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
Yesenia Fernandez is the Policy Coordinator for Blue Zones Project – Bakersfield. She is excited to join the team and help the Bakersfield community make the Blue Zones pledge to become a healthier place to live.
Before joining the Blue Zones Project, Yesenia worked at Community Action Partnership of Kern for over five years as a WIC Nutrition Assistant and a Health Educator for the CalFresh Healthy Living program. During her time at WIC, she developed care plans for individuals according to the State WIC Branch and CAPK WIC program policies. She also presented group sessions on dietary and nutritional topics concerning women, infants, and children.
At the CalFresh Healthy Living Program, she provided eligible communities with healthy and active lifestyle resources by providing nutrition education and supporting policy, system, and environmental changes to improve access to healthy food and physical activity opportunities.
During her free time, Yesenia loves to spend time with her husband Jorge and their three daughters: Jazmin, Dianna, and Natalie. She spends most of her time at gymnastics practice with the girls but always finds time to bake some goods and cook delicious food!
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® is “Loved Ones First.” I believe that spending time with family Is so valuable. It’s important to put the phone down, get together, and create some fun, meaningful memories. Putting, “Loved Ones First” Is what keeps our family healthy and connectedReturn 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
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
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 Mondragon 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
SR. MANAGER OF MARKETING
Born, raised and educated in Bakersfield, CA, Alyse has spent her career seeking long-term solutions to community issues. First through improving high school graduation rates and college access, then through the building up of our nonprofit community, community benefit has always been center stage. After taking several years to support and learn from communities nationally and internationally, Alyse has refocused her efforts on the city that means so much to her. As a wife and mother of two, Alyse feels the impact of her work on her own family.
My Power 9
My favorite Power 9® is Purpose. In a time where there are so many pulls on my time and attention, knowing and holding onto my purpose helps me stay focused and centered, knowing that I matter.Return to Our Community
Shannon joins the Blue Zones Project Bakersfield team as its Engagement Lead. Shannon is eager to help individuals find ways to implement the core concepts of moving naturally, having the right outlook, eating wisely and connecting with their community.
Her interest in other cultures and desire to help people in need led her to earn a Bachelor’s of Biblical Literature and Intercultural Studies from Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO. She has traveled to 13 countries, including two trips to Vietnam where she taught English to middle school students in a summer camp program.
In her 10+ year career in marketing and communications, Shannon has used her skills in communications, marketing, public speaking and data analysis in a variety of industries that enhance the culture and overall environment of our community, including social services organizations, art institutions and land development.
Prior to joining Blue Zones Project Bakersfield, Shannon worked as a Marketing and Communications Associate for the Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault (now called The Open Door Network).
Shannon enjoyed picnics and walks in beautiful flower gardens, traveling, playing video games, painting and drawing (pastels and watercolors are her favorite mediums), and spending time with her friends and family, especially her husband and three young sons.
My Power 9
Shannon’s favorite Power 9® is Purpose. “Waking up with Purpose has not only helped my overall outlook, but it has also helped bring more joy into my daily life and interactions with others.
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
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