Pre-Summit Institute Speaker Bios
President, Kern Community College District Board of Trustees
Romeo Agbalog was named Executive Director of Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government (KCSG) in May 2017.
Prior to 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.
Romeo is also active and involved in our community as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Kern Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the United States spanning over 24,800 square miles, and serving over 26,000 students across Kern, Tulare, Inyo, Mono, and San Bernardino counties. Romeo is also a Commissioner on the Kern County Civil Service Commission appointed by the Kern County Board of Supervisors.
Romeo is a lifelong resident of Kern County, he and his wife Lilly have five children and reside in Delano.
Gustavo Aguirre Jr
Kern County Director, Central California Environmental Justice Network
Gustavo Aguirre Jr is a California native whose parents were farmworkers and traveled from the coast to the desert following the seasonal crops. Gustavo engaged in grassroots community organizing and social justice in 2006 as a senior at Foothill High School in East Bakersfield. Gustavo helped organize a walk out in solidarity with high school students across the nation protesting aggressive immigration laws.
Prior to joining CCEJN, Gustavo worked as an organizer in Arvin, CA with Global Community Monitoring. Since 2014 and with CCEJN, Gus has coordinated the IVAN Reporting Network in Kern County and has conducted environmental literacy workshops, as well as community science data gathering projects.
Gustavo has participated in various state panels including California Air Resources Board- Office of Community Air Protections – AB 617 Consultation group and Department of Conservations SB 83- Underground Injection Control review panel representing environmental justice communities in the Central Valley.
Executive Director of Workforce Development, Foundation for California Community Colleges
Tim Aldinger is Executive Director of Workforce Development at the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Aldinger has built and skillfully leads a 12-person workforce team that supports development, implementation, scaling, and sustainability of quality work-based learning opportunities for high school and college students to help improve workforce readiness. A respected adjunct faculty member of Sacramento State’s Workforce Development Professional Certificate and Apprenticeship Program, Aldinger also co-leads the California Workforce Association’s Executive Bootcamp, which he co-created.
- Expanded and diversified both public and private sector work-based learning opportunities through Career Catalyst and other key initiatives, placing more than 4,000 learners annually in short-term, part-time, summer, and full-time employment
- Oversaw support network development for the California Apprenticeship Initiative, a collaborative statewide initiative to diversify industries using apprenticeships and attract equitable workforces
- Led development of the award-winning LaunchPath technology tool, which connects employers with students seeking internship and job opportunities and is being used across the nation
A recognized workforce authority, Aldinger speaks nationally about workforce development, including most recently on automation, artificial intelligence, and mobile workforces. A public workforce system veteran, prior to joining the Foundation Aldinger trained and consulted for workforce professionals nationwide, including while serving as the National Association of Workforce Boards’ Manager of Training & Special Projects.
Aldinger earned his bachelor of arts in international studies from Southern Oregon University and his master of public management from Carnegie Mellon University. Additionally, Aldinger completed a highly competitive public affairs leadership training fellowship at the Coro Center for Civic Leadership.
Project Director – Educational Data & Policy for WestED
As part of WestEd’s Postsecondary Pathways and Career Mobility team, Kathy Booth leads projects that help translate data into action. She helps map data across systems, including crosswalking K–12 and community college offerings, tracing adult education pathways from K–12 to community college, documenting education pathways to employment, and aligning data from educational institutions and social service agencies that support workforce development.
Booth currently serves as the Process Facilitator for developing the California Cradle-to-Career Data System. She also serves as Associate Director for the California Guided Pathways project and conducts research with the Community College Research Center on how colleges have integrated career and transfer partnerships into pathways reforms.
For over five years, she was the project manager and architect for LaunchBoard, a suite of online data dashboards that make data on student progress, completion, employment, and earnings available to educators for the purpose of program improvement.
Booth also previously served as Executive Director of the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges. There, she helped lead activities such as developing the Career and Technical Education Outcomes Survey, expanding research on using high school data to inform placement into basic skills courses, investigating employment outcomes for short-term training, and documenting effective approaches for supporting students.
Booth has also worked on national projects, including the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Gates Foundation’s Completion by Design, and developmental education initiatives for Achieving the Dream.She received a BA in women’s studies, with a focus on integrating diversity into progressive politics, from Wesleyan University.
California State Senator
Steven Bradford brings a lifetime of experience to the California State Senate. In over two decades of public service – first as a Gardena City Councilmember, then as a State Assemblymember and now as a State Senator - Bradford has proven himself to be an unwavering citizen activist. He views himself as a public servant and not a politician. Public service was instilled in him by his parents who taught him the value of giving back to the community.
Prior to his service in local and state government, Bradford was a Public Affairs Manager for Southern California Edison, District Director for the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, Program Director for the LA Conservation Corps, National Director of Bigger and Better Business for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and worked for seven years as a marketing and sales representative for International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
He made history when he became the first African American elected to the Gardena City Council. Over the 12 years that he served on city council, he helped create robust job and economic growth, and stabilized the city’s budget.
When he was elected to the Council, the City of Gardena was on the brink of bankruptcy and was $27 million in debt. There was no money in the bank and employees had not been given raises in over seven years. By the time he left the council, they had eliminated the debt, allocated $8.5 million in reserve, increased employee salaries without raising taxes or cutting essential services, and secured millions of federal dollars for various improvement projects for North Gardena. He also authored and championed ordinances, which established the City’s Small Business Task Force and the City’s Police Foundation. As a former solid waste director, he brought those skills to bear, helping negotiate some of the lowest trash rates in the county. In addition, he served as Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Gardena for one year.
Bradford was elected to the 51st State Assembly District in a Special Election in 2009, reelected in 2010, and reelected again in 2012, but the second time around, to the newly created 62nd District. While serving in the Assembly, he rose to prominence by becoming Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, which had jurisdiction over electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, private water corporations and other issues related to commerce. In his role as Chair, he garnered national attention by presiding over hearings investigating the devastating power outages across California. He also created a $108 million program to assist low-income households install solar panels at home, increasing equity and the deployment of distributed clean energy resources.
In 2013, Assembly Speaker John Perez named Bradford Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color. Under his leadership, the committee examined many institutional injustices that plague young Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander males in California, which he continues to work on in the Senate. As a result of his efforts, Bradford was invited to the White House to attend President Barack Obama’s announcement of “My Brother’s Keeper,” a national initiative that reduces the opportunity gap faced by boys and men of color, which builds upon the work of his Select Committee.
As a member of the Assembly, Bradford had 43 bills signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Jerry Brown, including AB 1371 (Three Feet for Safety Act), AB 2188 (Disability Benefits), AB 2426 (Surrogacy Facilitators), AB 2567 (Vehicle Parking Violations), AB 651 (Expungement), AB 2634 (Civil Rights), AB 217 (Low-Income Solar), AB 128 (Reclassify LA World Airport Police), and the Jackie Robinson Assembly Resolution, HR 24.
In 2017, Senator Bradford was re-elected to the California State Legislature, and his first year in the Senate he was successful at getting 11 bills signed into law by Governor Brown. These laws improved public safety, transportation infrastructure, our worker’s compensation system, the state’s climate goals, and public education.
In addition to the legislative accomplishments, Bradford secured $11.3 million in the state budget for Compton Community College and helped secure a $35 million grant to Watts Rising for affordable housing, green space, and local workforce development. He previously served as Chair of the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and Chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. He currently chairs the Senate Committee on Public Safety.
