Professional development conference discusses early childhood literacy, education, homelessness, and hunger

Paige Atkison, Reporter

Dozens of activists, community organizers, and professionals attended a professional development conference at the Doubletree Inn on Wednesday, April 4. The 28 Annual Professional Development Conference for Nonprofits was held by the United Way of Kern County, a local nonprofit organization that focuses on early childhood literacy, education, homelessness, and hunger.

The conference featured two keynote addresses and 10 workshops on several topics, including working with general and Spanish media, lack of activity in the workplace, and planning a professional event on a budget.

The first keynote speaker, Nancy Berlin, Director of Policy at the California Nonprofit Association, spoke about the importance of cooperation between nonprofit organizations. In her speech, “Nonprofits Standing Together,” Berlin encouraged nonprofits to engage with and support one another.

The second keynote speaker, Jan Masaoka, CEO of Cal Nonprofits discussed the state of the Kern County sector and the upcoming challenges it faces. Masaoka also hosted a small town hall discussion with Berlin in which they discussed the public policy matters that California nonprofits are facing. Masaoka and Berlin also touched on Sacramento bills and ballot measures that may affect Kern County nonprofits.

The event’s lunchtime panel, “Civic Engagement and Collaboration—What Makes It Happen, What Mucks It Up,” moderated by former Bakersfield Californian columnist Lois Henry featured a discussion on the attitudes of Kern residents towards involvement in local government. The panelists David Womack, Executive Director of Kern County’s Kaiser health plans and hospitals, Jose Gurrola, Mayor of Arvin, and Birdiana Bishop, assistant planner for the city of Wasco engaged in a well-rounded discussion about the needs of Kern County residents.

The conference came just days before Della Hodson, the Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Kern County announced that she will be leaving her position in Kern County and accepting a position at the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.