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ANNA SMITH: Jon Sampson, the renaissance man in our midst

Columnist Anna Smith

Columnist Anna Smith

It’s fitting that Jon and Jennifer Sampson — a powerhouse couple — met in graduate school at a powerhouse in its own right, The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The duo’s energy is infectious. They are passionate and engaged members of the Bakersfield community, and we’re lucky that they landed here.

Jon, a financial adviser, recently announced his team’s decision to move to Wells Fargo Advisors*. But he’s more than a typical finance professional. He’s also an accomplished actor (he played a part in the Revolutionary Road film with Kate Winslet), technology whiz, science nerd, and he possesses the ability to turn on the best booming, virile Charleton Heston-esque voice I’ve ever witnessed.

If I had to describe Jon briefly, it wouldn’t be hard. He’s a modern-day renaissance man. His interests (they should be described as talents) are deep and varied. He’s really good at a lot of things.

As Jon describes himself, “I have always been curious about absolutely everything. I see value in knowledge, research and experimentation. I love finding new ways to solve problems.”

Jon shared with me a bit about himself, including his dream car and full-of-life five-year-old daughter, Lillian. Read on, if you’d like.

I hear your wife is pretty awesome. Tell me a little bit about her!

Jennifer and I have been together for more than 13 years. If you’ve seen her shows at the Bakersfield Museum of Art or Rabobank, you know she’s an incredible talent. She’s also one of the hardest working people I know. She just got a play published and is preparing to direct HAMLET in November at BMoA using two Equity actors. She’s devoted to culture in this town, and she even wrangles me into acting every now and then.

Also, your daughter is just darling. What’s your favorite thing about being a dad?

There are so many things that I enjoy about being a dad, but the moment I look forward to the most is coming home and hearing her little voice. It’s usually loud and demanding of my immediate and constant attention, but that “Dad! Dad! DAD!” at the end of the day, makes my heart soar the most. Putting her to bed and reading to her is something I treasure, too.

How would you describe your job?

I work as part of a team at Wells Fargo Advisors that helps families and businesses plan for and navigate their financial present and future. We begin by creating an investment plan that helps our clients articulate and quantify their personal and business goals. Another important component is the management of their investments with a goal of balancing the return they need to achieve their financial objectives with the amount of risk they’re comfortable with.

How did you get into financial advising?

My parents, Gary and Nancy Sampson, have dedicated nearly 35 years to managing their financial advisory practice, and I grew up running around their firm. Discussions of the economy, politics, the market, and strategies for financial security were always a part of my life. Following in their respective footsteps was second nature to me.

Why did you recently make the move to Wells Fargo Advisors?

I worked as part of a team at my previous firm, so our decision to move to Wells Fargo Advisors was a culmination of intensive research, due diligence and exploration over more than a year timeframe. We share the same core values and are committed to putting our clients at the center of everything we do. The firm provides an outstanding platform to serve our current and future clients.

What brought you and your family back to Bakersfield? Do you enjoy it here (be honest)?

Jennifer and I were living in New York City, doing the acting/teaching thing and it was going well. I had great agents and booked several jobs in a short amount of time, and Jennifer worked consistently teaching and directing and loved strolling The Met and Central Park yet ultimately, it just didn’t feel like “home.”

As much as we wanted to love it and live there forever, we missed California and knew that we wanted to be close to family if we were going to ever start our own. Bakersfield is changing so much and, I believe, for the better. There’s a group of like-minded people who are working tirelessly to make this town vibrant culturally, aesthetically as well as economically. It’s wonderful to raise our daughter here during this time of renewed energy. Jennifer and I feel so at home here, and we’re grateful for wonderful neighbors and friends.

Explain your community involvements.

I am a member of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, which focuses on needs in our community and around the world. I’ve met some incredible people through this organization. In addition, my family and I attend Wellspring Free Methodist Church, which is devoted to affecting positive change in our community. I’ve been volunteering my time and computer “expertise” to the Bakersfield Museum of Art for more than a decade now and love the cultural richness it brings to our community. I’m a board member of the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science, a local treasure trove of fun and engaging science educational programs and activities. I also serve on the board of Stewards, which works with vulnerable individuals by advocating for homelessness prevention through connection to social services, resources, and acting as an appointed representative payee service. Additionally, Jennifer and I are members of and involved in different ways with Youth for Christ of Kern County, Kern Dance Alliance, the Kern County Museum, and the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra.

What drew you to acting?

I was originally a double major in finance and computer science at Cal State University Bakersfield but my attention slowly got diverted by a few acting roles that were really fun and challenging. One role led to another and before you know it, I was hooked. As you can imagine, this was a shock to my parents, but my time as a student and professional actor led to a greater awareness of myself and others, stronger communication skills, and an overall education in history, art, science - you name it. An actor has to be well versed in a variety of subjects and able to approach various characters with compassion.

And just for fun…

What is your greatest extravagance?

I’m a tech guy at heart so new technology captivates my attention. I’d love a Tesla if someone would like to give me one.

What is your most treasured possession?

That’s a tough one. My wife loves a good “clear out”, while I tend to hold on to things for too long. Perhaps my memorabilia from my travels to India and Sri-Lanka. That trip was life changing in so many ways.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Black.

One word to describe your current state of mind?

Focused. Moving my team to Wells Fargo Advisors has taken an extreme amount of focus.

What is your motto?

Have courage and be kind.

Thanks so much, Jon. Your passionate approach to career and community is inspiring.

*Note: Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member, SIPC.


Standalone Nuggets:

Jake’s Tex Mex has become my go-to easy local food spot. I love the fancier “cafeteria-style” vibe, and the quality is always consistently top-notch. (Lately, I’ve found that the family style dinners are perfect for dropping off at friends’ houses after they’ve had a baby.) My favorite menu items: the jalapeno cornbread, no-meat chili beans and parmesan potatoes.

Uber Eats takes off: I spoke with Nick Panici, Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar manager, about the popularity of food delivery service, Uber Eats, which recently came to town. He said it’s been great for business at the restaurant. (I’ve used the service already more times than I care to admit. It’s so convenient, especially for downtowners. There are plenty of local restaurants that deliver within 30 minutes. And the fee is always reasonable.)

Belly up with a sheepherder at the bar at Noriega Hotel on April 6th to begin the fourth annual Basque Crawl. Help the Kern California Women for Ag Chapter raise money for local ag student scholarships. The event sells out every year, so get your tickets early.

New view: I attended a great fundraiser for our local Ronald McDonald House at the Art House, 1911 F Street. It was a cozy venue, and the rooftop terrace offered a beautiful view east toward downtown, a new perspective I’d never seen.

Grow kale, eat kale, plant sale!: I’ve mentioned it before, but the time has come for the Edible Schoolyard Kern County Plant Sale. The sale is Saturday, April 7th from 8:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard, and the early bird gets the best seedlings. I’ll be there supporting the local edible education movement.

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  • Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 158,009

  • Deaths: 1,814

  • Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 150,579 

  • Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 92.04

  • Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 92.61