Academy Faculty


KLA Faculty 2021

Ethics, Leadership, Critical Thinking Skills
Final Thoughts, Putting It All Together

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.


Michael Burroughs, Ph. D. is a researcher, educator, and ethics institute director. He serves as Director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics and Associate Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Bakersfield, as Vice President of the Public Philosophy Network, and is Founding Editor of Precollege Philosophy and Public PracticeMichael works to support and introduce ethics and philosophy in K-12 schools, prisons, community organizations, and many other locations in these roles. Michael is also a widely published researcher, with over a dozen published articles, book chapters, and a co-authored book, Philosophy in Education: Questioning and Dialogue in Schools (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

Social Capital Theory

Richard Ryan, Ph. D., is an applied economist who conducts research on a variety of topics, including wage cyclicality, unemployment, and labor-market polarization (job loss associated with increased automation and international trade). As an Assistant Professor of Economics at California State University, Bakersfield, Rich teaches introduction to macroeconomics. Before coming to CSUB, Rich earned his PhD in economics from the University of Michigan.

The View from the Dias

KLA Alumnus, Keith Wolaridge, known for his inspiration and passion, is a well-respected leader in the Bakersfield community and an expert amongst banking and financial services specialists in the region.  When he is not working in his business, Keith loves to spend his time fulfilling commitments to his family, church, and neighbors. Keith serves on numerous boards and commissions over the years, volunteering his time with the Kern County Gleaners, Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Kern County Workforce Investment Committee, Kern County Human Relations Commission, Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, and the California State University, Bakersfield Athletic Scholarship Board of Directors. Currently, Keith is a Trustee for the Panama Buena Vista Union School District, serving over 19,000 students. Personally, Keith has been 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 folks in classrooms across Kern County, encouraging them to use their education to take them as far as they wish. Keith holds a degree in Accounting from Fresno State University, a graduate of the prestigious Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington Graduate School of Business, and a Master’s of Arts in Christian Leadership from Grand Canyon University.


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, Anna Laven, Ed. D.  With extensive experience developing partnerships and collaborating with public and private entities, is responsible for providing strategic and operational vision for the Bakersfield Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative.  Raised in Bakersfield, Dr. Laven’s talents lie in the start-up and scale-up of programming, focusing on education and public policy.  Before heading BKRHC, she managed the most extensive dual enrollment program in the state, providing access to college courses for high school students. She also served as staff to the first Latina elected to the central valley board.  Her work has been recognized locally by the Chamber of Commerce and across California.  She is also a graduate of the Kern Leaders Academy.  A proud mother of two and happily married to her college sweetheart, Dr. Laven serves her community through her church and various social justice organizations.  She holds a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Scripps College and an Ed.D. from UCLA.

B3K Prosperity

Kristen Beall Watson, Ed. D.  Kristen Beall Watson, Ed. D. is Chief of Staff to President Lynnette Zelezny at California State University Bakersfield. Dr. Watson has more than 30 years of leadership experience in a unique combination of public and private accounting, philanthropy, and education. Prior to joining CSU Bakersfield, Dr. Watson served as president and CEO of Kern Community Foundation launching important regional initiatives like the Kern Education Pledge, the Kern Connected Community Network, and A Better Bakersfield and Boundless Kern (B3K). She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, a master’s degree in Education from Point Loma Nazarene University, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from University of California, Los Angeles. Kristen currently serves on the Boards of Kern Health Systems, Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, Bakersfield Rotary Club Waterman Foundation, and Southern Sierra Council Boy Scouts of America.

Kern County 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.

California’s Energy Capitol

Robin Fleming has over 20 years of experience in the Oil and Gas industry working for small family-owned companies and large corporations. As Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications Manager for Fleet Card Fuels, Fleming helped market natural gas and biodiesel fueling stations in Kern County. She also conducted training on customer service skills and advertising/marketing for independent petroleum companies. As Senior Manager, Business Development at Kern Economic Development Corporation, Fleming was responsible for supporting the energy/natural resources and aerospace/defense industries in various policy issues. She was instrumental in founding the Alliance of Women in Energy (AWE), a networking and mentoring group for women professionals in the energy and utility fields. She recently retired as a Policy, Government, and Public Relations Representative for Chevron, responsible for local government and community outreach. Fleming holds a two-year certificate in Leadership Development from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Theology from Summit Bible College.