In 2018, Senator Bradford had an additional 11 bills signed into law, including SB 1294: The California Cannabis Equity Act, a first-in-the-nation bill which encouraged equitable participation in the cannabis industry and fostered business opportunities for individuals who have been negatively impacted by the War on Drugs; SB 978, which increases law enforcement transparency and accountability; SB 1412, which expanded employment opportunities for rehabilitated individuals; and SB 343, which provided critical tax relief for relocated residents in Carson. Senator Bradford also instrumental in a handful of bills he co-authored that are now state law, including AB 987, which helped streamline the Inglewood Revitalization Project and Los Angeles Clippers Arena. In addition, Senator Bradford secured $5 million in funding for community college reentry programs for current and formerly incarcerated students and $10 million for local cities and counties with social equity programs to support individuals, who were most impacted by cannabis criminalization, enter the burgeoning cannabis industry.
In 2019, Senator Bradford was successful at getting 10 bills signed into law by Governor Newsom. The legislation covers a wide range of subject areas including: SB 595, which addresses the lack of inclusivity and equity within the cannabis industry by providing social equity applicants with application or licensing fee waivers and deferrals; SB 534, which created greater diversity within the insurance industry; and SB 206, a first-in-the-nation bill which allows college athletes who generate billions of dollars for corporate sponsors and their universities to also benefit from their skills and talents. After several states introduced bills modeled after SB 206, the NCAA supported rule changes allowing its student-athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness. As Chair of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, Senator Bradford helped financially empower underserved communities with funding generated from bad actors in the lending industry; and as a longstanding leader on energy, utilities and communications issues, three of his bills in these areas were signed into law. In addition, Senator Bradford was successful at securing over $40 million in critical funding for the support of cannabis equity programs, increasing support and services at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, and improving innovative rehabilitation programs at CDCR facilities.
In 2020, Senator Bradford was appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and elected by his peers to become Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). Due to COVID-19, the Senator consolidated his legislative package to focus on measures that addressed the pandemic, the state’s economic recovery, and other urgent issues.
All in all, the Governor signed 6 of his bills into law: AB 3088, which he joint authored to protect struggling tenants and small landlords by providing eviction relief and foreclosure protection; SB 1447 created a new $100 million small business hiring tax credit program; SB 1157, a first-in-the-nation requirement that allows tenants the option of reporting their rental payments and build credit; SB 203, which requires children to consult with legal counsel prior to interrogation and before waiving their Miranda rights; SB 1244 increases cannabis testing to make certain that it is safe for consumers and complies with regulations; and SB 1192, which creates important consumer protections for members of police, peace officer, and firefighter benefit associations. In addition, Senator Bradford secured $30 million for local implementation and the expansion of cannabis equity programs serving individuals most harmed by cannabis prohibition. He also continued his support for the important education provided by Charles R. Drew University with a $7.5 million allocated in the budget for student services and academic facility upgrades.
In 2021, Senator Bradford continued his work as Chair of the Public Safety Committee and CLBC. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins appointed Senator Bradford as a member to California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. California became the first state government in the country to establish a task force for this purpose. Despite the difficulties of the continuing pandemic, 7 of Senator Bradford’s bills were signed by Governor Newsom, including: SB 2, arguably the biggest police reform bill California has seen in the last decade, creates the first statewide process in the state to decertify police officers who abuse the public trust and commit serious acts of misconduct; SB 796, which authorizes the County of L.A. to return the stolen property known as Bruce’s Beach back to the descendants of the Bruce family; SB 26 the Fair Pay to Play Act 2.0, moves up the implementation date of SB 206 and allows athletes to earn money from their athletic reputation; SB 567, which revises current criminal sentencing procedures to correct 14 years of injustice; SB 655, which expands the Supplier Diversity Survey and Governing Board Survey to more companies and requires stronger diversity goals; SB 694, a bill that requires electrical utilities to report a detailed summary of their workforce development efforts; and SB 586, which makes clarifying and supporting changes to SB 2. Through his efforts, Senator Bradford secured more than $140 million in direct, equitable investments for Senate District 35 in 2021.
In his free time, you will often find him on the golf course or attending jazz events. He started a Junior Golf program while on the city council and his favorite community event is the Gardena Jazz Festival, where he serves as the Founder and Chair. The festival has been celebrated for 16 years and is one of the most popular events in the South Bay. Bradford grew up in Gardena, where he resides to this day. He coached football and baseball for sixteen years in Gardena’s Parks and Recreation League and attended San Diego State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He currently serves on the board of the Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank.
Executive Vice President, UC Office of the President
Nathan Brostrom returned to the UC Office of the President in July 2020 to resume his position as executive vice president and chief financial officer for the University of California. He served as interim chancellor of UC Merced since August 2019.
A second priority was to deliver the Merced 2020 capital project — a $1.3 billion public-private partnership to double the size of the campus — on time and on budget, which was achieved in June 2020.
Finally, he sought to diversify the revenue base of the campus in order to strengthen its financial sustainability. He introduced the campus to several new foundation and corporate partners, and increased philanthropy by nearly 50% in the year. He spent the last five months of his tenure as Chancellor leading the campus through the shutdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, and planning for the partial resumption of campus operations in the fall of 2020.
Mr. Brostrom previously served, and currently serves, as executive vice president and chief financial officer for the University of California. In that position, he oversaw all aspects of financial management for the UC system, which includes 10 UC campuses, five academic medical centers and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His areas of responsibility included asset management, debt management, the systemwide operating budget, capital finance and planning, risk services, procurement and financial accounting. The University has an annual operating budget in excess of $38 billion, and manages assets of $137 billion.
Before becoming systemwide CFO in 2014, Brostrom served as executive vice president for business operations, after spending three years as vice chancellor for administration at UC Berkeley, beginning in 2006.
Prior to that, Brostrom spent 10 years as managing director and manager of the Western Region Public Finance group for JPMorgan, where he worked on financings totaling more than $100 billion for municipal clients throughout the western United States.
He serves on the boards for the Keck Telescope and the Thirty-Meter Telescope, and has led two systemwide reviews of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. He is also a board member of Fiat Lux and of Futures Without Violence, an international organization that works to reduce domestic abuse and violence against women and children. Brostrom graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University and holds a master’s degree in public and international affairs from Princeton University. He and his wife Caitlin live in Berkeley.
Director, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)
Kim Budil is the 13th director in the history of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where she leads the development and implementation of LLNL’s scientific vision, goals, and objectives, and serves as the Laboratory’s highest-level liaison with the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, Board of Governors, the University of California and other government, public, and private organizations.
She joined LLNL in 1987 as a graduate student and went on to hold roles of increasing responsibility across many LLNL programs. She also served as the vice president for national laboratories in the University of California Office of the President, in which she was responsible for the governance and oversight of Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley and Los Alamos national laboratories, as well as development of strategic partnerships between the 10 UC campuses and the laboratories.
She received her Ph.D. in engineering/applied science from the University of California, Davis, and is a Hertz Foundation Fellow and board member.
Director, Early College - Kern Community College District
Before working in secondary education, Kylie was a high school Math teacher and Principal. She has a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from BIOLA University and a master's in Educational Leadership from CSU Fullerton. When she is not creating opportunities for high school students to earn college credit, Kylie enjoys spending time at home with her dog Oscar Meyer or creating a spreadsheet to help simplify someone's work or personal life.
