United Way

Professional Development Conference

For 31 years United Way of Kern County has hosted a professional development conference for members and directors of nonprofit organizations and waymakers. This year, United Way of Kern County will host its 32nd Annual Professional Development Conference for a wider audience in need to include community and health-based organizations, along with city elect officials and those individuals who want to make a positive impact where they live. The conference allows individuals to network and share plans and collaborate to better serve the community.

Keynote Speakers



Sarah Eagle Heart (Waŋblí Šiná Wíŋyaŋ, Eagle Shawl Woman), Oglála Lakota, is an Emmy Award–winning social justice storyteller, entrepreneur, and philanthropic leader. Sarah co-founded Zuyá Entertainment and Eagle Heart Collective to create multi-platform stories based on her unique worldview infused by her Lakota culture.

Ms. Eagle Heart utilizes storytelling to amplify the Lakota worldview and uplift critical issues that affect Indigenous Peoples. She has worked with a number of high-profile allies, activists, and influencers including Anne Hathaway, John Legend, Marisa Tomei, Mark Ruffalo, Monica Ramirez, Piper Perabo, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Taboo from Black Eyed Peas, Portugal The Man and the Obama Administration.


Traco Matthews is the Chief Health Equity Officer (CHEO) for KernHealth Systems (KHS).

Working with the Executive team, he provides leadership in the design and implementation of KHS’s business strategies, stakeholder relationships, and community programs to ensure health equity is prioritized and addressed. Traco brings extensive leadership skills, a strong diversity, equity, and inclusion vision, and deep community connections to this critical position in Kern County’s local Medi-Cal managed care organization.

Traco continually seeks to improve culture, processes, and outcomes through his work at KHS and in the community. He uses his experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to contribute human-centered strategic analysis, effective leadership development, and expertise in building trust with Kern Family Health Care members and other important stakeholders including providers and community partners.




Premier Sponsor


Gold Partners


Silver Partners



Bronze Partners







Media Partners


Signage Sponsor

Program Schedule (Tentative)

7:00 am Sol y Luna Mariachi Performance
7:30 am Registration & Continental Breakfast (30 minutes)
8:00 am Welcome Message (30 minutes)
Flag Salute and Invocation
9:00 am PANEL (1 hour)
10:00 am Break (10 minutes)
10:10 am Workshop Session 1 (45 minutes)
10:55 am Break (10 minutes)
11:05 am Workshop Session 2 (45 minutes)
11:50 am Break (10 minutes)
12:00 pm Lunch & Ballet Folklórico Huaztecalli Performance (30 minutes)
12:30 pm Visit Exhibitor Booth (30 minutes)
1:00 pm Break (5 minutes)
1:05 pm Workshop Session 3 (45 minutes)
1:50 pm Break (10 minutes)
3:00 pm Closing Remarks (30 minutes)
3:30 pm Boys and Girls Club Choir Performance








Session 1


The Matrix of Mentoring -Potato Room

by Bob Meadows
Business Development Director
City of Shafter

Bob Meadows won the Beautiful Bakersfield Award for Business Person of the Year in 2018 and later that year became the Business Development Coordinator for the City of Shafter.  His responsibilities include attracting new businesses, assisting existing local businesses, and advancing workforce development for Shafter residents.  As a banker for nearly forty years, Bob had success in branch management, business and community development, commercial lending, leadership training, and state advisory councils. His current community involvement includes the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County, Links for Life Strong Links men’s group, and Master of Ceremonies at various special events.  Bob was an Honors Graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School Executive Program at the University of Washington in Seattle and earned his A.A. Degree in Journalism at Bakersfield College. Bob’s wife Vicki is a retired banker and a nine-year breast cancer survivor. They will celebrate 45 years of marriage in November. 


Grant Writing -Oleander Room

by Lisa Kerr
Grants For Good

Lisa Kerr is an advocate for women’s rights, the environment and a community development leader who has raised millions of dollars for California’s Central Valley region. She is the founding principal of Grants for Good, a nonprofit consulting firm that helps people build social programs that do good by focusing on the value of ethics and transparency. Lisa is the author of the multi award-winning nature children’s book Wake, Sleepy One, an advocate for teachers, librarians and students, and an environmental steward working throughout California and beyond. For more information, visit Lisa at www.lisakerrbooks.com and www.grantsforgood.me.


