President and CEO
Mari was born in Ensenada, Baja California Mexico. Immigrated to Porterville, California at the age of 13. She enrolled at Porterville High School where she attended 9th to 11th grade then did her senior year at Mt. Miguel High School in Spring Valley, Ca. Mari was accepted at San Diego State University, and became the first member of her family to ever attend a 4-year university. She graduated with a B.A. in Spanish Language & Literature and was accepted into the Master’s program where she was able to teach beginning Spanish classes. She got her first job in education at Shafter High School and that changed her life. She then got married with a professor from her own university and had two beautiful babies – Monica and Sebastian. She then decided to go for her Master’s degree in Bilingual Education and traveled to Mexico to complete her program.
At this time a position was offered at the local Telemundo TV station for a community affairs show and her media career began. She worked as a television broadcaster for two years and then took a full time teaching job at Wasco High school. After 4 years of teaching she’s offered a position as Executive Producer and Radio Host at the Radio Campesina Network where she covered three western states in NPR – public radio in Spanish. This job brought her great opportunities to grow professionally such as covering the Democratic Convention in 2008 in Denver, CO; and interviewing first lady Hillary Clinton, President Bill Clinton, First lady Michelle Obama and attending 2008 Obama’s Presidential Inauguration in Washington DC. She then took a new adventure in radio news production and was selected as one of 4 journalists to represent the United States in Peru. Mari worked and covered news from a natural disaster area in the north of Peru and broadcasted daily her radio show “Punto de Vista” live for two weeks. After this experience, she participated in an Environmental Journalism fellowship at Stanford university.
Later, she took a new role in the nonprofit world and developed programs in ESL and Civics for Spanish speakers and farm laborers. A year later, Bright House Networks, a nationwide cable company hired her as their Multicultural Communication Manager representing the Western Region where she was also in charge of her own radio show “Nuestras Voces”. Univision Communication Inc, then offered a position as Director of Community Affairs and Marketing for three local stations; and as host of her own show called “Kern Contigo” and national morning segments of “Despierta Bakersfield”
She joined the United Way of Kern County family in 2017 as Director of Marketing and Development. She was then promoted to Interim President & CEO in April of 2018, and in November 20, 2018 she became the permanent President and CEO of the organization.
As President and CEO of UWKC, Mari has served as Co-Chair of the Public Policy Committee for United Ways of California for 2 years (2018-2020), leading local UW’s to the state Capitol to advocate for bills and issues that benefit local communities.
At the 2018 New CEO Forum at the United Way Headquarters in Virginia, Mari was selected among 81 new U.S. CEO’s to serve as Spokesperson for the National Magazine, Chronicle of Philanthropy.
During her last three years at UW, Mari has transformed her team and greatly impacted the community in the areas of education, health and financial stability. Mari has been very active in the areas of education, from pre-k to higher education. She has presented at several conferences advocating for literacy and quality education for our children and youth.
Mari has been nominated twice for the city’s prestigious Beautiful Bakersfield Humanitarian Award, due to her dedication to advocate for education and bring the best to her community.
In March 15, 2021 Mari was honored by California State Assembly Member Rudy Salas for District 32 with the “Woman Of The Year Award”, due to her long positive influential trajectory in this community and for being the first Latina to hold a CEO position for a local United Way chapter.
Mari is a woman of faith. She believes God has a path and a plan for her, she follows the signs and works with passion, dedication and discipline to help others and make this world a better place for everyone, especially for our children.
Vice President of Development & Impact
Gabriel Alvarez was born in Bakersfield and raised in Lamont, CA by a single mom, in a small home with 4 sons. Life was financially rough, but with faith and perseverance, they would pull through. Gabriel became the first in his family to attend and graduate from a 4-year university with a B.A. in communications and with an emphasis on computer imaging.
Gabriel has always had a passion of helping others. Through his passion and experience in marketing and graphic design he served dozens of community-based organizations for more than 15 years.
In 2012 Gabriel worked as producer and editor for Univision Television Group in Bakersfield, CA. He produced and edited commercials and TV shows for paid advertisers and was a host for a community show on KUVI My45 Network. After six years he transitioned to fully devote his time and efforts to support small businesses and community-based organizations with their marketing needs.
In January 2019 he assisted United Way of Kern County as their marketing consultant and six months later he joined the United Way team as Marketing Manager. In October 2021 Gabriel Alvarez humbly accepted the role of Vice President of Development and Impact for United Way of Kern County.
He currently serves on the board of directors for Calvary Bakersfield and is part of the taskforce for Binational Health Week of Kern County. He continues to help lead a strong team of individuals who have a passion of serving others. He understands that with collaboration you can go further, impact more people, and help community members thrive. “Together, we can help Kern stay strong!”
Don joined United Way of Kern County in 1986. As Director of IT his responsibilities include installing, programming and maintaining our internal network of servers and computers. He is also responsible for programming and maintaining our campaign and financial databases insuring data integrity, provides leadership with internal processes and reporting of pledge and payment information.
Financial Stability Initiatives Manager
Annelisa Perez joined the United way team in 2018. Since then she has worked under the financial stability department as several positions. She started her time as the CalEITC outreach Specialist and VITA Volunteer as part time and was then promoted to full-time as the VITA Sites Coordinator. However, shortly after, an unexpected career opportunity crossed her path and moved cities. But that did not last long. Annelisa returned shortly after her leave, but this time as the Financial Stability Manager. Since then she has shown a passion for the department and seeks to develop new programs and services to enhance the lives of those in need.
Karla Chiquetes was born and raised in Sonora, Mexico. She has been living in this country for over 17 years and has been working with non-profits organizations since. She started working with UWKC in December 2019 as the Family Life Educator. In a short time she was promoted to the Office manager and continues learning from this wonderful organization. “I like working in UWKC family because we are able to improve quality of life for others and have an impact in our community”.
Gabriel Adame joined United Way of Kern County in 2021. As the marketing manager his responsibilities include overseeing all marketing campaigns and community outreach while providing leadership for the marketing team. He is a Bakersfield native, obtaining his degree in Business/Marketing from California State University, Bakersfield.
Interim Education Manager
Lisa Keosouphanh started at United Way of Kern County in February of 2019 as an intern from San Joaquin Valley College. By the end of 2019, she had gone from intern to volunteer, then to the role of Education Specialist. In 2020, she began diving into the world of grants and fundraising. She sought out opportunities to increase UWKC’s capacity to help her struggling community, soon earning the title of Grant Writer. Currently serving as the Interim Education Manager, Lisa strives to reach those most in need in her community with hopes of connecting them to resources and opportunities that will enhance their quality of life in the areas of Education and Health and ultimately result in Home Stability.
Family Life Program Coordinator
Amelia Dias joined the United Way team in 2018. She started her time as a Data Entry Clerk and Administrative Assistant, then was promoted to Office Manager in 2019. As Office Manager she also wore many other hats, including being a Family Life Substitute Instructor. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she had to move out of Kern County in early 2021 but continued to teach the Family Life curriculum virtually to Bakersfield City School District’s 8th graders. Once schools resumed in-person instruction following the pandemic, she became the Family Life Program Coordinator where she trained and oversees the Family Life Instructors. Amelia is a mother to her twin 8-year olds- Emma and Owen. On her free time, she is a classically trained violinist and vocalist who also enjoys performing with a mariachi.
Marketing & Campaign Assistant
Sydney Cullen joined United Way of Kern County in 2020. She is from Bakersfield, CA and will graduate from CSU Bakersfield in the spring as an Economics major. Sydney has over 5 years of marketing experience since her days of being the Editor in Chief of her high school yearbook, as well as working at Loyola Marymount University as the Marketing Assistant for the Seaver College of Science and the Business Manager for the Runner at CSUB. As the Marketing and Campaign Assistant, Sydney has found her passion in helping the community and advocating for initiatives that support meaningful and sustainable change in the areas of education, health, and financial stability.
Event and Volunteer Coordinator
Jane Voss joined United Way of Kern County in September of 2021. Jane has a BBA degree in Marketing from Boise State University and is currently in the process of earning her Masters in Meeting & Event Management from San Diego State University. As an integrated member of the marketing and development department, Jane works to build an ever-increasing network of volunteer support for the organization. Jane is passionate about delivering events that bring our community together in order to create a lasting impact.
Bookkeeping Assistant/Data Entry
Brenda Rodriguez Ramirez is the Bookkeeper and Data Entry Clerk. She joined United Way of Kern County in 2021. In her current role, she keeps track of daily transactions such as day to day bank transactions, sending out invoices and manages the accounts receivable and payable ledger. This involves maintaining records of financial transactions by establishing accounts, posting transactions and processing payments. As well as maintaining the database she enters new customer and account information while gathering invoices, statements, reports, documents, personal details, and information from employees.
Sophia joined the United Way family in February of 2021. As a VITA assistant, her responsibilities were to assist the tax clients with paperwork and documents. She then moved over to the Education department, as an assistant as well. There she assisted with any educational programs, events, and outreach. Currently she has the position of Office Assistant, where were duties are to assist with the general office organization and greats or attends clients at the front desk.
VITA Program Coordinator
Claudia relocated to Bakersfield in 2021 from Tulare County. Her love for non-profit work started when she began working for United Way of Tulare County in 2012. After her move she was excited to find her new home at United Way of Kern County where she could continue her passion in helping the community and working for non-profit organizations.
Family Life Educator
Jacqueline joined United Way of Kern County in September of 2021. She has a degree from California State University, Northridge in Public Health Promotion. Jacqueline has worked with various non-profit organizations in college as well as a full-time professional. Having recently relocated to Bakersfield, Jacqueline is excited to continue her passion in health promotion by means of Family Life Education throughout Kern County.
Family Life Educator
Monica Martinez was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. She joined the United Way team in 2021. Monica has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from CSU Monterey Bay and plans to attend graduate school in 2022 for her Master of Science in Business Analytics. She works under United Way’s education team as a Family Life Educator where she teaches comprehensive sexual education to middle school students.
Family Life Educator
Monica has a deep passion for teaching health education to students by raising awareness and building confidence in accessing health and wellness resources. She received a bachelor’s degree in the fields of psychology and sociology. She has been working in the field of education for the past 3 years. Monica’s experience in Applied Behavioral Analysis has allowed her to work as a behavioral interventionist. In addition, she taught health education to students within the special education community. She is currently teaching family life education to 8th-grade middle school students. She assist United Way of Kern with curriculum facilitation and community outreach. Her Future goals are to continue growing accessibility to sex ed for all students with various abilities.
(661) 834-2952 Fax
5405 Stockdale Hwy., Suite 200
Bakersfield, CA 93309
United Way Worldwide
Members of the:
Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce
Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce