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The Women Behind the Bakersfield Women's Business Conference

"The goals of the Bakersfield Women's Business Conference remain the same as when the conference began 21 years ago," she says. "We strive to provide attendees with a fun and information-packed experience they can immediately apply to their lives as well as share with others."

This year's theme, "The Power of You," focuses on women's limitless potential. "It reminds us that even in today's uncertain economy, we have the power to break through barriers and work together to achieve our goals. We have the power to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others if we only take that first step," Griebling says.

For the first time in its history, the Bakersfield Women's Business Conference will partner with a non-profit organization: American Cancer Society's Discovery Shop. Conference attendees will be encouraged to bring gently used business attire for the local Discovery Shop to assist women re-entering the work force.

The largest and longest standing event of its kind in Bakersfield, this conference gives women a chance to network with professionals, peruse vendor booths, and attend educational and inspirational seminars. The conference is organized by local women for local women. KCFM wanted to highlight three of the women instrumental in planning this event: Graciela Griebling, Event Chair; Colleen Bauer, Keynoters and Immediate Past Chair; and, Anne Schoolcraft, Marketing.

Graciela Griebling

Graciela Griebling has been planning for this 21st annual event since the day after last year's conference. For the 2009 conference, she worked as Vice Chair, which gave her an entire year to observe and be mentored by the 2009 Event Chair, Colleen Bauer. Graciela has been attending the conference since its inception in 1990. She says, "The energy and enthusiasm of the attendees was incredible, and I was immediately hooked."

This year, she assumed the proverbial helm, and with her new title comes many responsibilities including facilitating the strategic planning process, providing organizational leadership, appointing committee chairs, setting agendas, and much more. "Today, I am proud to represent a group of 27 phenomenal women and countless volunteers who make the conference one of Bakersfield's premier annual events," she says.

Personally, the conference has helped Graciela in many ways. "The conference has provided me with the motivation to keep working toward my personal and professional goals, no matter how lofty or unattainable they may seem to others," she says. "Much of what I have accomplished in my life I owe to the mentoring and support of others, and a great part of my confidence to succeed came from advice I learned at the conferences over the years."

Graciela works as the Internal Communications Coordinator for Chevron's San Joaquin Valley operations in Bakersfield, California. For the past 13 years, she has been an adjunct English professor at Bakersfield College. She married her high school sweetheart, Michael, and they have two children, Brittany and Erik.

Colleen Bauer

Colleen Bauer, Keynote Committee Chair and Immediate Past Chair, says that working with Bakersfield Women's Business Conference has taught her to never underestimate what a group of powerful women can accomplish. As the Event Chair for the 2009 event, Colleen worked to update the conference to create new excitement. Together with her committee, they changed the colors, the logo, the website, and food. Their strategy worked, too, because for the first time in years, it sold out, and their fundraising efforts were the highest they had ever been in the conference's history. "Every year we as a board are looking for new ways to improve the conference to make it bigger and better for all those to attend. Our goal is for the attendees to have an amazing day," she says.

This year, as the Chair for the Keynote Committee, she finds the opening keynote speaker, closing speaker, and premiere keynote speaker. She has also been available to help this year's event chair, Graciela Griebling, as needed. "It can be hard to let go. The conference for a year is your baby, like your wedding but for 1,500 people," she says.

Colleen has also learned a lot personally from her experiences with the conference and has made many connections in the community. "You have an opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the most powerful women in Bakersfield. My family is proud of the work I have done with the conference and have been a tremendous support," she says.

As a Business Development Officer for Rabobank, Colleen works closely with all 17 Relationship Managers in the Central Valley. She married her high school sweetheart and they have an eleven-year-old son.

Anne Schoolcraft

Anne Schoolcraft, Marketing Chair, says the conference has given her many networking opportunities and a chance to feel more connected to the community. "The highlight of the conference for me personally would definitely be the day with the Opening Speaker. You can feel energy in the air. Also, knowing that some aspect of the day will inspire them [attendees] and they will carry that with them back to their office or home," she says.

Her duties as the Marketing Chair include promoting the conference to previous conference attendees and women at all levels of business and at all stages of their lives. The committee works closely with local media and uses "ambassadors" made up of previous conference attendees and previous board representatives to disseminate information. She has been involved in planning the conference since 2007, and this is her second year as Marketing Chair.

