Bakersfield College

Panel of five women discussing leadership

Women in Leadership

Our Committment 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 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 FullerCalifornia 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 CavazosSuperintendent 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 GiumarraLocal 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 GroveRepublican 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 RiveraSuperintendent 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

Kern Community College District