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CSUB's new chief of staff comes from the Kern Community Foundation

Cal State Bakersfield President Lynnette Zelezny announced Monday that  Kristen Beall Watson, the president and CEO of the Kern Community Foundation, will be joining CSUB as Zelezny's chief of staff.

Watson is well known in Kern County for being at the forefront of the A Better Bakersfield and Boundless Kern (B3K) and the Kern Education Pledge initiatives. Zelezny said her experience in these areas will ensure CSUB is a great partner in these initiatives and she will also be a great asset for the university and its strategic plan.

"We're extremely excited about the level of expertise that she brings to the role," said Zelezny.

Watson said that education has always been key to the work of the Kern Community Foundation. She notes the foundation gave out about $3 million to 1,200 students over the last six years. The Kern Education Pledge grew out of the foundation's Kern Futures initiative. 

"Education is truly my passion," she said. "Improving educational outcomes for people in our community has always been something that we led with at Kern Community Foundation."

She added that education is instrumental to B3K, which brings together regional leaders with the goal of expanding economic opportunity and prosperity.

"At the heart of this inclusive development initiative is education," she said. "If we don’t have the skilled work pool or labor force to attract new businesses and industries, then none of it will happen."

Watson looks forward to assisting Zelezny in her vision of creating an institution that serves residents, transforms the community culture to one that really values postsecondary education and understands the accessibility of it.

Watson will join Zelezny's cabinet Aug. 2. Zelezny's outgoing chief of staff, Michael Lukens, will return to Fresno State, where he will serve as the executive director of government relations.

Coronavirus Cases widget

  • Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 158,270

  • Deaths: 1,828

  • Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 150,950 

  • Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 92.04

  • Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 92.62 Updated: 12/3/2021.

  • Source: Kern County Public Health Services Department