Board of Directors

Bridget Escalera

Chairperson

 

Jackie Lopez

Vice Chairperson

 

Eugene "Gene" Albitre

Secretary/Treasurer

Gene's background growing up on a ranch in the mountains outside of Bakersfield and Native American (Digueno) heritage exposed him to skinning and dressing animals. Gene has vast experience in properly skinning an animal so that the hide is free from scrapes and will not be wasted, but will be used to its fullest potential. Gene's Rawhide creations are one of a kind specialized items that cannot be duplicated by machine and are extremely unique in today's world. For several decades Gene has been making drums, rattles, and other articles out of rawhide to promote and preserve Native American culture.

Gene has been actively involved in Native American culture participating in traditional ceremonies as well as Pow Wow's. Gene was President of the Native American Heritage Preservation Council of Kern County (a Non-Profit-Intertribal) for 19 years. In that capacity, he coordinated Standing Bear Pow Wow; Eagles Heart Dance Class; the Native American Fall Gathering and other cultural and educational events.

Gene has worked as a Native American Monitor and Consultant for the protection of Native American Cultural Sites. Gene has been both a participant and leader in numerous Cultural Activities and Ceremonies for many years. He is Secretary/Treasurer of the Bakersfield American Indian Health Project, and has been working as a Spiritual Leader at North Kern State Prison for the past 10 years.

Gene continues to promote the preservation of many different aspects of Native American culture at outreach events and in classrooms. Gene's knowledge of rawhide is a rare window to gain an understanding of the vital role that rawhide played as a tool helping to facilitate the survival of Native Culture. Nature was respected in the past as contributing to our survival and Rawhide was in harmony with this way of life. Rawhide is a lost art but not forgotten. By working in rawhide, Gene shows respect for this process that allowed so many to live. Gene has raised awareness of rawhide which helps us to honor our past and reflect on our connection and relationship to Nature and the world in which we live.

 

Laura Juarez

Member

Laura Juarez has over two decades of experience working at several Kern County Departments including Public Defender, Child Support Services, Juvenile Probation, and the District Attorney’s Office. Presently, she is employed with the Kern County Aging and Adult Services Department as a Senior Office Services Specialist and provides services to our aging seniors and persons with disabilities.  Laura has experience in project management, project coordination, supervision, fundraising, and event planning. In her current capacity, she works closely with members of the Kern County Commission on Aging, and the In-Home Supportive Services Advisory Committee. She is also a California Notary Public, and has done voiceover work for “The Kids Count Show," produced by Kern County Child Support Services.  Laura has also served on a Steering Committee for Child Support Services. 

On a personal note, Laura was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA. At the age of 15, she proudly volunteered over 1,000 hours as a Junior Volunteer at San Joaquin Community Hospital.  She graduated from Bakersfield Apostolic Faith Academy, and attended Bakersfield College where she studied Administration of Justice.  She also served as Secretary and Vice-President for her church’s ladies auxiliary. Laura is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation.  She has been married for 20 years to her husband, Johnny, a Northern Paiute-Shoshone.  They have a daughter, Sheyanne, who just had their first grandchild, Aiden, in September 2018.  Laura is extremely honored to be a member on the BAIHP Board.  She always strives to be open and receptive to new ideas.  She looks forward to sharing ideas and resources with others for the betterment of our community, especially our children and elders.  She is grateful for this opportunity and knows there is a lot of work ahead and is ready to serve.  One of her favorite sayings is “Many hands make light work."