Young people are flocking to Kern County. Whether it be ample job opportunity, quality of life, or proximity to statewide amenities, this region of the Central Valley has become a hotspot for young professionals, ranking fifth in the nation for millennial attraction by the National Association of Realtors. This is reflected in Kern County’s robust workforce of nearly 8,000 employees, of more than half of which, are under 40-years-old.
Kern County Chairman of the Board, Phillip Peters, 33, was born and raised in Kern County. He began his career in the local oil and agriculture industries before becoming a public servant. He notes his favorite aspect of working in this community is the tenacity of those who call Kern County home.
“Of all the things I enjoy about living here, it’s the people here I love the most. Everyone is incredibly generous and hardworking. As a big oil and ag community, these attributes are second nature to Kern County. I have worked in both these industries and felt that someone with hands on experience and a unique perspective could affect positive, meaningful changes that would benefit all of us.”
That’s the same approach newly appointed Director of Kern County Public Health, Brynn Carrigan, 37, takes every day as she fearlessly leads her community through a global pandemic.
“On paper, our mission is to protect and safeguard the health and safety of our community, which really does summarize what we do, but doesn’t quite explain what we do. We have regulatory roles and we have educational roles, both of which are equally important. It is our duty to constantly evaluate health indicators and try to influence changes that can help our residents lead healthier lifestyles and truly have a better overall quality of life,” Carrigan said.
Also born and raised in Kern County, she is deeply motivated to leave her community better, and healthier, than she found it.
Kern County provides a competitive job market with abundant room for growth in both the public and private sectors, ranking fifth in the nation for upward mobility and startups, and third in the nation for most diversified economy and human capital availability, according to Richard Chapman, president and CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation.
These factors, among others, have contributed to the draw of Kern County for millennial leaders, such as Deputy District Attorney, Brandon Stallings, 38.
“In December of this year, I’ll have been a Deputy District Attorney for 12 years. I’m currently in the Family Violence Unit and prosecute domestic violence cases and sexual assaults. If I’m not in trial, I’m talking to victims and offering services so the victims can receive the help they need. The behind-the-scenes work is voluminous and is designed to ensure victim’s rights are advocated for and defendants receive a fair trial. Every day looks different and I never know what a day may bring forth which is the best, and sometimes not so fun part of the job. Being a prosecutor is incredibly fulfilling and I’m so grateful to be in a position to help protect the public on a daily basis,” Stallings said.
While Stallings’ career is at the forefront of his life, he also stresses the importance of loving where you live.
“I think people naturally look for a place where they not only reside, but truly live by investing their passions in a way where they can see the fruits of their labors. I want to help other young professionals feel like their work matters and that they should make Kern their forever home.”
Amanda Ruiz, 33, is a senior fiscal policy analyst with the Kern County Administrative Office. She’s combined her passions with her career to shape the future of Kern County’s quality of life, tackling complex issues with thoughtfulness and consideration of community input.
“It is a privilege to be a leader in Kern County and I enjoy improving the place where I was raised and where I am now raising my children. My goals are to improve housing and reduce homelessness here in Kern County. I would love to improve more county parks because of the economic and health benefits but also because you can see how much a neighborhood park means to the surrounding community,” she said.
Bettering the community is a driving force for all Kern County leaders, including our newly appointed Kern County Fire Chief, Aaron Duncan, 39.
“I have been fortunate to have spent many years learning from highly capable mentors. Over the years I witnessed them accomplish great things. One thing was often not on their side though, time. I now find myself where others stood before me, but I have time on my side. Having experience with youth will allow me to continue pushing tirelessly for the greater good of the Kern County Fire Department and for our community. Being a young leader in our community provides me with a great opportunity, the opportunity to take on the challenges requiring long term commitment,” said Duncan.
From public safety to the Board Chambers, Kern County is filled young leaders eager to invest in the richness of this community, a vibrant place nestled in the heart of California, grounded in opportunity, and boundless in growth for generations to come.