One of the most valuable lessons she has learned from her involvement with the conference is that women enjoy spending time together. "Women just naturally love to get together, network, and reconnect with colleagues and their friends. Women do it naturally – we're just providing the venue for them," she says.

This year, Anne is especially excited about the conference's new partnership with American Cancer Society's Discovery Shop. "We want to empower those women who need a little extra assistance when it comes to that job interview or that first day of a new job," she says.

Anne works as the Rideshare Coordinator with the Kern Council of Governments. She has been married for almost 14 years.

For more information and to register, visit


Anne's Fiesta Chopped Salad

1 red bell pepper, cored and diced

1 yellow bell pepper, cored and diced

1 green bell pepper, cored an diced

1 ripe tomato, diced

1 small zucchini, 1/4" slices diced

2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1/2 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, 1/2" slices

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 avocado, diced, tossed with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to garnish

1. Combine the peppers, tomato, zucchini, scallions, cucumber, and parsley in a bowl

2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over salad and toss well. Just before serving, sprinkle salad with avocado.

This is a great salad on its own; but I often place it on top of romaine and spinach, and it becomes my "dressing " for the greens.

Gracie's Sunday/Monday Pot Roast

The Sunday part of this recipe was came from my father's family, and the Monday part was my mother's addition. Everything is cooked on the stove top and fills the house with a delicious aroma!

Assemble the following:

· 1 large cast iron Dutch oven

· 1 package instant dried soup mix, onion flavor

· 6 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

· ˝ cup organic extra virgin olive oil

· 3 pound beef boneless pot roast

· 1 large bag baby carrots

· 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped

· 3 garlic cloves

· 1 T ground black pepper

· 1 T dried Italian seasoning

· 1 T dried oregano

· 1 C water



Heat olive oil in cast iron Dutch oven on stove over medium heat until warm, about 1-2 minutes. (Hint: never leave heating oil unattended). Carefully add roast and brown on both sides. Be careful about oil splatters as it will be hot. Once browned, if needed you can remove the roast temporarily to a serving platter and drain the remaining fat into a heat proof receptacle, returning the roast to the pan. This step may not be necessary if oil is absorbed by the roast.

Add black pepper, Italian seasoning, and oregano to both sides of roast. Add dried soup mix to top of roast. Add water slowly to perimeter of roast, being careful of splatters and steam as water will instantly boil (you can use other liquids here, but soup mix is pretty salty, so be careful). Cover roast and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 1 ˝ hours on low.

Remove lid and check level of liquid. Remove and reserve any liquid except for approximately 2 inches. Add carrots, peeled garlic cloves, peeled and quartered potatoes, and chopped onion around perimeter of meat. Cook an additional 30 minutes to an hour until meat and vegetables are fork tender. Potatoes will cook quicker than carrots, so they can be added 30 minutes before serving. Remove cooked meat and vegetables to serving platter, placing vegetables around meat or in separate serving dishes.

To make gravy, heat 1 - 2 T flour in Dutch oven on low heat, stirring constantly with whisk, and pour remaining liquid a little bit at a time from prior reserve. Add liquid slowly, using whisk to scrape up any roast bits left in pan. Continue to add liquid and cook until desired consistency. If you add too much liquid, let gravy reduce. Serve gravy with vegetables and roast.


You have several options here to use up the remaining meal from Sunday. You can slice the meat thinly, warm it, and place on bread, using the warmed gravy as a topping for open faced hot roast beef sandwiches. I usually add green beans as a side dish. Or you can use a nonstick skillet and using the chopped up vegetables, make a beef hash. This is my favorite. I chop up the cold vegetables and sauté them in the pan, then add some diced roast, then the gravy. I usually toss in a shake of hot chili flakes to give it a little kick, then serve it with ketchup on the side. Of course, it's fun to experiment, and maybe you would rather make a beef pot pie, beef tacos, or other main dish. Enjoy!

Colleen's Peanut Blossoms (This recipe has special meaning to Colleen. She entered a baking contest during Junior High and won first place with this recipe).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes

Sift together

1 3/4 cup sifted Pillsbury flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt


1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup peanut butter

gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar.

Cream well.

Blend in 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat well.

Add dry ingredients and mix well.

Drop by teaspoon into balls, roll in sugar, and bake!

Top with candy kiss pressing down. Return to oven for 2-5 minutes more.


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