The CSUB Alumni Association will welcome four outstanding graduates to the Alumni Hall of Fame for their advocacy on behalf of crime victims, dedication to the law, soaring musical gifts and commitment to the healthcare of vulnerable families.
This year’s inductees are Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, U.S. Federal District Judge Jennifer Thurston, Bakersfield College associate professor of music Kris Tiner and Kern Family Health Chief Executive Officer Emily Duran.
“The selection committee had their work cut out for them this year, and we are thrilled to recognize these four incredibly accomplished alumni,” said Director of Alumni Engagement Sarah Hendrick. “Leaders in music and the arts, healthcare, and justice, Cynthia, Emily, Jennifer and Kris have dedicated their lives to their crafts, inspired many and positively impacted thousands of lives. We are grateful to call them members of the CSUB alumni family, some of the best and brightest to come from our great institution.”
A campus committee of CSUB alumni, faculty and staff selected the four inductees, who will join the university’s 68 previous Alumni Hall of Fame members at an event in March 2023 on the CSUB campus.
The 2023 CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame class:
Occupation: Kern County District Attorney
CSUB Degree: B.A. in political science, 1981
Zimmer was first hired as a prosecutor for the Kern County District Attorney’s Office in 1984, when she became a deputy district attorney and, in 2018, was elected to her current position as Kern County’s district attorney.
Born in Coalinga, Zimmer first came to Kern County in 1979 to attend CSUB. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she went on to earn a juris doctorate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles before returning to Kern County to work in the District Attorney’s Office.
In addition to her work as district attorney, Zimmer has been actively involved in education. She has served as an adjunct professor at two community colleges and introduced Project LEAD in Bakersfield and Kern County, a program through which prosecutors volunteer their time to teach fifth-grade students about responsibility and good citizenship in the context of learning about criminal justice.
Zimmer helps foster the next generation of attorneys in Kern County with her involvement in CSUB’s Court Observer Program, where she meets with student participants each spring to discuss the role of a prosecutor in criminal proceedings and by hosting student interns at the District Attorney’s Office each semester through the Legal Information & Support Clinic.
Additionally, Zimmer has provided internship and career opportunities for local graduates of the Kern County College of Law, a local law school that helps ensure Kern County can develop legal expertise among those already committed to our communities.
Zimmer is active in the community and has served on the boards of the Bakersfield Safe Streets Partnership, Bakersfield Police Activities League, Family Justice Center and other organizations.
Occupation: U.S. District Judge — Eastern District of California
CSUB Degree: B.S. in business administration: marketing, 1989
Thurston serves as a U.S. federal district court judge for the Eastern District of California after being appointed by President Joe Biden last year. In her position, she manages more than 1,000 cases made up of felony criminal and civil actions.
Thurston started her career as an attorney in the County Counsel’s Office from 1997 to 2009. She then served in Bakersfield as a magistrate judge for the Eastern District, during which she presided over pre-trial and non-felony criminal matters, as well as civil cases.
In addition to her work as a judge, Thurston has mentored students in CSUB’s Pre-Law Program and is a regular panelist and guest speaker for the program’s events. She speaks every year in Dr. Jeanine Kraybill’s course on judicial power and the Constitution.
Thurston is deeply involved in local schools, serving as a judge and coach for the Kern High School District’s mock trial competition and organizing the Open Doors to Federal Courts program, which introduces high school and college students to careers in the federal court system and in federal law enforcement.
Thurston’s leadership has been recognized through numerous awards and honors, including the Kern County Bar’s Service Award, a certificate of service from the Kern County Superior Court and a certificate of appreciation from the State Bar of California.
Occupation: Associate professor of music, director of jazz studies at Bakersfield College
CSUB Degree: B.A. in music: trumpet performance, 2001
Tiner is an internationally recognized trumpet player, composer and educator who has been active in the West Coast jazz and creative music scene for more than 20 years. He has produced more than 80 recordings of original music, and had contributed to radio, film and television projects.
Tiner has taught music at CSUB, Bakersfield College and the California Institute of the Arts, becoming a full-time professor of music and the director of jazz studies at BC. During his time at the college, Tiner has coordinated the annual Kern County Music Educators’ Association Jazz Day, as well as the annual Panorama Creative Music Summit, which brings world-class musicians to campus to collaborate with students.
In addition to his education work, Tiner has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe with groups such as the Empty Cage Quartet, Tin/Bag and the Industrial Jazz Group. He also is a member of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra and serves on the board of the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop. He is the founder of Epigraph Records, an independent label dedicated to the documentation of new creative music recorded in Bakersfield.
Tiner has been recognized with the Kern County Music Educators’ Association Jazz Educator of the Year award, the American Society of Composers and Publishers Award for Writers, as well as grants from Chamber Music America and the American Composers Forum.
Occupation: CEO of Kern Family Health Care
CSUB Degrees: B.A. 2003, master’s in health care management, 2006
Duran has over 25 years of experience in healthcare and social support services. She has served as CEO of Kern Family Health Care since July and, prior to that, she worked for 10 years at Kern Health Systems as a director of provider relations and then as chief network administration officer.
A Delano native and daughter of immigrant farmworkers, Duran has a passion for grassroots community education and advocacy for vulnerable populations. She started her career in 1998 as a case manager for Bakersfield’s Ebony Counseling Center, during which she provided mentoring and other services to high-risk youth at local middle schools to help foster their educational goals.
In addition to her work, Duran has served on various boards and committees for organizations including the Bakersfield City School District, United Way of Kern County, First 5 Kern and the Legacy Circle Mercy Foundation.
She also recently received a Latinas Leading the Way award from the Latina Leaders of Kern County. Duran was the recipient of the Outstanding MSA Student Award in CSUB’s healthcare management program while earning her master’s.
Joseph Luiz is a CSUB writer and marketing and communications specialist.