Senior Director - Careers Ladders Project
Naomi leads CLP’s work on dual enrollment statewide. Her approach is informed by deep experience in both teaching and administration at community colleges and at middle and high schools.Named a California Education Policy Fellow for 2019-2020, Naomi is widely recognized for her expertise on community college reform in California. She helps to mold CLP’s research agenda and support strategic college leaders with legislative, regulatory, and policy advising.
Naomi has led CLP projects funded by the California Career Pathways Trust and the Strong Workforce Program and projects to build capacity for Guided Pathways implementation. She offers legislative briefings. And she co-authored the Dual Enrollment Toolkit and “Creating a Dual Enrollment Partnership,” which are used by practitioners across California.
Based in Southern California, she is an adjunct professor of education at Compton College and previously served as Career Pathways Director at El Camino College. She began her career as a middle and high school teacher and principal in Tucson, Arizona. Her passion for career pathways is rooted in her relationship with her father, a working blacksmith in rural Louisiana who taught her how to forge steel; he also taught her how to frame out a room, hang drywall, do basic electrical work and plumbing, and rebuild the engine of her 1972 Volkswagen Thing.
Naomi holds a doctorate in educational leadership, administration, and policy from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in teaching and teacher education and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Arizona.
Director – California Office of the Small Business Advocate
Ben Chida is the chief deputy cabinet secretary for the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, where he has served as senior policy advisor for cradle to career. Previously, Chida was an attorney at an international law firm, an attorney-advisor in the executive office of Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, and a judicial law clerk to federal judges in California and on the D.C. Circuit. Earlier in his career, Chida was a third grade teacher at P.S. 325 in New York City and a roofer while attending a continuation high school.
Chancellor, Kern Community College District
In July 2021, Dr. Sonya Christian became the sixth chancellor of the Kern Community College District, where her priority for faculty, staff and students across the 25,000 sq miles of the district’s service area has been to rapidly advance student success and economic mobility with equity. Her call to action to colleagues and friends in the community - Dare Mighty Things - inspired by the quote on NASA's Perseverance Mars lander, instilled urgency to the work across the district.
Dr. Christian has been leading Kern CCD to prepare the workforce of tomorrow for careers in emerging energy and climate technologies, with an insistent focus on equity by building community resilience and empowerment. For example, under her leadership, in August 2022, the California Resources Corp. pledged $2M to the Kern CCD to establish the CRC Carbon Management Institute, and the state funded $50M to establish a clean energy center of excellence at Kern CCD.
Dr. Christian began her three-decade career in education at Kern CCD in 1991, first as a mathematics professor and later as division chair, then Dean of Science, Engineering, Allied Health and Mathematics at Bakersfield College. In 2003, Dr. Christian joined Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, as associate vice president for instruction, then vice president of academic and student affairs and chief academic officer. Dr. Christian returned home to Kern CCD in 2013 after being selected as the 10th President in Bakersfield College’s prestigious history. As faculty and then President, Dr. Christian has always been deeply committed to equity, which she has demonstrated through her work in the areas of Guided Pathways and Early College.
Dr. Christian is the Immediate Past Chair of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), which she chaired from 2020-2022. She began her service with the ACCJC in 2015. She currently serves on the boards for the Campaign for College Opportunity, the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, the Equity in Policy Implementation Advisory Board, and is the Vice Chair of the California Community Colleges Women's Caucus. Dr. Christian has previously served on the Learning Lab Advisory Council (2020-2022) and Bakersfield Homeless Shelter Board, and was appointed by the Governor to the Student Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee (2018-2022).
Dr. Christian earned her bachelor of science degree from University of Kerala in Kerala, India; her master of science in applied mathematics from University of Southern California; and her doctorate from University of California, Los Angeles.
Senior Director of Climate Strategies at the Foundation for California Community Colleges
Jeffrey Clary is Senior Director of Climate Strategies at the Foundation for California Community Colleges. This new area of focus at the Foundation bridges existing institutional strengths in workforce development, equity and community impact, and facilities and operations to address climate-related challenges facing Californians.
Community Colleges provide unique opportunities to partner with agencies, industries, tribal communities, labor, grass-roots organizations, non-profits and individuals with stakes in environmental justice, climate adaptation, and climate mitigation. Clary brings many years of experience navigating institutional ecosystems and creating partnerships to build programs and achieve impact.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Clary served as administrative director for the UC Davis Natural Reserve System, a network of research, teaching and outreach field stations located in natural settings across northern California. The Natural Reserves host environmental science researchers from around the world, many of whom focus on climate change impacts on natural landscapes of California.
For more than five years, Clary proudly served as adjunct professor at Cosumnes River College, where he taught biology and biology lab for future health and veterinary professionals and for biology majors. He also served a year as a graduate program coordinator in the plant sciences for a consortium of universities in Switzerland.
Clary earned his bachelor of science in biology at University of Texas, Austin, and his PhD in ecology at the University of California, Davis. He also received a Fulbright scholarship for research at the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology in Barcelona, Spain, and completed a postdoc in plant ecology at the University of Montpellier III in France.
Vice President, Western State Petroleum Association
Tanya DeRivi joined the WSPA team in April 2022. In her role as Vice President, Climate Policy, she oversees regional and Association-wide climate regulatory policy initiatives, supports legislative activities on climate policy, and offers strategic planning, goal setting, and direction in terms of policy and technical direction on climate policy for the Association.
Prior to joining WSPA, Tanya spent 20 years working on electricity and energy policies at the local, state, and federal levels. This includes 10 years on federal energy and climate change policies in Washington, D.C., seven years in Sacramento representing Southern California utilities on state and federal regulatory and legislative policies, and five years working for the City of Los Angeles on environmental issues.
Tanya earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California.
Co-Founder Environmental Entrepreneurs Co-Founder & Former EVP, Sybase
Bob Epstein is an entrepreneur and engineer with a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a co-founder of five companies: Sybase, New Resource Bank, GetActive Software, Colorado Microdisplay, and Britton-Lee. Bob is an elected Director of the Kirkwood Meadows Public Utility District, a co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), serves on the advisory board of the UC Davis Institute for Transportation Studies, and on the Executive Committee of the Berkeley Food Institute.
Bob co-founded Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) with Nicole Lederer. E2 is a national community of professionals and business people who believe in protecting the environment while building economic prosperity. He led the E2 team that helped to pass California’s major global warming bills – the “Clean Cars Bill” and the “Global Warming Solutions Act”. Bob was part of the team that created the Berkeley Food Institute at U.C. Berkeley. His community activities are focused on the environment, public education, sustainable food systems and music. Bob is a classical pianist and performs four-hand and solo piano.
Mayor, City of Bakersfield
Karen Goh is mayor of the City of Bakersfield, California’s ninth largest city. She also is president/CEO of Garden Pathways, a community-based non-profit that mentors and educates at-risk persons. Karen previously served on the Board of Supervisors of the County of Kern, having been appointed by the governor.
Prior to that, she volunteered as executive director of Garden Pathways, after having a career in New York City where she held executive positions in educational publishing at The McGraw-Hill Companies (executive editor, editorial director, managing editor, VP editorial administration, VP administration, and VP publishing operations).
She is a University of Southern California undergraduate and graduate school alumna.
Interim Chancellor, California Community Colleges
The California Community Colleges Board of Governors has unanimously selected Deputy Chancellor Daisy Gonzales, PhD, to serve as interim chancellor of the 116-college system as it conducts a national search to fill the position that Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley vacated July 31.