Working With Difficult People -Truxtun Room

by Dr. Joel Moreno
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
Alta Vida Counseling

Dr. Joel Moreno grew up in the small farming community of Wasco, CA. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, a Master of Science in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is also a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT). He was employed by the Kern County Department of Mental Health for 25 years until his retirement a few years ago. There, he served as a Mental Health Unit Supervisor in charge of their Training Division, Cultural Competence efforts, Outreach & Education, and Disaster Response. He was also their Ethnic Services Manager representing Kern County at the state level. He worked with other state representatives to ensure cultural competency in the department’s delivery of mental health services to the community. He also served as a community liaison, working with local public service agencies including colleges and universities to create/develop/provide mental health services to both staff and the community at large. Dr. Moreno has chaired several impressive conferences locally including the Cultural Competence and Mental Health Summit (an annual state-level conference) and the Public Symposium on Race & Diversity Issues. Attendance at both of these events was well over 700. Dr. Moreno has worked closely with a local faith-based group, Rescatando A La Familia, to bring educational opportunities to a primarily poor Latino community by providing free classes to teach positive family skills and values that will assist them in building productive families and a stronger community. During this same period, he also worked effectively with another local group Familias excepcionales, a division of Kern Regional Center, providing classes throughout the year and workshops at their yearly conference to assist Spanish-speaking parents in working effectively with their special-needs children. Thus, Dr. Moreno advocates for an educational opportunity for all and believes this to be a key component for improving the overall quality of life for the people of Kern. Finally, Dr. Moreno is the sole proprietor/therapist of Alta Vida Counseling where he specializes in Marriage, Family, and Couples counseling, focusing largely on the Spanish-speaking community. He also provides Crisis Response and is called out on a regular basis throughout the State of California to provide de-briefing and psychological first aid in the aftermath of traumatic events. 


Promotoras: A Transformative Model Rooted in Community Respect and Inclusion -Breckenridge Room

by Edgar Aguilar
Managing Director
Alma Consulting Services and Promotoras con Alma

Edgar Aguilar serves as the Managing Director for Alma Consulting Services and Promotoras con Alma, organizations that he co-founded. With an extensive background spanning over 28 years in various roles within the education system and community-based organizations, Edgar’s commitment to recognizing and honoring the contributions of Latinos in this country has been the driving force behind his work. Throughout his career, Edgar has developed projects and established programs that celebrate the diverse talents and perspectives of the individuals he serves. His passion for community empowerment has led him to advocate for the integration of Promotoras into existing systems, ensuring they have a voice and their invaluable work is acknowledged and appreciated. Edgar has had the honor of presenting at various state and national conferences, sharing his experience on establishing collaborative networks, integrating Promotoras into service systems, implementing impactful outreach and education programs, and actively involving the community in decision-making processes.


Cultivating Connections: Fostering Cultural Responsive School Leadership in Community Engagement -Caliente Room

by Lori Gonzalez
Lamont Elementary School District

Mrs. Lori Gonzalez, the proud Superintendent of Lamont Elementary School District, brings a wealth of experience to her role, having served as a teacher, vice principal, associate superintendent, and superintendent/principal. Her career journey has prepared her for the goal of improving student outcomes and leading the district forward. With Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from California State University Fresno, Mrs. Gonzalez is currently pursuing her Doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership at the University of Southern California (USC). She has been recognized with prestigious awards, including Administrator of the Year by ACSA Merced Region and ACSA Region 9, as well as CALSA Region 3 Superintendent of the Year in 2021. Notably, she received the 2023 University of Southern California Dean’s Superintendents Advisory Group (DSAG) Scholarship. Mrs. Gonzalez’s expertise has garnered attention in educational publications like Edutopia and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. She has also contributed to podcasts such as School CEO, Teachers on Fire, and The School District. As a presenter, she has shared her insights at conferences like the CISC Symposium, CALSA Summer Institute, and Curriculum Associates Conference. Recently, she participated in a superintendent panel at the All4Ed Future Ready Schools Institute, focusing on leadership and educational opportunities. Mrs. Gonzalez’s leadership style prioritizes breaking barriers, valuing diversity, addressing inequities, fostering collaboration, and creating an inclusive educational environment. She is committed to ensuring all learners have access to a diverse range of educational opportunities and experiences, with a focus on equity, student achievement, district-wide improvement, and community engagement. Cultural proficiency and responsiveness are integral aspects of her leadership, promoting student success and employee satisfaction. She aims to mentor and support other leaders to cultivate an education system that respects all cultures. Raised in Sanger, CA, Mrs. Gonzalez understands the value of education and hard work. Growing up, she worked alongside her parents in agricultural labor. She is the oldest of five siblings, all of whom pursued education to build better lives. Mrs. Gonzalez cherishes her family, including her husband, Leonel, and their three children, Daniel, Gabriel, and Elise. You can connect with Mrs. Lori Gonzalez on Twitter @LoriGonzalezEDU and LinkedIn at Lori Gonzalez – https://www.linkedin.com/in/lori-gonzalez-07424789/.

