislative changes that affect public safety.

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