About the organization: The mission of the Kern County Farm Bureau is to represent Kern County’s agricultural interest through public relations, education, public policy and advocacy in order to promote the economic viability of agriculture balanced with appropriate management of natural resources.
What I do: Represent more than 1,200 KCFB members.
Where I grew up: Shafter.
How I landed in Kern County: Born and raised in Shafter, I moved to New York City for 11 years, worked at McKinsey & Company for five years and, the following six years, became a stay-at-home mother to two children (the hardest job on earth). I returned to Shafter with my little family of four to raise our children in God’s country.
Education: Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Family: My husband, Brandon, is an Ivy League graduate from the East Coast state of Georgia. We have two children, Sophia (9) and Xavier (6), who are thriving in Kern County. Sophia is an excellent pianist and runner and Xavier is the Kern County champion for his weight class (45 pounds) in wrestling.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it? My very first job was working for Assemblywoman Nicole Parra in her district office. I was one of two “token” Republicans on her large staff and enjoyed the title. Being that I represented her in Kern County, I found the assembly member to be open-minded and willing to work on issues to meet in the middle. This position taught me that most difficult situations can be solved with open and honest dialogue.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career? My 9-year-old daughter Sophia has been the biggest influence on my career; she constantly challenges my way of thinking. My goal is to show Sophia the importance of consistent hard work through example. Seeing the world through the eyes of a smart young lady like Sophia is motivation enough to want to protect California’s agricultural bounty for her children to witness and partake.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received? “If at first you don’t succeed, fix your ponytail and try again.” My good friend Donna Carpenter repeatedly told me this after I felt the defeat from a bad piece of legislation. So much effort goes into fighting policies and regulations that hinder our agricultural industry. It’s discouraging, to say the least, to watch policies take local food production out of business, but I’ll keep pushing forward.
What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part is to talk about water issues with farmers from different regions of the state. Everyone who is a farmer and has a passion for their trade, but depending on where you farm in the state, there are often conflicting solutions to the water crisis.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? I love hearing back from Kern County growers about their legislative concerns. Farmers are a great group of professionals who are humble and hard working, but they don’t like to write letters to their elected officials. They rely on the Farm Bureau for that and it’s a struggle for them to take the time to do it themselves.
What is the most memorable accomplishment of your career? Being the first female and the first Latina to hold this position as executive director in the 100 years of the Kern County Farm Bureau is dear to my heart. But besides the two “firsts” titles, I feel incredibly vested in Kern County farming because my parents are small farmers and the hardest workers out there.