Session 2


Employee Law Standpoint in D.E.I. (D.E.I. Law Protection for Employers and Employees) -Potato Room

by Adrian Nevarez
HR Director
Tasteful Selection

Adrian Nevarez is a Professor of Human Resources at Cal State University Bakersfield and former President of the non-profit board, Kern County Society for Human Resources Management. He has over 15 years of HR Management experience in multiple industries including Federal and California employment laws, recruiting, succession planning, and labor relations. Adrian holds his master’s degree in Administration from Cal State University Bakersfield, and has degrees in Business Management, Psychology and Sociology. He is also a Senior Certified Professional through the Society for Human Resources Management and California Law certified through the Human Resources Certification Institute. In addition, Adrian has served on the Kern County SHRM board since 2011 including 3-year term as President.


D.E.I. in Marketing: How to Develop an Inclusive and Authentic Marketing Strategy for Brands -Oleander Room

by Dr. Aiteh Poushneh
Marketing Professor

Atieh received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She holds a BS in Computer Engineering-Software and an M.SC in industrial engineering-System Management and Productivity. Her professional experience includes three years in the field of computer engineering including database design, artificial intelligence (AI), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Her main research interests are consumer psychology along with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), augmented reality (AR), Metaverse, and virtual reality (VR). She is interested in the effect of such technologies on consumer behaviors. Her research has been published in A-level journals and conferences. She also has served as an ad-hoc reviewer for several A & A-star level journals and conferences.


Learning How Not To Judge A Book By Its Cover: Conscious Bias -Truxtun Room

by Glenda Woolfolk
No Sister Left Behind

Glenda Woolfolk moved to Bakersfield from Omaha, Nebraska in 1964 with her mother and sister. From 1984 to 1996, Glenda pursued her passion as a licensed cosmetologist, owning and operating Classique Hair Salon. In June 1996, Glenda embarked on a new career path with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as a Correctional Officer. Over a decade, she demonstrated dedication and professionalism, leading to her promotion as a Correctional Counselor. Glenda’s expertise and commitment were recognized when she served as the Sexually Violent Predator Counselor for five years. During her tenure with CDCR, Glenda actively pursued personal and professional growth opportunities. She became certified as a Teachers for Training (T4T) instructor, enabling her to teach custody and non-custody staff mandatory courses required for continued employment. Additionally, Glenda obtained a certificate in teaching Conflict Management and was a valued member of the institution’s Negotiation Management Team. Her dedication led to her attendance at the Use of Force training in Sacramento, and she was entrusted with the responsibility of updating a section of the Use of Force policy in the Departmental Operations Manual. Glenda retired from CDCR in March 2016. Since 2013, Glenda has owned and operated Vi Dora Exclusive Hair Extensions LLC. In 2019, she established the nonprofit organization No Sister Left Behind to address the disparities faced by Black women across seven crucial aspects of their well-being: social, mental, emotional, physical, financial, career, and community. Through her organization, Glenda provides programs, resources, and education to empower and encourage women to thrive. At the age of 64, Glenda decided to return to college and complete her studies that she had started back in 1974. Her ultimate goal is to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. In addition to her academic pursuits, Glenda finds joy in singing, camping, and actively serving her community.


