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Aera in the Community Aug 12, 2021

Uniting for collaboration

The United Way of Kern County’s annual Community Professional Development Conference brings community together to discuss rebuilding after the pandemic.

More than 200 people attended the United Way of Kern County’s 30th annual Community Professional Development Conference on July 20.

More than 200 people attended the United Way of Kern County’s 30th annual Community Professional Development Conference on July 20.

The United Way of Kern County has had a long history of supporting local nonprofit organizations through its annual professional development conference. In July, the United Way welcomed all local businesses to take part in its 30th annual Community Professional Development Conference, marking a first in the event’s history.

“So many of our nonprofits and local businesses are working to bounce back after what has been a very challenging year,” said Sydney Cullen, marketing and campaign assistant for the United Way of Kern County. “There is so much rebuilding to do. We’re all connected, and part of a cohesive community. We know we all need to come together from all sectors to collaborate in order to be successful.”

The event themed “United We Win” brought more than 200 attendees, exhibitors and presenters to the Bakersfield Marriott Hotel – nearly doubling the number of attendees from previous years. 

Bakersfield city councilman Andrae Gonzales, (left) Jamie Swetalla, (center) public affairs coordinator for Aera Energy, and Bakersfield city councilman Eric Arias, take part in a “Rebuilding post COVID-19” panel discussion at the 30th annual Community Professional Development Conference.

Bakersfield city councilman Andrae Gonzales, (left) Jamie Swetalla, (center) public affairs coordinator for Aera Energy, and Bakersfield city councilman Eric Arias, take part in a “Rebuilding post COVID-19” panel discussion at the 30th annual Community Professional Development Conference.

New this year was a panel discussion focused on “Rebuilding post COVID-19.” The discussion was moderated by Bakersfield City Councilman Eric Arias and included representatives from California State University, Bakersfield, the Kern Community Foundation, and Aera Energy. Panelists shared how their organizations are protecting their workforce and developing a new normal in light of COVID-19. The panelists answered dozens of questions from community members and businesses.

“We are huge supporters of the United Way of Kern County and truly believe in building community as we seek to improve lives outside our walls as well as within,” said Jamie Swetalla, Aera public affairs representative, who represented the energy sector on the panel. “We support our communities during good times and when they need us the most. We were thrilled to engage in these types of discussions with local nonprofits and businesses, since we have all been apart for so long.”

Cullen says the organization plans to keep this event open to the community and local businesses moving forward.

“We all came together in the same room to collaborate – from small businesses to large corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Everything came together really beautifully, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with this event,” Cullen said.

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