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 Thursday, April 28, 2022 to see what it’s all about! 

2021-2022 Conference Team

Kristi Culligan, 2022 BWBC Chair

Aera Energy

Natesha "T" Johnson, 2022 BWBC Vice Chair

Upside Productions

Executive Board Members

Susan Spears

Kern County Superintendent of Schools

R.O.S.E Mentor Program Coordinator

Norma Rojas-Mora

Bakersfield College

Power Pitch Coordinator

Staci Martinez

California Resources Corporation

Workshops Committee Leader

Colleen Bauer

Fairy Godmother Wedding & Event Planning

Deanna Blaise

Valley Strong Credit Union


Kathryn Mears

University of LaVerne

Exhibitor Committee Leader

Jessica Neeley

Dignity Health

Keynote Committee Leader

Janelle Capra

Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County

Marketing Coordinator

Amy Thelen

Bitwise Industries

Workshops Committee Leader

Advisory Board Members

Marelle Williams

2021 BWBC Chair

Christina Springstead

2016 BWBC Chair

Springstead Solutions

Norma Rojas-Mora

2019 BWBC Chair

Bakersfield College

Deanna Blaise

2013 BWBC Chair

Valley Strong Credit Union

Colleen Bauer

2009 BWBC Chair

Fairy Godmother Wedding & Event Planning

Dayna Nichols

2004 BWBC Chair

LaMeka Ross

2012 BWBC Chair

Aera Energy