2019 Opening Keynote, Raji Brar

Born and raised in the Central Valley, Brar is a first generation Indian-American.  Her parents immigrated to the United States from Punjab, India.  She was born in Fresno, California and her parents started their life in the States working in the fields as farmworkers. Her family eventually made the move to Bakersfield, where she went to Junior High, High School and College. She attended West High and was involved in various different clubs and elected as Student Body Secretary during her Junior and Senior years. She went on to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Masters of Science in Health Care Administration from CSU Bakersfield. After College, she worked as a Chemist for BC Laboratories and as an Executive Assistant for Steve Schilling at Clinica Sierra Vista.

Today, along with her family, she owns Countryside Corporation, which has a Construction & Real Estate Development Division and operates various different franchises (Subway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Brookside, Countryside Markets, and Shell Gas Stations).  They employ over 400 people throughout Kern and Tulare Counties and have been in business for over 25 years. In the past Brar has had the privilege of being the first Sikh Women ever elected to a City Council Seat in the State of California.  In 2007, she was elected to the Arvin City Council. Due to this historic achievement she was named “Women of the Year” by the California State Senate.  She was also elected and served on the Governing Board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and was the Vice- Chair of the Arvin Redevelopment Agency and Secretary of the Arvin Chamber of Commerce.

Brar is a two time Gubernatorial Appointee.  In January of 2015, she was appointed by Governor Brown as a Director to the Kern County Fair Board and in December of 2016 she was appointed by Governor Brown and confirmed by the California State Senate to serve on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. In June 2018, she was appointed by the Kern County Board of Supervisors to the Kern Medical Governing Board.  Currently she serves on various different educational boards; CSUB Foundation Board, CSUB BPA’s Executive Advisory Council and Rio Bravo Greeley’s Educational Foundation Board, her children’s school.  Brar also serves on Subway’s Marketing Board and on the Advisory Board for Kern Venture Group, which is an Angel Investment Fund and on the Board of FIELD (Farmworker Institute for Education and Leadership Development).    In the past, Brar has served on the CSUB Alumni Association Board, Girl Scouts of Central California South Board and Kern Health System’s Board. She has also had the honor of being chosen by Bakersfield Life Magazine’s “20 under 40” People to Watch and received the Girl Scouts “Women Inspiring Girls Award.” She also has had the honor of being nominated as Business Person of the Year for the 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Awards and was the 2019 Business Women of the Year for the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Of all the boards she serves on the one dearest to her heart is the Bakersfield Sikh Women’s Association, which she cofounded. The Sikh Women’s Association gives out needs based scholarships to deserving students throughout Kern County. The mission of the foundation is to give back to the community by working with the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter, local High Schools, local Hospitals on Cancer Prevention Programs (Kaur Care) and mentoring young girls. Since its inception in March of 2015, the Women’s Association has given out over $100,000 in scholarships. Brar is constantly thinking of ways to grow and develop her family businesses.  She stays active in community endeavors and she is committed to being of service to her community.  She is happily married to her college sweetheart and husband of over 18 years, and they have two wonderful boys ages 14, 10 and a beautiful 11 year old daughter!