Academy Faculty


KLA Faculty 2024

Ethical, Leadership, Critical Thinking Skills
Final Thoughts-Putting It All Together

Nate Olson, Ph. D., is an Associate Professor of Philosophy, Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Associate Director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB). He received his Ph. D. in Philosophy from Georgetown University and, before joining CSUB, was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. In spring 2022, he was a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Center for Biomedical Ethics. He has published articles on biomedical ethics, professional ethics, ethics education, and the philosophy of sport. He is a member of Bakersfield Memorial Hospital’s ethics committee in the community.

Kallee McCullough, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at CSUB and Assistant Director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics. She will join the KIE Director’s Team in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Institute. Dr. McCullough will also develop new and innovative ethics programming and initiatives at CSUB and in the greater Bakersfield community, including expanding the KIE Humanities Beyond Bars Initiative and Student Fellowship programs. She earned her Ph. D. and M.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Sam Houston State University, Texas. Dr. McCullough enjoys teaching research methods, criminal law, and courts and her primary research interests include procedural justice and legitimacy, criminal justice policy analysis, sentencing, and corrections. Dr. McCullough’s research examines the correlates of successful reentry among formerly imprisoned individuals, emphasizing the perceived legitimacy of correctional authorities. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed scholarly outlets, such as the Journal of Experimental Criminology, the Virginia Journal of Criminal Law, and the Journal of Criminal Justice.

Steven Gamboa, Ph. D., is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Bakersfield. His research is focused on the intersection between thought, language, and reason. Areas of research interest include epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, inductive logic and confirmation theory, and naturalized ethics. Dr. Gamboa also researches early modern philosophy, particularly David Hume.

Understanding Community Systems, Community Problem Solving

Christian Clegg, Bakersfield City Manager was selected as the City Manager of the City of Bakersfield in 2020. A passionate, community-oriented local government leader, Christian is committed to reinventing how local governments connect to and serve communities. Christian leveraged outstanding mentorship in the City Manager’s Office for the City of Tacoma, Wash., during a period in which the City undertook a comprehensive organizational change effort toward becoming a high-performance organization. Christian then transitioned to Stockton, Calif., as part of the new executive team rebuilding and driving change to create a new future for this community. His initial focus was rebuilding the core internal organizational capacities: performance management, internal controls, and technology governance. Christian then shifted to community engagement with external partners, building regional collective impact strategies and implementing priority projects, such as the Office of Violence Prevention. Since coming to Bakersfield, Christian has worked to modernize the organization, pursue best practices, and empower employees and the community to find solutions through collaborative, innovative programs.


Five Pillars / Decisions from the Dias

KLA Alumnus, Keith Wolaridge, known for his inspiration and passion, is a well-respected leader in the Bakersfield community.  Keith, a retired banker, is an associate professor of business at Bakersfield College.  He is the owner of Five Pillars and Associates, a leadership development firm, specializing in training leaders in public schools.  Keith loves to spend time fulfilling commitments to his family, church, and neighbors. Keith has served on numerous boards and commissions over the years, including, the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Commissioner, Kern County Housing Authority, Kern County Workforce Investment Committee, Kern County Human Relations Commission, Kern County Gleaners, Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, California State University, Bakersfield Athletic Scholarship Board of Directors, and the President’s Advisory Committee for Fresno State. Since 2009, Keith has been a trustee for the Panama Buena Vista Union School District, which serves over 19,000 students. Personally, Keith is married to his wife, Joanne, and they are the proud parents of four beautiful girls. Deeply committed to public education, Keith enjoys speaking with young people in classrooms across the valley, encouraging them to use their education to take them as far as they wish. Keith holds a degree in accounting from Fresno State University, is a graduate of the prestigious Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington Graduate School of Business, and holds a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership from Grand Canyon University and an MBA from National University.