Public Education

Bryon Schaefer, Ed. D. is currently in his 37th year of service in the Kern High School District. Dr. Schaefer began his career with the KHSD in 1985 as a math teacher at East Bakersfield High School. In 1991, Schaefer moved to Stockdale High to teach the same subject. A year later, Schaefer was appointed to his first administrative position, Dean of Students at North High. After that, Schaefer was named North High’s Assistant Principal in 1993. Dr. Schaefer was promoted to Principal of North High in 1998, the position he held until being named Assistant Superintendent of Business in 2010. In 2011, he became the Assistant Superintendent of Personnel, serving until becoming the 21st Kern High School Superintendent on August 4, 2014. Dr. Schaefer earned his doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the University of Laverne in 2009. He earned his Masters’ Degree in Educational Administration from California State University Bakersfield in 1989 and his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics education from the University of South Dakota in 1985. The Schaefer family consists of Bryon’s wife of 37 years, Beth, two daughters, Shannon, 31, and Haley, 27. Beth is the Patriot Elementary School librarian. Both daughters are North High School graduates. Shannon graduated from Cal State, Bakersfield and currently works as an analyst for Bolthouse Farms. Haley graduated from Bakersfield College and is presently an esthetician.

Equality v. Equity

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!

Developing Equity in the Public Sector

Karen Goh, Mayor of Bakersfield, is President/CEO of Garden Pathways, a community-based nonprofit that mentors and educates children, youth, and adults to build productive lives. Karen leads a broad spectrum of community initiatives to assist at-risk families in moving toward educational advancement, employment, family stability, self-sufficiency, healthy living, and improved quality of life.

From December 2010 to January 2013, Karen served as Fifth District County Supervisor, appointed by the governor. She represented Downtown, East, and Southeast Bakersfield, Lamont, Arvin, and Weedpatch. Karen previously volunteered as Executive Director of Garden Pathways from 2005-2010. Karen relocated to Bakersfield in 2005 from New York City, where she worked at The McGraw-Hill Companies in the elementary school publishing division. She held several executive posts, including Vice President of Publishing Operations, Vice President of Administration, Vice President of Editorial Administration, and Managing Editor. Previously as Editorial Director, Karen led the development of two best-selling music textbook series. Karen is a University of Southern California undergraduate and graduate school alumna.

Being an Effective Community Advocate

KLA Alumnus, Mr. Romeo Agbalog is currently the Executive Director for Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government (KCSG), a local 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization focused on promoting policies that support economic growth, efficient stewardship of taxpayer resources, and accountability at all levels of government. Before joining KCSG, Romeo served as the Senior District Representative for Senate Minority Leader Emeritus Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), where he assisted Senator Fuller in serving constituents within the communities of the 16th Senate District on legislation, policy, and regulatory matters. Romeo previously held positions with the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce as Manager of Governmental Affairs, Community Resources Manager with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Field Representative for former Kern County First District Supervisor Jon McQuiston. A lifelong resident of Delano and an alumnus of Bakersfield College, Mr. Agbalog has a wealth of board experience currently serving as a Civil Service Commissioner for the County of Kern, and previous board positions with the Delano Union School District, the foundation board for Bakersfield College’s Delano Campus, and the Bakersfield College Foundation Board representing the Delano Center.

Kern County 2031

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.

Local Governmental Finance

James L. Zervis is the Chief Operations Officer for the County of Kern and an Adjunct Professor in Accounting with California State University Bakersfield. Under the county administrative officer’s direction, Mr. Zervis is responsible for various operational activities of the CAO’s office, including; budgeting and finance, administration, human resources, economic development, information technology, and general services. Before joining Kern County, he held executive-level positions in finance and management with the Cities of Shafter and Wasco. Before joining the public sector, Mr. Zervis held various positions in finance and accounting for an international agricultural company.  Mr. Zervis received a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Business Administration from Central Washington University.  Among other credentials, Mr. Zervis is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), A Certified Public Finance Officer (CPFO), a Certified California Municipal Treasurer (CCMT), and Certified Managerial Accountant (CMA).

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

San Joaquin Valley Issues

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.