Gonzales has overseen operational and strategic policy planning for the Chancellor’s Office since 2018 and chairs the system’s statewide participatory governance body, Consultation Council. A fearless advocate for students, Gonzales has been an Aspen Institute presidential fellow, serves on the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and was recognized as a 2021 woman of the year by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis.
“California’s 116 colleges are the entryway to higher education for the majority of Californians. I am grateful and humbled by the Board of Governors’ support and confidence to continue to serve our students. The work ahead is clear, we will continue to fully implement the Board of Governors Vision for Success, and during this time period we will make significant progress toward Governor Newsom’s Roadmap for the Future of California,” said Gonzales. “I look forward to continuing to support our campus leaders through this transformational time, and I am optimistic that our collective work will yield progress because of the leadership of our students and the dedicated faculty and staff who share in our vision to ensure that every student realizes their goals and dreams in California.”
During Gonzales’ time as deputy chancellor, students across all groups and regions of California have seen improved outcomes. The number of students earning a college credential increased by 27 percent and the number of students earning transfer preparation associate degrees more than doubled.
Gonzales affirmed the California Community Colleges will remain focused on the system’s Vision for Success in tandem with advancing the Roadmap for the Future, a framework established by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature that sets multi-year goals and resources, to drive equitable improvements in credential attainment and transfer outcomes across all state higher education segments.
A key focus for Gonzales has been leading the system’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility work, which has produced concrete policy changes to better serve a diverse student population by improving hiring practices and campus climate throughout the college system. Action taken this year by the Board of Governors incorporates Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility competencies and criteria into performance evaluations and tenure review for all employees.
Gonzales previously served the 116-college system as acting chancellor during a five-month period in 2021 while Oakley served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Her swift student-centered and safety-forward actions supported colleges through rampant wildfires, an ongoing pandemic. During this time, Gonzales led the system with clear and consistent communication with district leaders, collaborative approaches to coordinate state and federal resources for colleges and remained focused on updating policies that prevented colleges and districts from responding with urgency. Prior to joining the chancellor’s office, Gonzales was the principal consultant for the California Assembly Appropriations Committee, associate director of Policy Analysis for California Education at Stanford University, Assembly Budget Committee Consultant, and a third-grade teacher. Gonzales received her PhD in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Gonzales assumed the role of Interim Chancellor on August 1, 2022, and her appointment is expected to last for up to 12 months while the Board of Governors undertakes a search for a permanent chancellor.
External Affairs Advisor for California Resource Corporation
Tara Lynn Gray
Director – California Office of the Small Business Advocate
As Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate inside of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Tara Lynn Gray is focused on further developing the state’s small business ecosystem and ensuring equity is front and center as she administers the small business programs for which she is responsible. Gray is a visionary breaking new ground in non-traditional spaces and is not afraid to ask the hard questions and engage in serious conversations to bring the Governor’s vision of a California for All to fruition.
Regional Chair/Dean of Workforce and Economic Development
Dr. Jessica Grimes serves as Regional Chair/Dean of Economic and Workforce Development of the Central/Mother Lode Regional Consortium (CRC) hosted at the Kern Community College District. A dynamic advocate and gifted administrator, Jessica prioritizes connecting academic and corporate communities to enhance career pathways that lead to good quality jobs for disproportionately impacted students.
Jessica invests significant time in building up her community as the chairperson of No Sister Left Behind, a member of California State University of Bakersfield’s President’s Community Ambassadors, and as a board member for Kegley Institute of Ethics, United Way of Kern County, as well as Adventist Health of Kern County.
Vice Chair – California Energy Commission
Commissioner Siva Gunda is serving his first term on the California Energy Commission. Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Gunda in February 2021 to serve as the Energy Commission’s public member. Gunda was later appointed to Vice Chair in September 2021. He is the lead commissioner on energy assessments.
Gunda served as manager of the Demand Analysis Office and deputy director for the Energy Commission’s Energy Assessments Division. The division forecasts and assesses energy demands and supplies.
Before joining the Energy Commission, he served in a variety of capacities at the Energy Efficiency Institute at the University of California, Davis, including as the director of research, where he directed the institute’s operations and research portfolio.
CEO/President – California Manufactures & Technology Association
Lance Hastings is the president and CEO of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA). He has held several leadership roles at MillerCoors the past 15 years. He served most recently as Vice President of National Affairs for MillerCoors. Prior to that he served as Head of Regulatory & Tax Affairs for SABMiller. He also represented Miller Brewing Company and MillerCoors in Sacramento as Director of State Government Affairs, where he served on CMTA's Board of Directors. Before his long career as a manufacturing executive, Hastings was the Vice President and Director of Government Relations from 1998 to 2003 at the California Grocers Association. Hastings also worked in the California State Legislature for almost a decade as a chief consultant, starting in 1989.Hastings has a Bachelors of Arts in Economics and a Minor in Government from California State University at Sacramento
Senior Vice President, Commercial Affairs at Hydrostor
Curt Hildebrand brings over 35 years of experience and leadership in the independent power and renewable energy industries. Mr. Hildebrand has served in a wide array of highly productive management roles in project development, power sales & marketing, project finance, government & regulatory affairs and business development.
Mr. Hildebrand joined Hydrostor in October 2020 and currently serves as Senior Vice President – Commercial Affairs. His responsibilities at Hydrostor include leading the company’s commercial and business development activities in U.S. markets, as well as advancing and growing Hydrostor’s Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) project portfolio in North America.
Mr. Hildebrand has played a pioneering role in establishing the successful merchant power industry in the U.S. He served as Senior Vice President with Calpine Corporation (1995-2006) and was instrumental in the development, finance, construction and marketing of the company’s 28,000 MW power generation portfolio.
Mr. Hildebrand successfully developed the 578 MW Sutter Energy Center in California in 1999. The $270 million power plant represented the first major project constructed in California under the newly deregulated electricity market without the support of a power purchase agreement. The Sutter project also was the first significant new natural gas-fired project to be licensed by the California Energy Commission (CEC) in well over a decade.
The project interconnected directly with the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) system and Mr. Hildebrand successfully led the complex WAPA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and CEC Authority for Construction (AFC) permitting processes in parallel. Sutter went on-line in 2001 and provided critical new generation capacity during the California energy crisis.
Another highlight of Mr. Hildebrand’s development accomplishments was the extremely controversial 608 MW Metcalf Energy Center Project located in San Jose, CA. The highly publicized project faced significant and well-funded local opposition. In spite of the considerable controversy surrounding the project, Mr. Hildebrand led a comprehensive public and industry outreach campaign that helped earn an unprecedented level of support for Metcalf including U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, Gov. Gray Davis, the California State Assembly (70-0), the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors (5-0), the Sierra Club, the American Lung Association, the NAACP, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group and over 70% of local registered voters. The CEC (5-0) granted Metcalf final approvals including the only override of a local jurisdiction in its history and the project successfully reached commercial operation in 2005.
While at Calpine, Mr. Hildebrand served and the General Manager of the Calpine-Bechtel Joint Venture that was established to develop new power projects located in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. Under his management, this Joint Venture successfully permitted over 3,200 MW of new capacity and successfully developed the 857 MW Delta Energy Center in Pittsburg, CA and the 619 MW Russell City Energy Center in Hayward, CA. Mr. Hildebrand also served as Senior Vice President – Marketing & Sales for Calpine’s Western Region (WECC). In this role, he and his staff managed business relations and accounts with over 50 customers in the western U.S. and Canada. He was responsible for energy sales and other commercial transactions from the region’s $8 billion portfolio of Calpine generation and natural gas assets. Mr. Hildebrand negotiated, executed and secured regulatory approvals for the first major long-term power purchase agreement with a regulated California utility in over 15 years. Revenues from this transaction exceeded $800 million.