Leading and Managing Group Processes

Morgan Clayton, TelTec Security, President and Founder of Tel-Tec Security Systems Inc. and Tel-Tec Monitoring Inc., has made significant contributions to the City of Bakersfield. Founded in 1982, Tel-Tec Security Systems is a locally owned and operated security firm serving customers throughout California and Nevada. Morgan’s vision led to the establishment of this company, which specializes in electronic security for both commercial and residential applications. Tel-Tec is known for its custom solutions to security challenges. Morgan embodies servant Leadership, emphasizing trust and relationships in business. He serves as the Chairman of the Board for Dignity Health/Mercy and Mercy Southwest Hospital, contributing to healthcare leadership in the region. His involvement with Memorial Hospital, California State University, and the Cen Cal Business Finance Group demonstrates his commitment to community development. Morgan’s engagement extends beyond business; he founded the Leaders in Life Youth Conference and supports small minority-owned businesses and those in the shadow economy. His documentary with Viewpoint Project, hosted by Dennis Quaid, sheds light on Tel-Tec Security and its impact34. As an author, Morgan aimed to uplift small businesses in the region. His work likely provides valuable insights and strategies for entrepreneurs. His participation in Kern Venture Group, which invests in small business startups, contributes to economic growth and innovation. Morgan’s multifaceted involvement in business, Leadership, and community initiatives underscores his dedication to sustainable economic development in Kern County. His focus on relationships, trust, and service aligns with successful public-private partnerships and community impact theory.


KLA Alumna, Amanda Ruiz is a Senior Fiscal and Policy Analyst for the Kern County Administrative Office overseeing the growing issue of Homelessness and representing the County on the Kern County Homeless Collaborative Governing Board.  In addition to Homelessness, Amanda handles the County’s grant management, strategic planning, and the County’s Lean Six Sigma initiative named Launch Kern.  In the past four years with the County Administrative Office, Amanda was part of the Budget and Finance team and created County community events with Kern County Libraries, such as Hart Park After Dark and Touch-A-Truck. Amanda was born and raised in Bakersfield and is a CSUB alumna. She is also a 2015 graduate of the Kern Leaders Academy.

KLA Alumna, Lauren Skidmore, CEO of the Open Door Network, is a pragmatic leader and visionary collaborator, with years of experience working with diverse private and public sectors. As a bridge builder, Mrs. Skidmore has a deep passion for facilitating change and advocacy for all communities in greater Kern County, particularly those who are the most vulnerable. Mrs. Skidmore was the District Director for Assemblyman Vince Fong of the 34th Assembly District, where she advocates for the broad interests and need of the Assemblyman’s constituents. Prior, Mrs. Skidmore served as the Director for Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government, where she elevated the organization’s impact in government transparency and efficiency. As a fifth-generation cattle rancher, Mrs. Skidmore is keenly aware of the impact of small business owners which propelled her to create innovative programs like the Bakersfield Young Professionals, while working as the Communications Manager for the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Skidmore is actively involved in numerous leadership organizations and committees including Bakersfield College Foundation, Kern County Planning Commission, and Kern County Employee Retirement Association Mrs. Skidmore is a wife and working mother of two children. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration (Management) from California State University, Fresno, and a Master of Science in Community Development from Kansas State University.

Kern County Changing Demographics

Richard Gearhart, Ph. D., joined CSUB in August of 2014, coming from Clemson University in South Carolina, where he earned both his Master’s degree and his Ph. D. in Economics. He is currently an Associate Professor of Economics and is the Managing Editor of the Kern Economic Journal, a publication that tracks and analyzes local economic trends and data.  Richard is an expert on Health Economics, Labor Economics, and Regional Economics, analyzing the efficiency and productivity of healthcare delivery systems at the individual, local, and regional levels. He has published over a dozen peer-reviewed articles examining the efficiency of healthcare delivery systems, the impact of energy on regional economic outcomes and has assessed the impacts of healthcare resource shortages on patient outcomes. His most current research examines the effects of CBD products on opioid consumption, driving impairment, and opioid overdose death rates.