The Secrets to Building Relationships with Your Employees -Breckenridge Room

by Sam Peña
Our Life Arena

Sam Peña is a visionary leader with over 20 years of unparalleled experience in the food manufacturing industry. With a profound understanding of food manufacturing processes, he has consistently displayed exemplary leadership skills, driving teams toward success and delivering exceptional results. Sam is a seasoned professional, possessing an impressive skill set that sets him apart from the competition. He holds a prestigious John Maxwell Certification, a renowned leadership program that equips individuals with the tools and knowledge required to excel in leading others. This certification speaks volumes about his commitment to personal growth and his dedication to becoming the best leader possible. Not only does Sam possess exceptional leadership qualities, but he is also a certified Six Sigma Black Belt since 2016. This certification reflects his mastery of the Six Sigma methodology, a data-driven approach aimed at improving operational efficiency and eliminating defects. With his Six Sigma expertise, Sam has consistently demonstrated his ability to identify areas for improvement and implement effective strategies that drive business results. Throughout his career, Sam has been a catalyst for change and growth within the food manufacturing industry. His commitment to excellence and his relentless pursuit of innovation have earned him a reputation as an industry leader. Sam‘s ability to navigate complex challenges and find sustainable solutions is unparalleled. Outside of his professional accomplishments, Sam is known for his infectious enthusiasm and genuine care for others. He has a remarkable ability to inspire and motivate those around him, fostering a positive work environment and fueling a culture of collaboration and success. When you collaborate with Sam Peña, you can expect nothing short of exceptional leadership, extensive experience, and a drive for continuous improvement. With his visionary mindset and unwavering commitment to excellence, Sam is undoubtedly the ideal leader to take your organization to new heights.


Financial Reporting for Nonprofits -Caliente Room

by Tracy Webster
Chief Financial Officer
Community Action Partnership of Kern

Tracy Webster has been the Chief Financial Officer for the Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) since 2018. She is responsible for overseeing a budget of approximately $110 million combining roughly 80 federal, state, and local funding sources to serve high risk populations in the communities of Kern, San Joaquin, and San Bernardino. Tracy oversees CAPK’s Finance and Operations departments She has more than 20 years’ experience in non-profit and governmental accounting, including serving at a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS), and the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District (P-BVUSD). One of Tracy’s signature achievements was securing the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting during her time at Panama-Buena Vista. Only three other school districts in the State of California were able to achieve that distinction. Tracy holds a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting as well as a Chief Business Officer Certificate.

Session 3


The Power of Connection: Developing Empathy and Active Listening Skills -Caliente Room

by Amy Travis
Executive Director
First 5 Kern

As a mission-driven leader dedicated to the community, Amy Travis, Executive Director of First 5 Kern, passionately champions the well-being of children and their families. With a decade of experience in child-serving agencies and holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Strategic and Organizational Leadership from Fresno Pacific University, Amy is wholeheartedly invested in nurturing the potential of young minds. Amy also serves on the Board of Directors for the Kern County Network for Children, where she works to address the most pressing issues facing children in the area. In her personal time, Amy finds fulfillment through volunteering with her church, indulging in reading, and cherishing valuable moments with her loved ones.  


Be a PR Rockstar: How to Get the Media Attention You Deserve for Your Brand, Business or Cause -Breckenridge Room