Mr. Hildebrand has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission and numerous other state and local legislative and regulatory agencies. He has an extensive background in all aspects of project development and has been directly responsible for the successful permitting, development, financing and construction of over 4,500 MW of profitable new gas-fired, wind and solar generation projects in California and the Western U.S.
Mr. Hildebrand has also held various technical, finance, development and senior management roles with Western Energy Partners, Agile Energy, Inc., TSMC Solar North America, Inc., GreenWing Energy Management, Ltd, Magma Power Co. and Unocal Geothermal Corp. His accomplishments within these organizations are highlighted by his pivotal contributions that resulted in the construction of over $5 billion in new energy projects in the U.S. and internationally.
Curt received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1985 and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of California.
President and Co-Founder of WattEV
Umar Javed is President and co-founder of WattEV and has a mission to speed up the transition of US trucking transport into zero emission faster than anyone could expect. WattEV uses a combination of business and technology innovation to create infrastructure and data driven workflow that provides truckers and fleet operators the lowest total cost of ownership. Mr. Javed has founded several businesses and served in executive roles at multiple companies including STM Group, Charge America, Global IP, and Vodanet.
He has a proven track record of establishing successful business ventures in various sectors in the U.S. and internationally. He has both developed and invested in major infrastructure projects worldwide access EV charging, telecom, hospitality, and satellite networks. Mr. Javed holds maters’ degrees in business administration and economics.
Director – NREL & President of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy
Martin Keller has served as director of NREL and president of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy—the company that operates NREL for the U.S. Department of Energy—since 2015.
Under his leadership, the number of full-time employees at NREL has increased by more than 32%. Keller is a visionary leader who is committed to people, teams, and partnerships. He innovatively and pragmatically applies private sector best practices at NREL to achieve game-changing scientific outcomes.
Working collaboratively with his leadership team, he developed a strategy for NREL focused on three key initiatives: integrated energy pathways, circular economy, and electrons to molecules. This strategy drives advanced scientific research, programs, projects, and partnerships at NREL.
From 2006 to 2015, Keller led energy, biological, and environmental research programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His efforts culminated in his being promoted to serve as the associate laboratory director for the Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate during his last 6 years there. Earlier in his career, Keller’s dedicated work in a variety of research management positions at Diversa Corp. enhanced and developed the microbiology expertise of this biotech company. Currently, he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement Science and recently retired as chair of its Industrial Science and Technology Section. In addition, Keller is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council for Julich Forschungszentrum and serves on numerous scientific advisory boards. Keller received his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Regensburg, Germany.
Dr. Anthony Kinslow II
Founder and CEO, Gemini Energy Solutions
Anthony, the Founder and CEO of Gemini Energy Solutions, is an expert in energy efficiency analytics and building science and a research-oriented practitioner who utilizes best practices from around the world to develop innovative solutions for his clients. His company's focus is reflective of Anthony's mission in life — making a meaningful impact on mitigating global warming.
In Gemini, Anthony has created a vehicle to engage, educate, and energize underrepresented minority communities and the underserved small commercial building market in energy efficiency. Under Anthony’s leadership, Gemini is implementing strategies for overcoming cultural and socio-economic barriers that prevent the vast majority of Americans from being aware or engaged in energy efficiency.
Operating nationwide, the company also partners with municipalities — such as San Francisco International Airport and Memphis, TN — to support their efforts to meet their climate change goals and increase economic resiliency through energy efficiency.
Chancellor, California State University
Dr. Jolene Koester began her tenure as the California State University’s interim chancellor on May 1, 2022. Her appointment is expected to last between 12 and 15 months, as the CSU Board of Trustees conducts a national search for the university’s next regularly appointed chancellor. The appointment marks a return to the CSU for Dr. Koester, who enjoyed a long and distinguished career at the university – one that spanned nearly 30 years.
Most recently, Dr. Koester served as president of California State University, Northridge from 2000 until 2011. She successfully led CSUN through a period of unprecedented growth, with the student population increasing by more than 25 percent during her tenure, from 29,000 to nearly 37,000 students. Under Dr. Koester’s leadership, this period of growth coincided with dramatic improvements in student success, including significant gains in both graduation and retention rates. During her administration, the campus also solidified its position as the intellectual and cultural hub of Greater Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley.
The Soraya, CSUN’s state-of-the-art performing arts center which opened in 2011, perennially offers a calendar featuring student performers and world-renowned visiting musicians and dance troupes.
Prior to her presidency at CSUN, Dr. Koester served as provost of California State University, Sacramento. During her 17-year career on the Sacramento State campus, she also served as an associate professor, professor, department chair, assistant vice president, associate vice president and vice president for academic affairs.
Dr. Koester’s prior experience in higher education also includes service at the University of Missouri, Columbia and the University of Minnesota. Throughout her career, Dr. Koester has developed a well-earned reputation as an ethical and purpose-driven leader, a champion of student success and inclusive excellence, and an unwavering supporter of innovation in teaching and learning.
Since her retirement from CSUN in 2011, Dr. Koester has continued to advance these values and ideals, serving as senior consultant for American Association of State Colleges and Universities Consulting. In this role, she has worked with university presidents and chancellors to enhance student success through improved strategic planning, change management, enhanced communications, and team building. Dr. Koester earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin before returning to the University of Minnesota to earn her Ph.D. in speech communication.
California State Treasurer
Fiona Ma is California’s 34th State Treasurer. She was elected on November 6, 2018 with more votes (7,825,587) than any other candidate for treasurer in the state's history. She is the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position.
The State Treasurer’s Office was created in the California Constitution in 1849. It provides financing for schools, roads, housing, recycling and waste management, hospitals, public facilities, and other crucial infrastructure projects that better the lives of residents.
One committee Treasurer Ma chairs, the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), helps clean and green our state. It awards sales tax exclusions for manufacturers that reduce pollution, while retaining jobs, including to companies that make electric vehicles, turn farm waste into energy, and produce jet fuel out of renewable sources.
California is the world’s fifth-largest economy and Treasurer Ma is the state’s primary banker. Her office processes more than $2 trillion in payments within a typical year and provides transparency and oversight for an investment portfolio of more than $124 billion, approximately $34.8 billion of which are local government funds. She also is responsible for $93 billion in outstanding general obligation and lease revenue bonds of the state.
In 2020 the State Treasurer’s office was the agent of sale for about $20 billion in debt, which financed many building projects that created thousands of construction jobs. Of that debt, $6.2 billion refinanced previous debt, creating a present value savings of $1.8 billion for California taxpayers.
Most recently before being elected Treasurer, she was an elected member of the California Board of Equalization from 2015 until January 2019 and worked to protect the rights of taxpayers while ensuring California collected its fair share of tax revenues. Her district covered 23 counties in California and included approximately 9.5 million people. Upon being selected Chairperson of the Board of Equalization in 2016, she ordered three external audits of the agency and helped lead the biggest reforms for accountability and efficiency in that agency’s history.
A top priority for her on the Board of Equalization was ensuring that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, including efforts to require online-retailers such as Amazon to collect sales taxes on transactions from third-party sellers in order to help local brick-and-mortar retailers compete – ultimately generating new revenues estimated between $431 million and $1.8 billion for California every year. She also advocated for taxing e-cigarettes similarly to other tobacco products – deterring vaping and smoking and paying for health costs related to tobacco use. In 2017, voters passed Proposition 56 with two-thirds of the vote, collecting $1.7 billion in new tobacco taxes to fund anti-smoking programs and Medi-Cal payments for the poor.