Planning for Kern County’s Future

Lorelei Oviatt, AICP, is the Director of the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department and has worked in land development’s public and private sectors. Her years of professional planning experience focus on project management of large-scale, multi-agency, extraordinarily complex projects and moving them through permitting under accelerated timeframes to streamline business and support the quality of life for communities.  Her projects include over 18,600 MW of renewable energy, including battery storage.  Her current projects include the first Carbon Capture, Sequestration (CCS) projects in California, which will hold over 78 million tons of CO2, and new carbon management industries.  She has an M.S in Public Administration – CSUB, where she is an adjunct professor.

Change Management and Innovation Leadership

Mary Barlow served as the elected Kern County Superintendent of Schools from 2017 to 2023, following two years as associate superintendent. She provided exemplary Leadership for county-operated programs and supporting divisions across 46 school districts in Kern County, serving over 200,000 students. During her tenure, Dr. Barlow spearheaded initiatives such as the Kern Education Pledge, fostering collaboration among educational institutions from PreK to University to enhance student outcomes. She also championed the implementation of the Kern Integrated Data System, enabling informed decision-making across all districts and institutes of higher education. Mary earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University, Bakersfield, in 1994. She continued her academic journey, obtaining a multiple-subject teaching credential, a Master’s degree in Educational Management, and an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership from the University of LaVerne. In addition to her educational roles, Mary has served on the boards of several prominent state and local organizations, including the California County Superintendents, WestEd, California School Boards Association Superintendency Council, Kegley Institute of Ethics, Cal State University Advisory Board, Kern County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, Kern Economic Development Council, Kern County Network for Children, and California Living Museum Foundation. Mary and her husband, Steve, have been married for 35 years. They take pride in their three adult sons, Tony, Matt, and Ryan, and enjoy the company of their three grandchildren, Fern, Grayson, and Aiden.

Lisa Gilbert, Ed. D. has dedicated her career to education, having served as an instructional aide, teacher, counselor, school site and district administrator, and Superintendent of the Tehachapi Unified School District before joining KCSOS in 2014. Lisa has extensive experience designing, coordinating, and evaluating instructional services, including elementary, junior high, and high schools. For the past four years, Lisa has led county efforts to develop a model of support for four of our 47 school districts and charter schools, which includes a continuous improvement framework focusing on equitable practices.  Lisa is a Kern County native who believes the children of Kern deserve the highest quality education and the necessary supports for each child to reach their full potential!

Addressing Societal Needs

KLA Alumnus Juan Avila, born and raised in Bakersfield, is the COO at Garden Pathways. Juan grew up in the neighborhood around Martin Luther King Jr. Park, where he attended Fremont Elementary, Chipman Jr. High, and Bakersfield High School. Juan is the oldest of three, with parents that cared for and provided through their work in the Kern County fields. Juan was the first in his family to attend college and earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from CSU Northridge and a master’s degree in business from CSU Bakersfield. His first job at 16 was in the grape fields, where he realized that he preferred to go to school. Juan has worked as a case manager, a youth mentor, and a legal clerk. When he returned to Bakersfield in 2003, he worked as a Clinica Sierra Vista case manager for youth. In 2006, he worked as executive director of Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE); in 2010 as director for nonprofit outreach at Kern Community Foundation; in 2012 as a field representative for former 5th District Supervisor Karen Goh, and 2013, Juan joined his current employer, Garden Pathways, a local nonprofit that mentors youth and adults. Juan is a passionate advocate for marginalized, at-risk, and underserved individuals. Juan believes that despite the challenges that life brings, the simple fact that one exists means that one is of value to this world.

