Kiyoshi Tomono is passionate about the well-being of Bakersfield and creating partnerships that lift up the community. Previously, Kiyoshi was the face of local TV news as an anchor and reporter at KGET-Ch. 17 (NBC) and as a reporter at KERO-CH. 23 (ABC) in Bakersfield, where he first built connections by telling the many stories in Kern County. Now, Kiyoshi’s work focuses on building different types of connections, aligning community resources and deploying the Blue Zones Project’s systematic approach to leverage the people, places and built environment to lift well-being outcomes.
Kiyoshi graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) with a degree in molecular biology and from Northwestern University with a Master’s degree in journalism.
He is an avid runner and hopes to add more marathon medals to his accomplishments. He and his wife, Cecilia – the multi-site administrative director of Business Development for Adventist Health Kern County – are the proud parents of two sons, Joshua and Christian.
My Power 9
I believe in the power of surrounding myself with a positive pack. There’s nothing better than collaborating and spending time with colleagues, friends, and family members who support each other and are committed to each other’s well-being.Return to Our Community
COMMUNITY PROGRAM MANAGER
Susan received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. Her purpose and passion have been to help children in communities thrive. This led to working for the Kern County Department of Child Support Services for the past 15 years in various roles, including case management, data analytics, human resources and program management.
Her time there is where she discovered her joy of leading and mentoring people and teams, which she has been doing so for the past 6 years. Susan is excited to be part of Blue Zones Project – Bakersfield because she gets to participate in bringing evidence-based concepts and practices for healthier outcomes to a community that she grew up in. She is eager to see opportunities for people in Bakersfield to have healthier choices that will prolong their lifespan so they can spend more time loving and living.
Susan’s purpose and passions outside of work are her husband, Joe, and their two daughters, Mia and Liana. They spend every opportunity creating memories and not wasting a minute. As a working mother, Susan personally understands the struggle when it comes to making healthier choices that benefit her well-being and that of her family. She is all in to bringing an initiative to her community that helps all to live longer, better!
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9 is loved ones first. I’m a first generation Laotian American and my parents deeply instilled the value of putting family first. Taking care of and giving back to our elders is very important. I commit to giving back to my parents daily for the sacrifices they made for my siblings and I growing up.Return to Our Community
PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCATE
Karina Funez is the Public Policy Advocate for Blue Zones Project – Bakersfield. Karina is responsible for collaborating with community partners and stakeholders to implement local policies that will improve the health of the Bakersfield community.
She grew up in East Bakersfield where the lack of access to healthier food options and the need of a much-improved built environment sparked her interest for advocating for local policies. She studied Public Health Policy at the University of California Irvine and then pursued her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Southern California. Karina has worked on local policy initiatives such as school wellness policies, Safe Routes to School, and local tobacco control policies during her time at Kern County Public Health Services Department.
Prior to joining Blue Zones Project – Bakersfield, she was the Senior Policy Manager at the American Lung Association, providing policy technical assistance to local cities and counties on their local tobacco control efforts. Karina is excited to be working in the community where she grew up in and is eager to see the changes that the Blue Zones Project will do for Bakersfield.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9 is Purpose because I love living my life with purpose and knowing that I am contributing to world around me with the skills and values that I hold.Return to Our Community
SR. MANAGER OF MARKETING AND ENGAGEMENT
From getting his start as a marketing intern for a Fortune 500 fashion brand, to being selected to join a research institute with a group of young professionals tasked with disrupting the credit union industry, to sitting as Public Information Officer for two hospitals as part of their Hospital Incident Command System during the pandemic, Gabe Ulloa has a wide variety of experience from digital marketing to crisis communications and community engagement. He plans on applying his experience and knowledge to lead the engagement and marketing efforts for the Blue Zones Project Bakersfield as its Sr. Manager of Marketing and Engagement.
Gabe is a Bakersfield native, graduating from East Bakersfield High School and then completing his B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Communications at CSU Bakersfield. He then went on to further his education with a Master of Science in Analytics (MSAn) from American University and then a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of Arizona Global Campus. It was during his studies for his MPH while working in a hospital during the pandemic that Gabe got to see and experience both health disparities and inequalities firsthand. This experience led him to join Blue Zones Project to help make a direct impact for the community he grew up in and the community he would raise his daughter.
During his free time, Gabe enjoys spending time with his daughter Evelyn and his wife Tina. As a family, they thrift and often visit estate sales and hunt for their next great vintage find. Gabe is a collector and player of vintage video games and enjoys the nostalgia that comes with retro gaming. When not digging for treasures, you may find the family camping in the mountains or on the central coast.