Also while on the Board of Equalization, she identified the cannabis industry as the largest shadow economy in California with “hundreds of millions of dollars that disappear into an underground cannabis economy” and led efforts to regulate the industry, develop systems to “track and trace” all cannabis in California, and develop legal banking mechanisms for cannabis businesses.
Treasurer Ma was a member of the State Assembly from 2006-2012, serving as Speaker pro Tempore from 2010 to 2012. She built a reputation as a solution-oriented public servant and was adept at building unlikely coalitions to overcome California's most complex problems. Prior to serving as Speaker pro Tempore, she was Assembly Majority Whip and built coalitions during a state budget crisis to pass groundbreaking legislation that protected public education and the environment while also expanding access to health care.
As an Assembly Member, she authored 60 bills that were signed into law by two different governors – most were first-in-the-nation and required no taxpayer money. Her successful legislation to ban toxic chemicals in baby products, known as phthalates, became a model for federal legislation that was authored by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2008. She chaired the Assembly Select Committee on Domestic Violence and spearheaded legislation that strengthened laws protecting victims of domestic violence, consumers and working families; prevented the spread of Hepatitis B; increased access to quality healthcare; and, provided equal rights for all Californians.
From 2002-2006, she served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and championed a human rights campaign to end human trafficking in massage parlors and to close prostitution rings. She led an effort to create the city's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program to empower small businesses to more easily participate in public works projects.
Treasurer Ma first became involved in public service in 1994 when she was elected president of the Asian Business Association, where she began advocating at San Francisco City Hall and the State Capitol on behalf of minority business owners. Her work resulted in her election in 1995 as a delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business, where she advocated for socially responsible contracting for minorities and women in San Francisco, ultimately producing a report to Congress detailing 60 top policy recommendations to help small businesses grow and prosper in the 21st century.
Also in 1995, she was appointed to the Assessment Appeals Board of San Francisco by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. That year she started her public service career as a part-time district representative for then-State Senator John Burton and served as Burton’s district representative until her election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. For Burton, she was responsible for helping constituents with Medi-Cal, Workers’ Compensation, Unemployment Insurance, Franchise and Employment Development Department taxes, and professional licensing.
From 1989-93 she worked for Ernst & Whinney, in the real estate tax group, before starting her own accounting practice in San Francisco. Today Ernst & Young is one of the largest professional services firms in the world and considered one of the "big four" accounting firms.
Treasurer Ma has been a licensed CPA in California since 1992 and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY), a Master’s Degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University (SF), and an MBA from Pepperdine University.
She is a Member of the Vatican’s Council for Inclusive Capitalism, Member of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, serves on the Board of California Women Lead, is an Honorary Chair and Spokesperson for the San Francisco Hepatitis B Free Campaign, and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Treasurer Ma is also active with the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST): 2020 Chair of ABLE Committee and Member of the Legislative Committee; and a member of the CalCPA society. She is married to Jason Hodge, a full-time firefighter and Oxnard Harbor Commissioner.
Mark (Mac) McFarland
President & Chief Executive Officer at California Resources Corporation
Mark A. (Mac) McFarland was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of California Resources Corporation in March 2021 and has been a member of its Board of Directors since October 2020, serving as Chairman of the Board from October 2020 to April 2021.
Mr. McFarland is the former Executive Chairman of GenOn Energy, Inc., an independent power producer. From April 2017 to December 2018, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of GenOn and served on its Board until September 2022. From 2013 to 2016, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Luminant Holding Company LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings Corporation, and a large independent power producer. From 2008 to 2013, he served as both Chief Commercial Officer of Luminant and Executive Vice President, Corporate Development and Strategy of Energy Future Holdings. From 1999 to 2008, Mr. McFarland served in various roles at Exelon Corporation, including as Senior Vice President, Corporate Development from 2005 to 2008 and Vice President, Exelon Generation from 2003 to 2005. In addition to the GenOn Board, Mr. McFarland previously served on the Board of Managers of Bruin E&P Partners, LLC (March 2020 to August 2020), the Board of Directors of TerraForm Power, Inc. (October 2017 to July 2020) and the Board of Directors of Chaparral Energy, Inc. (December 2019 to October 2020).
Mr. McFarland earned his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Delaware and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering (Environmental Concentration) from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He received his professional engineer license in 1995.
Deputy Director UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy
Colin Murphy is the Deputy Director of the Policy Institute, where he helps guide research and outreach on issues relating to transportation, energy, air quality, and carbon markets. Prior to joining the Policy Institute, he was a Science Policy Fellow with the California Council on Science and Technology, and an advocate for sustainable transportation and energy policy with the NextGen Policy Center, where he helped extend California's climate programs through 2030. He has a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from UC Davis, a M.S. in Science, Technology and Public Policy from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Transportation Technology and Policy from UC Davis.
California Deputy Secretary for Energy
Le-Quyen Nguyen joined the California Natural Resources Agency in April 2022 as the Deputy Secretary for Energy. In this role, she guides the Agency’s energy policies and programs in support of California’s energy and decarbonization goals.
Before her appointment, Le-Quyen worked at the California Energy Commission, where she held a variety of positions. This included Chief of Staff to the Chair, Manager of the Supply Analysis Office, and special advisor to a Commissioner.
Le-Quyen earned a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Riverside. When not at work, Le-Quyen enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and gardening.
Chief Executive Officer – Rondo Energy
John has over 30 years of experience taking novel solutions from conception to reality across the energy, semiconductor and supercomputer industries. Prior to founding Rondo, John served as co-founder and vice president of development for GlassPoint Solar, which delivered solar industrial heat worldwide. He previously cofounded and led Ausra, a pioneer in solar thermal electric systems. John served as a lead engineer for Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he designed award-winning technology to support fusion experiments. He is a published author of numerous technical papers and holds more than 20 patents in the U.S. and internationally. John earned a B.Sc. with Special Distinction in Computer Science from Yale University.
President/CEO, Building Healthy Communities Kern
Olaguez supports Building Healthy Communities, South Kern and the action teams by increasing their visibility within Kern County.
Olaguez attended California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) where she earned her master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management. Olaguez also received her bachelor’s degree in political science at CSUB in 2007.
Olaguez has always enjoyed working with her community. After college, she completed an internship with Radio Campesina in Bakersfield and later became the radio stations community outreach director. Olaguez went on to serve as a legislative aide to former California State Senator Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento.
Olaguez also worked for the U.S. Census Bureau as a partnership specialist for Kern County. Olaguez also manages South Kern Sol, a project of the nonprofit New America Media.
Director – California Renewable Energy Laboratory Kern CCD
Born and raised in Bakersfield, California, Parra has spent most of her life in public service working for the residents of the Central Valley. Parra has more than 30 years of extensive legislative and political experience. She spent ten years, working on behalf of Central Valley residents, for U.S. Congressman Cal Dooley (retired), was elected to the California State Assembly (2002-2008), and appointed to a high- level position within the Business, Transportation and Housing agency by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Parra graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1992 with a B.A. in Economics. In 1998, she earned a J.D. from the Catholic University School of Law in Washington D.C.