Kern County 2034

Mark Evans, Ph. D., was awarded the Ph. D. in Economics by the University of New Mexico and joined CSUB’s Economics faculty in Fall 1978.  His publications are in the areas of Regional Economics and Economics Education.  Dr. Evans’ administrative appointments at CSUB include Economics Department Chair (1987-1996 and 2008-present); Director of Petroleum Land Studies/Environmental Resource Management (1991-2000); Interim Dean of the Extended University Division (2000-2005); Associate Dean of Business and Public Administration (2005-2012, including one year as Interim Dean); and Director of the Center for Economic Education and Research (1979-1993, 1996-1999). While serving as the Antelope Valley Center administrator (2000-2004), the Center rapidly grew to over 700 full-time equivalent students. It achieved recognition in the state’s higher education master plan as an official off-campus center.  Dr. Evans has been a curriculum leader at CSUB. He developed the B.S. in Petroleum Land Management program, which has evolved into the highly successful Environmental Resource Management degree program. He also designed the B.S. in Applied Studies, a degree completion program that bridges technical programs offered by community colleges to the baccalaureate.  He developed the first two fully online degree programs offered by CSUB’s Extended University: the B.S. in Environmental Resource Management and the M.S. in Administration.

Nyakundi Michieka, Ph. D.,  joined California State University, Bakersfield in September 2014 as an Assistant Professor of Economics. His primary research involves energy, environmental economics, regional economics, and food security. Dr. Michieka’s research can be found in various working papers, book chapters, and peer-reviewed publications in The Energy Policy Journal, Applied Energy, The Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, and The Journal of Food Distribution and Research. Nyakundi’s current work looks at the long- and short-run effects of oil prices on Kern County’s economy. Other research areas focus on the energy-water nexus. He also reports on current economic trends in Kern County in CSUB’s Kern Economic Journal with Dr. Gearhart. Nyakundi grew up in Kenya, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Mechatronic Engineering before coming to the United States. His Ph. D. is in Natural Resource and Environmental Economics from West Virginia University.

Issues (Challenges) Facing Regional, Private and Public Sectors

Jim Damian, former founder and CEO of Stria, is Kern County’s Chief Economic Development Officer. He is an entrepreneur, two-time Ironman triathlon finisher, and Bakersfield’s 2021 Businessperson of the Year. Jim is a first-generation college graduate from Tehachapi and holds an undergraduate degree from San Diego State University and a master’s degree from The University of California, Berkeley. In 2005, Mr. Damian founded Stria, an acclaimed digital transformation company that uses technology and continuous improvement to reduce the burdens associated with business processes. Stria is a five-time INC 5000 honoree and Bakersfield’s 2022 Large Business of the Year. In August of 2022, Stria was acquired by Bitwise Industries in a private equity-backed venture. Jim is also the president of the Bakersfield Rotary Club and an advisor with the Central California Small Business Development Center.

Financing Local Government

Elsa Martinez is the Senior County Administrative Office Manager under Mr. Zervis and is responsible for the County’s debt management and pension plan analysis.  Ms. Martinez received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, Bakersfield, and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). She has been working for the County in various accounting management positions for over 20 years

Economic Development: How We Compete and What are Customers Saying

Barry Hibbard started his real estate career with Karpe Real Estate in 1989 as a licensed salesperson in the commercial and industrial division. Karpe’s real estate practice, sales, property management, land development, new home construction, and hard money lending provided a strong knowledge base in all areas of real estate. In 1998, Barry joined the Tejon Ranch Company as the Director of Marketing and was later promoted to the Vice President for Commercial and Industrial Development. While at Tejon, he led the team responsible for developing, marketing, sales, and leasing the 1,450-acre Tejon Commerce Center. During his 12 years with Tejon Ranch, he sold, leased, or developed over 300 acres with 3.2 million square feet of industrial properties and 90,000 square feet of freeway commercial/retail properties. In 2010, Barry started his development and consulting firm, Central Valley Investments. His focus was the intersection of Supply Chain/Goods Movement trends and industrial development. In 2011, Barry joined Newmark Grubb, one of the leading commercial real estate firms in Bakersfield.  His primary project is the new Silver Wings Commerce Center, a 115-acre mixed-use business park at the Kern County Airport. Barry graduated from Michigan State University, where he was a member of the swim team. He is still a passionate Spartan Fan, and he has continued his swimming by competing in the annual Alcatraz Swim in the San Francisco Bay. He received his Master of Business Administration from CSUB. Barry is active in the community, supporting children’s charities through the Police Activities League and the West Bakersfield Rotary Club.

