Bakersfield Faculty hosts the “Second Annual Jean Fuller Ladies In Management Panel” – The Renegade Rip

The second annual Jean Fuller Women In Leadership Panel was broadcast live on Bakersfield College’s YouTube channel on March 4th.

BC President Dr. Sonya Christian, said, “Since the 1980s Bakersfield College has participated in the nationwide effort to recognize the historic achievements of women with a month-long series of programs presented by local and regional women leaders.”

Panellists include Mary Barlow is the superintendent of schools in Kern County; Nicole Parra was a former California lawmaker, is involved in government affairs and is part of the Marathon Petroleum Corporation. Katie Russel is the Superintendent of the Panama-Buena Vista School District. Dr. Fuller is a senator emeritus who was the former superintendent of the Bakersfield City School District and was also asked to initiate the panel.

Dr. Fuller first asks the panelists about the story of how they came to their current positions. The women had a variety of experiences, but one thing they all had in common was persistence. Despite many obstacles to overcome, none of them let them stop them. In fact, they saw her as something that made them better. Barlow said her experience of poverty and having a parent with mental illness enabled her to “understand people from different backgrounds.”

Although they had different challenges, they all had to face the challenges associated with being women working in areas that are normally male dominated. Parra stated that she had to work extra hard because she didn’t fit into the roles that were expected of her. She said that as a “single woman with no children,” people automatically judged her and she had to persevere and work so much harder to win people’s trust as lawmakers.

Dr. Fuller continued the panel and asked them who some women in leadership positions were who they admire and who are role models for them. The women’s responses ranged from women they knew personally to women who were better known. Russel and Barlow both talk about women they knew personally, like teachers they had or former superintendents they worked with. Parra said that our Vice President, Kamala Harris, was a great inspiration to her because “Central Valley women need to see women who look like them in positions of power.”

On the last question, Dr. Fuller asked women some “words of wisdom” for other women in leadership positions. Katie Russel has a lot of advice for women working towards becoming superintendent. The biggest benefit was that “rejection doesn’t affect your trust”. She stated that she applied for seven superintendent positions in her field until she finally got the last one.

Barlow’s advice was to “adjust, show up, speak,” which means being and looking good, always being on time, and finding your voice and passion. She explained that by doing these three things, one is fully prepared for whatever he or she has to take on.

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