Oliver A. Rosales, Ph. D.  is Professor of History and Faculty Coordinator of the Social Justice Institute at Bakersfield College.  He earned his Ph.D. in History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He is currently Project Director for “Energizing the Humanities in California’s San Joaquin Valley,” a $99,989 professional development program for community college faculty funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as “Digital Delano: Preserving an International Community’s History,” a $12,000 project also funded by NEH.  He serves on the advisory board member to California Humanities and various governance committees for the Organization of American Historians.  His manuscript, “Mississippi West: Race, Politics, and Civil Rights in Bakersfield, 1947-1984,” is under review for publication by the University of Texas Press.

State Issues

Vince Fong was elected In 2016 to represent the 34th Assembly District, which encompasses most of Kern County. Vince serves on the following Assembly committees: Transportation Committee (Vice-Chair), Appropriations Committee, Budget Committee, Business, and Professions Committee, Public Employment and Retirement Committee, Budget Subcommittee on Resources and Transportation, and Budget Subcommittee on Budget Process, Oversite, and Program Evaluation. Vince began his career with Congressman Bill Thomas, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, working on international trade policy. He then returned home to serve the residents of Kern County.  Vince served as the district director to House Minority Leader and Congressman Kevin McCarthy for nearly a decade until Vince was elected to the State Assembly in 2016.  Vince is a lifelong resident of Kern County. He earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s from Princeton University. He serves on the Jim Burke Education Foundation and Honor Flight Kern County boards, where he works to send WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam Veterans to Washington, DC to see their memorials.

Agriculture & Water

KLA Alumna, Melissa Frank is Assistant Senior Counsel – Government Affairs for The Wonderful Company.  In that role, Melissa Frank manages government relations for The Wonderful Company and its related affiliates, including Wonderful Citrus, Wonderful Orchards, Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, POM Wonderful, Fiji Water, and Justin Vineyards.  Before joining The Wonderful Company in 2009, Melissa was an associate at Nossaman LLP, advising clients on water and land use matters.  Melissa received her B.A. from California State University Fresno and her J.D. from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law.  Melissa is also an adjunct member of the faculty at California State University Bakersfield, teaching environmental law.  In addition, Melissa serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Maddy Institute of Public Policy at California State University Fresno and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Bakersfield Museum of Art, JJ’s Legacy, Agricultural Council of California, and the California Fresh Fruit Association.


Stacy Kuwahara is the Director of Kern County Behavioral Health Services.  She oversees the Kern County Mental Health Plan, responsible for providing a full array of mental health and substance use services for Medi-Cal Beneficiaries in Kern.  Stacy is a licensed Marriage Family Counselor and has over 20 years of experience working in the mental health field.   She started working for the County Behavioral Health Department in 2007 as a volunteer and has worked throughout many areas of the Behavioral Health Department.  Before working in the County, she has worked throughout California for private organizations and spent time working for the National Health System in England.  Ms. Kuwahara is certified as a Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt.  She holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.

CSUB Kegley Institute Fall Lecture Series

Kegley Institute of Ethics (KIE) programming and initiatives reach thousands of campus and community members each year. KIE is committed to serving our campus and community through ethics education, research, and practice. To this end, KIE hosts a bi-annual speaker series on timely ethical issues – ranging from human trafficking and poverty to free speech, global warming, and social justice problems (among many other topics) – as well as several ethics discussion panels and events each year for our faculty, students, and community members.  In addition, KIE provides ethics education resources and training for local teachers and ethics consulting for local hospitals, police, prisons, and community organizations. In addition, through the Ethics Across the Curriculum Program,  KIE provides training and funding support for California State University, Bakersfield faculty members to introduce ethics to students across CSUB. KIE is the premier resource for ethics education, research, and prominent, ethically relevant speakers in the Bakersfield region.

Local 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, Leadership, Class Building

Final Thoughts, Putting It All Together

Michael Turnipseed is the Executive Director of the Kern County Taxpayers Association. For 30 years, he was 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, greater 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 42 years, and they have two grown daughters, Amy and Alissa, and two granddaughters Hattie and Helen

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.  Before founding Heise Media Group, Ms. Heise was employed in the broadcasting industry for over 20 years and was a 100+ market board member for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).  She serves on numerous nonprofit boards and is currently a member of the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary, Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, California State University, Bakersfield Presidents’ Associates, and Mayor Harvey L. Hall’s HIRE Committee. Ms. Heise, a native of Wisconsin, has lived in Bakersfield for over 20 years and has one son, Nicholas, who graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from U.C. Riverside and is employed by Halliburton.