Poverty and Policy in Kern County: Examining the Past and Future Possibilities

Jessica Grimes, Ph. D., Dean of Economic and Workforce Development, Kern Community College District,  serves as the regional chair for the Central Valley/Mother Lode Regional Consortium and plays a lead role in ensuring a broad and equitable post-pandemic workforce recovery throughout the regionGrimes, a Bakersfield native, came to KCCD from Taft College, where she most recently served as Dean of Instruction and Career Technical Education. Before that, she was an English professor for 10 years at Taft College. She earned an undergraduate degree in English from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, a master’s degree in Religion and the Arts from Yale University, and a Ph. D. in Literature and Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

Building a 21st Century Workforce

Mike Zulfa, Ed D, Superintendent Kery High School District, is a highly esteemed educator with thirty years in education, including a 25-year career with the Kern High School District. He is a proud alumnus of West High School and began his journey in education as a teacher at Garces Memorial High School. In 1999, he continued his passion for education and taught at South High School. Over the years, Dr. Zulfa took on increasingly important roles within the district, including serving as the Dean of Instruction at South High School in 2003 and the Assistant Principal of Instruction at Foothill High School in 2005. In 2009, Dr. Zulfa’s leadership led him to become the Principal of South High School. His dedication to educational excellence continued, and in 2011, he was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Instruction for the Kern High School District. In 2014, he was appointed Associate Superintendent of Human Resources and would assume the responsibilities as the Associate Superintendent of Business in 2021. In February of 2024, Dr. Zulfa became the 22nd Superintendent of the Kern High School District.

Brian Miller, ROC/CTEC Principal, possesses a remarkable track record as an innovator and Principal of the Kern High School District’s Regional Occupational Programs (ROP), encompassing both the Regional Occupational Center (ROC) and the Career Technical Education Center (CTEC). With thirteen years of distinguished administrative experience in ROP, Brian excels in fostering collaborative relationships with educational institutions, industries, and community stakeholders. His unwavering dedication is evident in his pursuit of developing high-quality career pathways for students, enabling them to make a successful transition to postsecondary education and the workforce. As a visionary leader in workforce development, Brian forges robust partnerships and relentlessly seeks innovative approaches to prepare the next generation of workers in the community, contributing to their growth and success.

Agriculture & Water Issues

KLA Alumna, Ariana Joven is a Government Affairs Manager for the Wonderful Company. In this capacity, she provides legislative and regulatory assistance to a diverse portfolio of businesses, including Wonderful’s farming operations in the Central Valley. Prior to joining the Wonderful Company, she served as Executive Director of the Kern County Farm Bureau where she worked with local farmers and ranchers to advocate for the agricultural industry. Ariana previously worked for a member of Congress and the State Assembly, gaining experience in federal and state government issues. She is actively involved in the community and serves on the Bakersfield College Foundation, Community Action Partnership of Kern Foundation, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Leadership Bakersfield Advisory Council. Ariana earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Communications from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Jenny Holtermann is the Executive Director of the Water Association of Kern County, where she oversees membership, event planning, outreach efforts, and coordination for the organization. Jenny is also a 4th generation California farmer, who grew up on her family’s almond and walnut farm in Chico. Today, Jenny and her husband Tim, farm almonds with his family in Wasco & Shafter. Their roots in Kern County date back to 1919, on some of the same lands they continue to farm today. Jenny is a prominent social media advocate known as “Almond Girl.” They also direct market almonds under the same brand. Jenny is an active advocate for agriculture and water issues in various roles locally as well as in state and national positions. Currently serving as 1st VP on Kern County Farm Bureau, where she has served on the board since 2011. She has served on numerous committees of the Almond Board of California, where she currently serves on the Global Communications Committee. She is a past board member for the California Farm Bureau from 2018-2021, a graduate of the American Farm Bureau Partners in Advocacy Leadership Program Class 10, a graduate of the Almond Leadership Program, and a past Planning Commissioner for the City of Wasco. Jenny and Tim have two children and reside on their almond farm in Shafter where they enjoy tending to the homestead as a family.