Parra has been recognized over the years by her community and academic institutions including the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by U.C. Berkeley in 2009 and in 2017, Parra was inducted into the first class of the Highland High School Alumni Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Parra was hired as an Adjunct Professor at California State University Bakersfield where she was an instructor for American Government and Politics, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties courses for two years. In 2016, Parra was hired as the campaign manager for the Measure J Campaign for the Kern Community College District, a $500M school bond that passed with a 2/3 vote. In 2017, Parra was hired as the State Government Affairs Manager for Marathon Petroleum Corporation where she worked directly with representatives from the Legislative and Executive branches of government, regarding energy policy. In 2020, Parra was nominated (and later elected) to the Women in California Politics (WICP) Board by California Treasurer Fiona Ma. The mission of WICP is to educate, empower and inspire future generations of women to foster the spirit of public service and encourage community involvement.
Currently, Parra is the Director of the California Renewable Energy Laboratory (CREL) at the Kern Community College District. As a result of recent legislative advocacy, CREL working in partnership with national laboratories, government organizations, community-based organizations, employers, and workers will support a comprehensive cluster of Energy Centers of Excellence. These Energy Centers of Excellence will focus on Carbon Management, Clean Energy & Grid Reliance, and Clean Transportation.
President, Imperial Mobility Development LLC
Windell Pascascio’s lifelong dream was to build a respectful Electrical Contractor Firm and at the age of 26, he was able to accomplish this. Starting out of his garage, his family was his biggest motivation and the driving force behind his vision of success.
Windell has been certified through St. Mary's Economic Business, Western Electrical Contractors Association, Turner Construction School of Management, LRN Transportation, Minority Business Enterprise, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, and Small Business Enterprise, and many more with longer acronyms. Imperial Electric Service prides themselves in their knowledge and experience in Electrical and Civil Engineering, Utility Infrastructure, EV Charging Stations, Energy Storage, and Photovoltaic Systems.
Windell and his team have established themselves in the EV Charging industry, which has allowed them to thrive throughout the entire state of California and now into Washington. Imperial Electric Service has strategically built two facilities in the Central Valley, which has allowed Windell to service clients more easily through the state. Due to their commitment to quality and client satisfaction, Imperial Electric Service has established a culture of Quality, Reliability, and Trust.
While Windell’s focus is growing in the electrical industry, he has always maintained his civil duty to his community by providing employment opportunity, youth training, and community outreach. Windell Pascascio has dedicated every moment of his time to leaving a better world for his Wife and Children.
Civic Engagement Director – Dolores Huerta Foundation
Lori began her career studying the humanities in the Jesuit tradition in Seattle, Italy, East Germany, Cuba and Mexico, then teaching 6th grade newcomer students in Delano, California. Lori earned her Juris Doctorate from UC Hastings College of the Law and worked in a variety of public interest contexts including the San Francisco District Attorney’s office under Kamala Harris, the Kern County Public Defenders Office, public employee unions, legal aid organizations, and higher education.
At DHF, Lori runs comprehensive strategic civic engagement and legislative advocacy programming that has transformed power dynamics in the Central Valley. DHF’s redistricting campaign was the most comprehensive grassroots community mapping effort ever in the history of the Central Valley and reached over 5,000 residents, leading to a complete reversal of the ratio of Voting Rights Act districts to non-Voting Rights Act districts at the state and federal level and increasing supervisorial Voting Rights Act districts by 135%. It also led to two (2) bills in the state legislature to establish Independent Redistricting Commissions for Fresno and Kern Counties.
Lori is also responsible for accountability programming that builds the capacity of grassroots leaders to strengthen vital democratic functions through Election Protection, anti-voter suppression, public meeting participation, and public safety consent decree monitoring. Lori is particularly concerned about the health of local information ecosystems and regularly attends professional development opportunities like social media monitoring and the University of Chicago’s “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference to ensure voters’ autonomy is respected and local elections are fair.
President- Fresno City College
Dr. Pimentel is the President at Fresno City College, where he focuses his efforts on improving the lives of students that come from the most marginalized communities. He is a valley native, with many ties to Urban and Rural Fresno. His work focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion and data informed campus improvements. Dr. Pimentel has been doing work in dual enrollment, early college/ middle college high schools, working with formerly incarcerated students, and working with men of color for almost 10 years now and understands the importance of this work on closing equity gaps for the valley.
Dr. Pimentel is a product of the community college system, he earned his Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from West Hills College Coalinga, a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Fresno State, a Master’s of Social Work from Bakersfield State, and a doctorate in higher educational leadership from Fresno State.
President/Co-Director, Central Valley Workers Center
A graduate of Cal State Fresno with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science minor in Agribusiness and a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration with a concentration in Urban Planning and Finance at Cal State Long Beach. Pedro is passionate about community involvement and dedicated to giving a voice to underrepresented communities. As an undocumented Immigrant, Pedro has worked with labor organizations, elected officials, and community groups to champion pro-immigrant policies such as the California Dream Act, immigration reform, and access to affordable quality education.
Prior to co-founding Valley Impact Strategies, Pedro held positions in labor, nonprofit, and served as a staff member to several elected leaders.
Currently, Pedro serves as President and Co-Director of the Central Valley Worker Center and a board member for the United We Lead Foundation, and Valley Voices all organizations focused on community organizing, labor rights, and immigrant rights.
Superintendent, McFarland Unified School District
Aaron Resendez is the Superintendent of the McFarland Unified School District, where he and his team work to ensure students have every opportunity to succeed in and out of the classroom.
A native of the Central San Joaquin Valley, Resendez grew his passion for education working in Northern Kern County. During his educational career, Resendez worked as a Special Education Teacher, School Site Administrator, Director of Special Education and Assistant Superintendent before being named MUSD Superintendent in May 2018.
McFarland Unified School District has outpaced the county in graduation rates during Resendez’s tenure. In addition, McFarland expanded its elementary music program, increased library funding at each school site and partnered with Bakersfield College to bring the Early College Program to students and families.
Staff Attorney, Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment
Daniel Ress, a graduate of the University of Colorado Law School, joined CRPE as a staff attorney during the summer of 2020. During law school, Dan interned for the Environmental Defense Fund in Boulder, Colorado, as part of EDF’s U.S. Clean Air team.
Through CU’s Environmental Law Clinic, Dan partnered with a non-profit and local high school students to generate a no-oil-and-gas-leasing alternative Resource Management Plan for federal land in Colorado. Working with CU’s Sustainable Community Development Clinic, Dan supported mobile home owners in their struggles with park owners. Then, working with these communities, Dan helped craft and pass legislation to protect park residents. Additionally, Dan testified in favor of a law facilitating legal name and gender changes in Colorado before taking advantage of the new law to obtain government identification that matches their non-binary gender.
Before law school, Dan graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in psychology. They were an educator for nine years, including as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, a special education teacher, and a Head Start center coordinator. Informed by their experiences with vulnerable communities, they embarked on a career in environmental law, through which they could address the threat of climate change in a way that keeps these communities centered.
In their spare time, Dan enjoys reading and writing fiction and poetry, playing and writing music, and exploring both outside in nature and internally through meditation and spiritual practice.
Norma Rojas Mora
Executive Director of Government Relations & Development , Bakersfield College
Norma Rojas-Mora is the Executive Director of Government Relations and Development for Bakersfield College. In this role, she collaborates with municipal, state, and federal agencies, educational institutions, and community service organizations to advance workforce development and educational initiatives for some of Kern County’s most underserved and disadvantaged populations.
