About Us

Bakersfield Women's Business Conference

Our Story

The vision for the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference originated during the International Year Of The Woman. Phyllis Hullett, then Director of Student Services at Bakersfield College, gathered a group of community-minded women from industry, government, education and service-oriented areas on March 28, 1989. The goal was to discuss the feasibility of producing a business conference geared toward the needs of women. Out of this meeting, twelve women and one lone man, Pat Shaffer, Dean of Development at Bakersfield College, agreed to serve on the executive board. Options Unlimited, The Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference was born.

Phyllis Hullett and Cynthia Icardo, then President of Junior League of Bakersfield, jointly chaired the first event. The initial conference was scheduled April 18, 1990, at the Red Lion Inn, and featured Georgette Mosbacher, owner and CEO of La Prairie Cosmetics, as the first keynote speaker. There were twenty-one breakout seminars geared toward re-entry to the workplace, small business, career advancement and general interest. The committee hoped for five hundred guests and was overwhelmed with 729 attendees the first year. In 1991, the conference site was moved to the Bakersfield Convention Center to handle the average gathering of 1,400 attendees.

The goals of the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference remain the same today as when the conference began three decades ago: to provide information, skills development , and encouragement for women at a crossroads; seeking higher education; first time employment; making a career change or looking to advance their careers. Over the years, however, the conference has evolved according to attendees’ needs.

In 1993 , a Career Development Center was added to give women the opportunity to receive personal job skills assessment and evaluate resumes. In 1994, Dr. Bobbie George created the idea of the R.O.S.E. Mentoring Program. R.O.S.E. is an acronym for Realizing Options for Student Excellence. Approximately 75 high school students have the opportunity to shadow an adult mentor beyond the conference. In 2001, Options joined with the California Elected Women’s Association for Education and Research (CEWAER) and created the First Women of Kern Project to identify and recognize female firsts in Kern County’s history.

Every aspect of our conference is designed to encourage, educate, and empower women in our community. Join us on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 to see what it’s all about! 

2023-2024 Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference Board

Deanna Blaise, 2024 BWBC Chair

Valley Strong Credit Union

BWBC Chair 2013

Angel Cottrell, 2024 Vice Chair

Apollo Consultancy Group Inc.

KHSD Entrepreneurship Resource Centers

Workshops Committee 

NaTesha 'T' Johnson

Upside Productions

Historian & Power Pitch Committee

2023 BWBC Chair

Bianka Pantoja

Kern High School Resource Centers

Secretary & Exhibitor Committee

Christina Springstead

Springstead Solutions

Treasurer & Registration Committee

2016 BWBC Chair

Janelle Capra

Greater Bakersfield Chamber

Marketing Committee

Ashley Davis

Aera Energy

Facilities Committee

Norma Dunn

Kern Women’s Business Center

Exhibitors & Workshops Committee

Amy Thelen

Exhibitors & Sponsorship Committee

Marelle Williams

Logistics & Sponsorship Committee

2021 BWBC Chair


Trista Carter

California Forward

R.O.S.E Mentor Program Committee


Susan Spears

Kern County Superintendent of Schools

R.O.S.E Mentor Program Committee

Norma Rojas-Mora

Bakersfield College

Power Pitch Committee

2019 BWBC Chair

Danielle Patterson

SeedCore Foundation

Power Pitch Committee

Staci Martinez

California Resources Corporation

Workshops Committee

Jessica Neeley

Dignity Health

Keynote Speaker Committee

Kathryn Mears

University of LaVerne

Keynote Speaker Committee

2014 BWBC Chair

Colleen Bauer

Fairy Godmother Wedding & Event Planning

Keynote Speaker Committee

2009 BWBC Chair

Lizette Patterson

Cazador Consulting Group, Inc.

Volunteer Committee

LaMeka Ross

Aera Energy

Facilities Committee

Advisory Board Member | 2012 BWBC Chair

Dayna Nichols

 Advisory Board Member | 2004 BWBC Chair