by Janelle Capra
Executive Director
Alzheimer’s Disease Association

Janelle Capra has spent 28 years working with local media, non-profit, and community-minded organizations. Winner of the Chamber’s Beautiful Bakersfield Award for Humanitarian of the Year in 2019, Janelle believes in supporting causes that are doing meaningful work in Bakersfield and beyond. In 2019, Ms. Capra accepted the role of Executive Director for the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County, Inc. (ADAKC) where she serves Kern County families on the Alzheimer’s journey as a RCFE Licensed Administrator. ADAKC is celebrating forty years as a local non-profit and in 2024, will celebrate forty years as a California-licensed Adult Day Services program. Janelle is an Alzheimer’s advocate on a local, state, and national level working with the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, a Member of the Alois Society, and a Champion for Maria Shriver’s Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. Janelle added the role of podcast host with the newly launched, “Heart Never Forgets” podcast that features conversations about hope, help, and healing for Alzheimer’s caregivers and their families. Janelle’s past work history includes the owner of Capra PR; Chapter President for the National Association of Professional Women; Director of Children’s Miracle Network at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital; the Community Relations Director of KGET-TV 17 and the Promotions Director at Eyewitness News. She also serves on the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference as Marketing Chair and Governing Board Member of Mendiburu Magic Foundation. Janelle is married to Peter Capra, Chief Engineer at Eyewitness News and together they have three children ages 21, 17, and 11. Janelle enjoys writing for Huff Post, TODAY Parents, Kern County Family Magazine, and Stroll Seven Oaks and contributes to other publications. She believes in the power of PR to connect, collaborate, and create a culture of “positive impressions.” 


Diversify Media -Oleander Room

by Daisy Ortiz
General Manager
Lotus Bakersfield Corp

Background in media, marketing, and management for more than 30+ years in 7 Hispanic media markets including LA, Dallas and Houston as Director of Sales for radio and television. Today, Daisy lives here working for Lotus Bakersfield Corp as General Manager for four radio stations. She is also a partner at California Ortiz & 2 Media which owns two Spanish stations in Salinas. Hiring, training and mentoring teams is a core strength. It includes having hired over 200 media professionals and mentored and promoted more than 30 of them into managers. Paying it forward to others fulfills the passion she has for the media industry and her community. Her focus in Bakersfield is to continue mentoring staff and creating unique community media platforms for local businesses and non-profit organizations. She is focused on honoring those who serve this community, as well as creating annual cultural and resource events.


DEI: Creating Safe Spaces for Mutual Growth and Understanding -Truxtun Room

by Dr. Jessica Grimes, PhD
Regional Chair/ Associate Vice Chancellor, Career Education & Workforce Development
Kern Community College District

Jessica Grimes, PhD, is Regional Chair of the Central/Mother Lode Regional Consortium (CRC) hosted at the Kern Community College District and Associate Vice Chancellor of Career Education & Workforce Development (CTE) at KCCD. Instrumental in strengthening and developing intersegmental partnerships among industry, K12 Local Education Agencies (LEAs), Workforce Development Agencies, and community-based organizations, Jessica oversees the Strong Workforce and the K12 Strong Workforce Programs, a career education grant that serves over 100,000 community college students. The Consortium is a membership of 15 community colleges from 8 community college districts whose combined service areas include 230 public school districts and 150 charter schools. Dr. Grimes serves on the Kern Coalition for the Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF), a county-wide grant designed to bring quality jobs to disinvested communities that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In addition, she serves on several boards: Adventist Health of Kern County, United Way of Kern County, the Kegley Institute of Ethics of California State University of Bakersfield (CSUB), the Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of CSUB’s President’s Community Ambassadors.


So You Think You Can Be The Boss? -Potato Room

by Bob Meadows
Business Development Director
City of Shafter

Bob Meadows won the Beautiful Bakersfield Award for Business Person of the Year in 2018 and later that year became the Business Development Coordinator for the City of Shafter.  His responsibilities include attracting new businesses, assisting existing local businesses, and advancing workforce development for Shafter residents.  As a banker for nearly forty years, Bob had success in branch management, business and community development, commercial lending, leadership training, and state advisory councils. His current community involvement includes the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County, Links for Life Strong Links men’s group, and Master of Ceremonies at various special events.  Bob was an Honors Graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School Executive Program at the University of Washington in Seattle and earned his A.A. Degree in Journalism at Bakersfield College. Bob’s wife Vicki is a retired banker and a nine-year breast cancer survivor. They will celebrate 45 years of marriage in November. 

More Information:

Contact Karla Garcia at:
Phone: (661) 834-1820
Email:   Karla.G@uwkern.org

Event Location:

Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center
801 Truxtun Ave
nue Bakersfield, CA

Phone: (661) 323-1900

Our Focus

Early Childhood Literacy

Financial Stability


We are all part of this community and together we can make it succeed. At United Way of Kern County we believe that UNITED we can make change happen... one day at a time.