Kern County Public Health

Alison Burrows MA, LCSW, is the Director of Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (KernBHRS). Burrowes has been with KernBHRS for over 22 years and began her career working in case management and outreach to people experiencing Homelessness. Some of her career highlights are bringing various best practices in behavioral health and homeless services to our community. This includes developing and opening Kern County’s first sobering Center, establishing the department’s Relational Outreach and Engagement (ROEM) homeless outreach program, and implementing specialized trauma therapy and employment services. Ms. Burrowes was selected as the 2023 Alumni Rising Runner for the School of Social Sciences and Education by California State University, Bakersfield. She has served as an adjunct professor in the social work graduate program at CSUB and currently serves as a student mentor for the CSUB Runner Alumni Mentor Program. Burrowes earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and English from Massey University in New Zealand and later earned two master’s degrees at CSUB in Sociology and Social work, respectively. )

Introduction to Municipal Government

Scott Hurlbert began his career as the first employee of Cornerstone Engineering, a start-up Civil Engineering firm specializing in subdivision and land development. With the advent of the personal computer, he began taking computer science courses and then joined Quantum Data Systems, a start-up software consulting firm, in 1984 again as the first employee. These two start-up companies’ experiences helped shape his entrepreneurial instincts and boot-strap approach to company growth and management. In 1987 he co-founded MicroTrack, a technology consulting firm focused on petroleum, agriculture, and education industry automation, which he operated for 18 years. Scott joined the City of Shafter in 2005 as Information Technology Manager, where he implemented city-wide technology improvements and spearheaded the Shafter Connect municipal fiber-optic network project. He assumed the duties of Assistant City Manager in 2009 and was promoted to City Manager in 2014. The city is a distribution and industrial hub for the region through strategic planning and visionary leadership. Scott retired in 2019 and worked with Bakersfield College on strategic projects. In June of 2021 he accepted the City Manager position in the City of Wasco where he continues public service. Scott and his wife, Beverlee, reside in Shafter and have one daughter.

Academy Director

Class Orientation, Community Leadership

Final Thoughts, Putting It All Together, Class Recommendations

 Michael Turnipseed is the Executive Director of the Kern County Taxpayers Association. For 47 years, he has been a self-employed businessman, actively participating in numerous business, political, and civic projects. Since 2005, he has led KernTax, a member-supported, non-partisan, nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to bring about, through cooperative effort and communication, more excellent economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in government, basing its recommendations upon the analysis of facts obtained through research. The organization is widely viewed as the most respected citizen advocacy group in Kern County. Michael received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis, graduated from the California Agricultural Leadership Program and Leadership Bakersfield, and completed the Executive Program in Management from the Anderson Graduate School of Management, University of California Los Angeles. Michael and his wife, Nancy, have been married 44 years, and they have two grown daughters, Amy and Alissa, and three grandchildren, Hattie, Helen, and Henry.

Communications Director

Marlene B. Heise is the owner of Heise Media Group, a marketing, advertising, design, and public relations firm.  Heise Media Group is responsible for creating marketing campaigns to build clients’ brand equity in the market, plan comprehensive multi-media advertising, and craft award-winning public relations campaigns for over 20 years.  Before founding Heise Media Group, Ms. Heise was employed in the broadcasting industry for over 20 years and was a board member for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 100+ markets.  She has served on numerous local nonprofit boards and currently a member of the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary.