2017 Class

2017 Class

May Abdalla, MPH CIC CPHQ is the Administrative Director of Organizational Performance at Adventist Health-Bakersfield, California. She serves as the Administrator over Quality Management, Risk Management, Infection Prevention, and Regulatory and Compliance departments. In the last 5 years, Abdalla has streamlined many processes using performance improvement science to enhance the quality and safety of care while reducing errors and harms. During different career positions, she represented different organizations in research design and publishing, and in national conferences presentations of best practices related to Human Factor Engineering, Performance Improvement, Infection Prevention, Lean methodology in Healthcare, and many topics around healthcare delivery. Currently, Abdalla is pursuing her PhD in Epidemiology with the focus on vaccine intake and mandatory reporting. She graduated in 2012 with a Master Degree in Public Health from Walden University and successfully certified in both infection control and healthcare quality. Some of her past achievements are standardize infection prevention practices in Kern County as the president of the Association of Professional in Infection Control and Epidemiology APIC Chapter, graduated from Bakersfield Leadership Program in 2016/2017, abstract acceptance and publishing in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), and past presenter in APIC and Premier national conferences in 2016.

Nicole Benenati moved to Kern County as a young child in 1982. After graduating from high school, she chose to further her education, majoring in Child Development at Cerro Coso Community College.  Her love for children, along with a desire to raise a family, Nicole is a devoted wife and proud mother of 6. After returning to the Kern River Valley. Nicole’s passion for leadership and community advocacy lead her in the direction of recognizing the need for public safety. She is a well-known Kern River Valley community leader working aimlessly to advocate for law enforcement. A topic close to Nicole’s heart, her grandfather was a Kern County Sheriff Deputy for many years. Nicole is identified as a community contact for public safety, and looks forward to participating in the Kern Leadership Academy to better assist her with advocating and addressing community needs and concerns.

Tanner Dyrness was born in Los Angeles and earned a BA in political science from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA. While attending college, Dyrness was actively involved in student government and community service clubs.  During his last year at CLU, Dyrness had the opportunity to spend a semester in the nation’s capital interning for The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) where he worked for their membership and development team.  After returning home to California, he lead recruitment efforts for his local state senate campaign before coming to Kern County.   Currently, he works for Assemblymember Vince Fong as a field representative.  In his role, Dyrness assists with constituent casework and attending events throughout the district.  He is passionate about bringing more people into the political process and enjoys attending and supporting community service events, so he can better serve the citizens of Kern County.

Jonathan Harshman is the Issues and Reputation Advisor for Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company in Bakersfield.  In this position, Jonathan advises Chevron’s San Joaquin Valley Business Unit on stakeholder engagement, legislative and regulatory issues management, and political strategy. Before assuming this position, Jonathan served as counsel in Chevron’s law department from 2012 through 2016.  Prior to joining Chevron, Jonathan practiced law for an independent oil and gas producer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and at a law firm in Dallas, Texas. Jonathan has a Juris Doctor degree from The University of Texas School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Abilene Christian University. He and his wife, Lisa, a native Californian, are the proud parents of Anna, born in February 2017. Jonathan enjoys living in Kern County and appreciates the community’s friendliness.  He looks forward to serving the community and helping to cultivate the county’s healthy business environment.

Tiara King is a Bakersfield native, graduating from Bakersfield High School.  Having earned a BS in Psychology, BA in Criminal Justice, and an MBA, Tiara is known for her passion and influence in the area of sexually offensive behavior and sexual abuse.  She advocates for the women, children, and men involved in or affected by sexual violence, in every capacity from the victim to the offender.  As Program Manager for The Counseling and Psychotherapy Center, Tiara’s role involves partnering with County, State, and Federal governments, to assist in the comprehensive treatment and supervision of high risk sexual offenders.  Through her volunteer efforts she has made remarkable strides for the awareness, prevention, and demand reduction of sex trafficking in Bakersfield, leading the Public Awareness Committee for the Kern Coalition against Human Trafficking, and volunteering with Magdalene Hope’s street outreach.  When she is not focusing on her career, she enjoys spending time with her 4-year old daughter, family and friends, and being involved in church activities.

Douglas McIsaac’s career has spanned 37 years in municipal city planning and community development.  Prior to retiring in 2016, Mr. McIsaac served for four years as the Community Development Director for the City of Bakersfield, overseeing the City’s Planning, Building, Code Enforcement, and Economic Development functions.  Prior to that, Mr. McIsaac served as Community Development Director for the City of Westminster, Planning Director for the City of West Covina, as well as holding professional positions with three other Southern California cities. In retirement, Mr. McIsaac serves as a board member for the non-profit Downtown Bakersfield Development Corporation, as well as doing private consulting.  Mr. McIsaac was born and raised in Fresno and received his BA in Geography from California State University, Fresno.  Doug is happy to be back in his hometown Valley and plans to continue contributing to his adopted community of Bakersfield.

Arleana Waller is the Founder, CEO of ShePOWER Global, Author of muliple books, award winning, branding, leadership, and gratitude consultant, speaker for prestigious clients, universities, and Fortune 500 organizations, such as New York Life, Farmers Insurance, McDonalds, Verizon, Moet & Chandon, Saks Fifth Avenue, Jaguar, Envy Apple, UEI College, Bakersfield City School District, Kern High School District and California State University Bakersfield. Waller has received the Inspirational Award, Diversity Award, Woman of the Year Award, nominated for Beautiful Bakersfield Humanitarian Award and California SBDC Small Business of the Year Award, which is a testament to her engaging and inspirational influence in the largest county in California and beyond. Waller serves on multiple boards, one being CSU Bakersfield Scholarship Fund, as its first Black woman to serve in 45 years, Waller serves the Kern region as a mentor to multiple programs while on a mission to empower one million women and teens, to own her ShePOWER, without apology.

Dixie Walters is a Detention Sergeant with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.  With 18 years in the Sheriff’s Office, she has learned more about herself and the things that truly matter than she learned in her pre-law enforcement life.  Dixie learned that having compassion for people is not a personality flaw.  She learned that one person can make a difference, whether it is in law enforcement, construction, or the animal community.   When there is collaboration between like-minded people and organizations, mountains will move. Dixie has a passion for effecting positive change and progress and is an advocate for the humane treatment of both people and animals.  She knows that nothing can be accomplished alone and it truly takes a village, whether the village is made of sober living homes, animal rescue workers, mental health staff or all the above.