My Power 9
Downshift is my favorite Power 9. I tend to downshift in nature while we camp. Sometimes this is in the mountains in the snow, sometimes it’s morning coffee on the beach, but the result is the same, being able to disconnect and appreciate nature for all its beauty.Return to Our Community
SR. MARKETING SPECIALIST
Melissa Rossiter joined Blue Zones Project – Bakersfield as the team’s Senior Marketing Specialist. She is excited to use her skills in storytelling and public relations to share how this inspiring project will help transform the health and wellness of the community where she grew up.
With a career spanning 20+ years, Melissa has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor, TV news producer and in various marketing roles in Kern County. Melissa has a Bachelor of Art degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism from California State University, Bakersfield. She brings a unique blend of skills and experience, including media relations, graphic design, marketing/branding and event planning, to the team.
Prior to joining Blue Zones Project, Melissa worked at Kern County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services on its public information team, where she managed and supported the department’s marketing, engagement, and branding efforts. She also discovered a passion for advocating for mental health by overseeing the messaging and design efforts for awareness campaigns during Mental Health Awareness Month in May and National Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Month in September.
Melissa is married to her husband Devin and they have two children, Hollie and Patrick. In her downtime, she likes to squeeze in a yoga workout or walk, volunteer for Girls Scouts, read or binge watch true crime documentaries and General Hospital.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9 is Downshift. Between work and family activities, it’s so easy to just keep moving forward without a break. Downshifting allows me to reconnect with myself and loved ones and just take time to breathe.Return to Our Community
SR. MANAGER OF WORKSITE WELL-BEING
Diana Delgadillo is the Sr. Manager of Worksite Well-Being for Blue Zones Project® — Bakersfield. Most of her professional background has centered around account management in healthcare.
She earned a doctorate degree in Health Sciences from MCPHS University. In addition, she completed a fellowship program in community health and disease prevention from Stanford University. With a major interest being health and wellness, Diana looks forward to sharing her knowledge and expertise in affecting change within her Bakersfield community.
Outside of work, Diana loves to read, exercise, and spend time with her niece, Leila.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® principle has to be having a positive pack. I value having a group of individuals who have my best interest, who tell me when I’m wrong, and who share memorable experiences with me. A positive and reliable support system is imperative to my overall health and happiness.Return to Our Community
ORGANIZATION LEAD, RETAIL FOODS AND GROCERY
Vicheka Ek grew up around the appreciation of food; defined by their unique origins, flavor profiles, and story of their distinctive taste. She enjoys diving deep into every dish to discover its inspirations, which are amplified by the ingredients sourced from grocery stores to Kern County’s local farms. With this in mind, she is excited to embark upon a project that will encourage healthier food habits and contribute to life longevity within the Bakersfield community as the Blue Zones Project® – Organization Lead of Retail Foods and Grocery.
While working to receive her B.S. in Business Administration Marketing from California State University, Bakersfield, Vicheka was instrumental in the development of custom Electronic Health Records Software for healthcare providers in a wide variety of fields, allowing them to focus more on patient care and less on red tape. Since graduating from CSU Bakersfield, Vicheka has overseen the creation and development of a technical support center to assist the Central Valley’s essential workers in our hospitals and schools, during the pandemic. Then, moving onto corporate operations, helping to streamline workflows, strategically scale for growth and drive revenue. Throughout this journey, she credits the tight knit community of Bakersfield of mentors, teachers, family, colleagues, neighbors contributing to her reaching these milestones, as it truly takes a village. Vicheka’s core mission is to help others and give back to the city that has raised her, leading her to join the Blue Zones Project.
During her free time, Vicheka can be found indulging in her guilty pleasure of binge-watching Fast and the Furious movies, or on an equally adrenaline-inducing quest to discover good eats/events in Kern County and the Golden State. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Valley Achievement Center for Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities and is an active member of the Bakersfield Twilight Rotary Club. Additionally, she can be found volunteering her time to help nonprofit organizations such as Boys and Girls Club and CASA of Kern County.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® is Purpose or, as the Japanese call it, “ikigai,” which ‘is the intersection between what you love, what you’re good at, and what the world needs; it is the bliss of intention behind what you’re doing, and why you feel most alive.’Return to Our Community
ORGANIZATION LEAD, SCHOOLS
Jonathan Gallardo grew up in Arvin, California, raised by immigrant parents who have been farm laborers ever since moving to the United States from Mexico. Growing up and still living in Arvin, he has seen the lack of access to a healthier environment, specifically in the education system (not only in Arvin but also the surrounding communities). This motivated Jonathan to accept a position as the Blue Zones Project® – Bakersfield Organization Lead, Schools.
Since graduating from California State University, Bakersfield with a B.S. in Business Administration Marketing and minor in Communications, Jonathan has worked in various, predominately, sales roles. Working with Blue Zones Project will give him the opportunity to finally work with a purpose. Sales is fun, but there is no better feeling than selling life and helping people live longer, better lives! He is super excited to work with Bakersfield’s education system and bring changes to our community’s future leaders.
In April of 2023, Jonathan became engaged to his fiancé, Ashley, after six years of dating. If all goes well, they plan to have a destination wedding in March 2024 in San Miguel de Allende, GTO Mexico! San Miguel de Allende was recently rated the best small city in the world!
In his spare time, Jonathan loves watching the Dodgers and playing softball. He loves to build aquariums as a hobby and Purple Mosaic Guppies are his favorite fish.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® is “Know Your Purpose.” My purpose is waking up every morning and making a positive impact in our community!Return to Our Community
ORGANIZATION LEAD, WORKSITES
Linda Johnson-LeBlanc joined Blue Zones Project® – Bakersfield as the team’s Organization Lead for Worksites. She is thrilled to use her marketing, sales, and client service experience to contribute to the Blue Zones Project mission to empower everyone, everywhere to live longer, better.
Linda has a career spanning over 20 years and has held roles in marketing, market research, project management, client service, and business operations. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership from Cabrini University located in Radnor, PA and a Masters of Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing from LaSalle University located in Philadelphia, PA. She has developed a keen ability to build strong partnerships and deliver exemplary results.
Prior to joining Blue Zones Project, Linda worked for a Christian missionary society in the marketing and communications department where she created marketing strategies for the organization’s products and programs. She also served as a key contributor in cross-functional strategic planning regarding program, product and business initiatives, including operations, marketing and customer outreach.
Linda enjoys volunteer work, taking long scenic drives, walking the trails and relaxing to jazz music. She also loves spending time with her two grandchildren, Ariyah and Mikayla.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® Is “Love Ones First.” Between my children and my extended relatives, I am grounded in family. We have always been really close and they serve as my source of support and encouragement. Putting my loved ones first fills my heart with joy and keeps a smile on my face.Return to Our Community
Floricel Mondragón Arzate
Floricel Mondragón Arzate joined Blue Zones Project® – Bakersfield as the team’s Organization Coordinator. She approaches all aspects of her job with a positive, hard-working mindset, and is excited to be a part of the health and wellness transformation of the community.
Prior to joining Blue Zones Project, Floricel began her 15-year career with Kern County. She served in the fiscal team for the Public Works Department specializing in purchasing, accounts payable, internal audits, and other related functions. Most recently, Floricel was with the Kern County Department of Child Support Services as an Administrative Coordinator where she supported various teams including fiscal, payroll, and human resources.
Floricel is inspired daily by her partner and their family. Together they have five children ages 5-19. In her downtime, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and reading a good book.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® is “Loved Ones First.” Our strong family values ensure everyone in our family is cared for and loved by setting time aside for each other daily.Return to Our Community
VOLUNTEER PROGRAM & EVENTS SPECIALIST
Carrissa Runyan joined Blue Zones Project® – Bakersfield as the Volunteer Program & Events Specialist. She aims to inspire individuals to become active in the community.
Carrissa has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise science, as well as an associate degree in psychology. Having worked closely with individuals to improve their quality of life, she strives to do the same work in the community by uplifting and motivating those she meets.
Before her journey with Blue Zones Project, she was a personal trainer and an assistant general manager with In-Shape Health Clubs LLC. Her day included working with team members and clients to promote fitness and well-being, live healthier lives, and enjoy the process.
Carrissa is engaged and they together have a daughter named Avianna. In her downtime, she enjoys reading romance novels, reading poetry and spending quality time with her family.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® is “Loved Ones First.” I find that the business of life can sometimes interrupt quality time with loved ones. Therefore, I strive to create time with those I love.Return to Our Community
SR. ADMINISTRATIVE & FACILITIES SERVICES ASSISTANT
Oriana Quezada joined Blue Zones Project® – Bakersfield as the team’s Senior Administrative & Facilities Services Assistant. She brings her experience in the service and nonprofit sector to her current role where she is dedicated to educating and inspiring the Bakersfield community with health awareness towards chronic health conditions such as diabetes.
Her accomplishments include assisting in a fundraising event for Neighborhood Industries from preliminary event planning to the successful implementation – raising 50K in one night. Her administrative experience in the service sector brings creative solutions to the team. Oriana has a Bachelor of Art degree in Communication, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing from California State University, Fresno.
Outside of her career, Oriana loves to enjoy her time with family, on road trips, and with friends. She enjoys dancing, reading, sketching, and all things Disney.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® “Purpose.” I think being intentional and purposeful in our self-care and keeping in mind our “why” is what grounds us to a fulfilling life.Return to Our Community