Some of the initiatives that have been launched during her tenure include the Rural Health Equity and Learning (HEAL) Collaborative, an eight-county coalition dedicated to addressing healthcare needs in rural areas; the High Road Training Partnership, which is a coalition of labor organizations, research institutes, educators and non-profit groups dedicated to diversifying Kern’s economy, reducing carbon utilization, and providing high-wage jobs with benefits to all residents; as well as Project Hire Up, a program that facilitates pathways to housing and employment for Kern County’s unhoused population.
Norma Rojas-Mora is the past president of Latina Leaders of Kern County where she continues to dedicate her time strengthening the leadership development of youth and professional women through the Youth Leadership Program and the Latina Leadership Institute.
Norma-Rojas Mora has a Master of Science degree in Administration from California State University Bakersfield and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Chicana/Chicano Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She currently serves on the following boards: Local Workforce Development Board, Latina Leaders of Kern County, Bakersfield College Foundation, the Women’s and Girls Fund Advisory Committee, and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation.
Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Mote, Inc
As the co-founder and CTO of Mote Hydrogen, I am developing systems that take CO2 out of the air and make clean hydrogen from waste biomass. The strategy is a spinout of work that I did with my colleagues at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for our landmark report, "Getting to Neutral: Options for Negative Carbon Emissions in California" and related projects.
I previously ran the Carbon Capture program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and led projects at the intersection of advanced manufacturing and clean energy. My other past work covers climate policy, methane mitigation, commercial drones, direct air capture, and urban sustainability.
Wellbeing Executive at Adventist Health
“A majority of my life, I wanted to go into medicine, I wanted to be a doctor,” says Kiyoshi, who graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles with a degree in molecular biology and from Northwestern University with a master’s in journalism. “So actually, working for Adventist Health – although, certainly in a different capacity than a physician – is a good fit.”
Kiyoshi spent almost 12 years in the TV news business as an anchor and reporter at KGET-Ch. 17 (NBC) and a reporter at KERO-Ch. 23 (ABC) in Bakersfield, where he built connections for telling the many stories in Kern County.
Now, Kiyoshi’s job is to build different types of connections in Bakersfield and the Tehachapi Valley via strategic community partnerships that promote wellness and drive strategic initiatives with schools, non-profits, and other healthcare agencies.
“I’m excited to continue to partner with organizations in our community as we work together on making Bakersfield and the Tehachapi Valley healthier places to call home,” says Tomono, who first joined the Adventist Health family in May 2017.
Kiyoshi is an avid runner, hoping to add more marathon medals to his accomplishments. He and his wife, Cecilia – the director of Business Development for Adventist Health Bakersfield – are the parents of two sons: Joshua and Christian.
Partner/Co-Chair at Actum LLC;
State of California Infrastructure Advisor
Antonio Villaraigosa is a respected voice in American politics and a prominent policymaker with a keen understanding of America’s mainstream and emerging communities. Known for his exceptional skill at building broad bi-partisan coalitions, he draws support from the broad center of progressive Democratic and Republican voters.
Mr. Villaraigosa is currently a Partner and Co-Chair at Actum where he focuses on strategic and crisis communications advising c-suite executives in large public and private sector organizations.
In August 2022, Mr. Villaraigosa was appointed to be the Infrastructure Advisor to the State of California, working with local, state, and federal leaders to identify priority projects and maximize access to federal funding across all regions of the state.
In 2013 Mr. Villaraigosa finished his two terms as the 41st Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, after eight years of major strides in transportation, crime reduction, infrastructure, energy and resource sustainability, right-sizing government, business development and education reform.
Prior to his election as Mayor, Mr. Villaraigosa served as a member of the Los Angeles City Council from 2003 to 2005. From 1994 through 2000, Mr. Villaraigosa served in the California State Assembly as Democratic Whip, Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly. He was a member of President Obama’s Transition Economic Advisory Board, the 2012 Chairman of the Democratic National Convention and President of U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Mr. Villaraigosa also has served in academia, as a fellow at Harvard University and a professor in public policy at the University of Southern California. He was also a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he has served on the McGraw Hill Global Education Board of Directors, and currently serves as Board Chair of The Change Company.
He also serves on numerous non-profit Board of Directors including but not limited to UC Merced, AltaMed, and Peace Over Violence.
General Manager, Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage for Chevron
Alexei V. Vyssotski is a General Manager of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS), as part of Chevron New Energies. In this role, he is focused on deploying CCUS solutions to accelerate progress toward the lower carbon ambitions of Chevron and its customers. Alexei is often described as a “strategy translator” as he adeptly leads teams to convert aspirational goals into reality while working with complex technical, business, and geopolitical challenges.
Alexei has a keen interest in the environment and has a high regard for practical science that improves the quality of life. These interests were inspired by his childhood spent helping his family work the land and learning from his parents who are both geologists. This experience led him to study geology and environmental science where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Sam Houston State University and a Master’s degree in Geology from Rice University. Alexei has been fortunate to work in a variety of geologic basins while at Chevron where he led teams to recover hydrocarbon resources in North America and international locations.
Today, Alexei finds his role with Chevron New Energies to be a perfect intersection of the environment, practical science, and complexity as he works to help advance a lower carbon future.
CEO, California Forward
Dr. Weinberg is Chief Executive Officer of California Forward, a nonprofit organization that leads a movement to make the economy and government of California work for everyone in all of the state’s regions.
Prior to joining CA FWD, Dr. Weinberg was President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the leading think tank focused on the most critical economic and policy issues facing the Silicon Valley/San Francisco region, and was a Senior Research Fellow at New America. Dr. Weinberg’s writing has appeared in diverse outlets from the New York Times to Policy Studies Journal, and he has appeared on Fox News and NPR.
Dr. Weinberg’s work focuses on increasing the dynamism, resilience and inclusiveness of communities in California and throughout the nation and world. This requires all people to have access to the building blocks of the California Dream including economic growth, health and well-being, affordable transportation, housing and lifelong education, and a healthy environment.
He holds a doctoral degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with honors from Princeton University with a degree in Politics. He lives in lovely Oakland, California.
Director of Public Policy for Amazon
He also serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of the California High Speed Rail Authority, and previously was Governor Gavin Newsom’s first Legislative Affairs Secretary. His legislative experience includes servicing two California Senate Leaders: John Burton and Darrell Steinberg for whom he was Policy Director and Special Counsel. He has also been a legislative advocate for the Judicial Council of California and a Senior Executive and Chief Lobbyist for the State Bar of California.
In 2007, Anthony co-founded the Wada Williams Law Group, LLP, a Sacramento based law and lobbying firm. Anthony has represented clients in regulatory, civil, and criminal matters before federal and state courts and agencies. In 2014, he was appointed by Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown to serve on the California Fish and Game Commission. He is also founder and president of the Stand Strong Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to developing excellence in youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Anthony received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from U.C. Davis, a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a Juris Doctorate degree from McGeorge School of Law with distinction. He is an avid reader and high-handicap golfer who, above all, enjoys spending time with his wife and three school-aged children.
Climate Economist with Rhodium Group’s Energy & Climate
Emily analyzes the economic impact of climate change and policy responses, with an emphasis on the transportation sector. She also provides policy outreach and support to the Climate Impact Lab, focusing on the application of the social cost of carbon.
Prior to Rhodium, Emily served as the Chief Economist for the California Air Resources Board where she analyzed the economic impact of California’s portfolio of climate change and air quality policies and programs with a focus on carbon markets and transportation. Emily has a Ph. D. from the University of California Davis, and received her Bachelor’s degree from Penn State.