Wendy Wayne Ethics Award


Wendy Wayne Day of ServiceThe Kegley Institute of Ethics sponsors and organizes the Wendy Wayne Ethics Awards. Wendy Wayne was a dedicated volunteer and ethical leader in the Bakersfield community and beyond. The Wendy Wayne Ethics Awards were dedicated in her honor upon her death in 2012 and sustain her legacy and commitment to service and ethics by recognizing individuals whose behavior embodies these values. Each year, nominations are accepted by the Kegley Institute in a youth category and in an adult category recognizing a lifetime commitment to ethics.

Please submit a nomination for a Wendy Wayne awardee by clicking the appropriate tab above that corresponds with the nominee’s age. For the purposes of the Wendy Wayne Ethics Award we define Youths as 24 and younger and Adults as 25 and older. Candidates must be from the Metro-Bakersfield region. Adults may be awarded either for a lifetime’s achievement or to honor a specific set of actions over a relatively short period.

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2024 Awardees

Ron White, Adult Awardee

White has over 30 years of experience in managing nonprofit organizations. He is currently the CEO of Habitat for Humanity Golden Empire, the local chapter of the worldwide nonprofit that supports communities by building affordable homes.

White has served in several local clubs and committees, including the Bakersfield East Rotary Club, the Kern Alliance of Nonprofits and the City of Bakersfield Parks and Recreation Project Advisory Committee.

He is also involved in the Transformative Climate Communities grant that the City of Bakersfield received from California Climate Investments, which supports initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy as well as improve public health and the environment.

White has received the Ambassador Award from the Kern County Shrine Club and is also a four-time Beautiful Bakersfield Humanitarian of the Year nominee. He has also been active in Kern County’s youth sports community. He was the executive director for the Golden Empire Youth Football Association for over two decades.

“I’m deeply humbled and honored to be selected as a 2024 Wendy Wayne Ethics Award recipient,” White said. “Wendy was truly a pioneer and trailblazer in her field. I had the distinct pleasure of benefiting from her wisdom and gracious counsel on more than one occasion as someone entering a life of community service many years ago. Wendy embodied the spirit of giving and her impact will be felt by our community for generations to come. I proudly welcome the opportunity to follow the path that Wendy so clearly and thoughtfully carved out!”

Martha Gonzalez, Adult Honorable Mention Awardee

Gonzalez is a first‐generation CSUB alumna in her final year as a graduate student in the university’s Master of Social Work program. She is the community outreach coordinator for JJ’s Legacy, which advocates for organ, eye and tissue donation. The nonprofit is focused on increasing the number of registered donors and providing support to donors and recipient families.

In her role, Gonzalez meets with organ recipients, assesses their needs and links them to the organization’s programs and community resources. She is also an adviser for the organization’s Got the Dot Leadership Club, a year-long program aimed at educating high school students about the importance of registering to be an organ donor.

After graduating with her master’s degree, she hopes to become a social worker serving transplant residents in Kern County so she can continue to help that population in the community.

“I am deeply grateful and honored to have been selected as an awardee and would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to the selection committee and to my nominator, Mrs. Lori Malkin,” Gonzalez said. “To be recognized in this way is a true privilege, and I am honored to be a part of an organization that strives to create a positive impact in our community. Working alongside a group of remarkable women who, like me, are personally connected to the cause of educating our community about organ donation and increasing the number of registered donors has been an enriching experience. A special thank you to Dr. Wendy Wayne, who continues to inspire us to spread kindness through community involvement.”

Dani Muñoz, Adult Honorable Mention Awardee

Muñoz is the interim executive director for The Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, a nonprofit organization serving the LGBTQ+ community in Kern County that provides a hub of safe spaces and services for this population.

Muñoz has been a tireless advocate for the local transgender and non-binary community, especially youth and young adults. They are heavily involved in developing programming and curriculum to educate and support this population. They also helped establish a Young Adult Council at the center, allowing youth to have a voice in the programming and service decisions being made.

“I am proud of the work I have done with The Center in the last six years, and I am so grateful to be able to build safe, empowering spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and adults!” Muñoz said. “I am continuously inspired to keep learning, growing, and advocating for myself and for my community. It is an honor to be seen in this work, thank you for the recognition with this award.”


Abigail Rodela, Youth Awardee

Rodela is a youth community organizer volunteer for the Kern County chapter of the faith-based grassroots organization Faith in the Valley, which aims to support San Joaquin Valley communities through social justice and health equity initiatives.

Her work is focused on supporting the city of Taft and surrounding rural communities. Rodela has given piano lessons to migrant children as well as done outreach to encourage residents to participate in workshops provided by the organization.

Rodela also helped organize a town hall last year to discuss renovating Ford City Park, which attracted more than 200 community members.

She is also involved in CSUB’s Philosophy for Children program and has helped bring it to Taft. Through the program, university faculty and students visit local libraries to lead groups of children in philosophical discussions. The goal of the program is to help children develop their critical thinking and collaborative learning skills.

Rodela is also an active leader at CSUB. She has been a student fellow of the Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Fellowship, a consortium of colleges and universities that provides students with training on how to navigate challenging political and cultural conversations and reduce political polarization through civil dialogue.

“Historically, within my cultural heritage, my ancestors established what is widely recognized as the very heart of our existence and survival despite historical oppression: communidad — an ethics of community that seeks profoundly for the collective well-being, growth and respect for the people who make you, you,” she said. “Receiving this award is a humbling and honorable moment for me, because when I receive this award, I am acknowledging that my people and comunidad are integral aspects of who I am, and it is my firm belief that they are receiving this award with me.”

Claudio Zavala, Youth Honorable Mention Awardee

Zavala is a freshman at CSUB, where he is majoring in business administration. He is the first in his family to attend college. He currently works for the Community Action Partnership of Kern, where he packs and distributes food for the food bank.

Diagnosed with autism at a young age, Zavala has overcome many academic challenges throughout his life. He earned notable accolades in high school — such as the Seal of Biliteracy for proficiency in both English and Japanese — and was also active in his school’s Japanese Club, eventually becoming president of the club.

Zavala has a passion for supporting the community and addressing food insecurity in Kern County. He is active with volunteer work and community service. After graduating from CSUB, he would like to continue serving the community as a small business owner providing resources and services that help those in need.

“Even though I didn’t win the scholarship award, I’m still more than happy to accept this honorable mention award with pride,” he said. “I see this as an opportunity to improve myself, enhance my current assets and continue going down my current path to achieve my dream and future goals. I will try harder in the future and continue to make the community and the people around me better through my own strength, optimism and, above all, kindness.”

Erick Plata Torres, Youth Honorable Mention Awardee

Torres is a program coordinator fellow with the Youth 2 Leaders Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on helping Kern County youth get into college.

He has been a leader in the organization’s Cash for College workshops, helping students apply for financial aid. He has also been actively involved in educational camps for students from low-income and underrepresented groups.

Prior to coming to CSUB, Torres was president of Bakersfield College’s Latinos Unidos Por Educación (LUPE) Club, helping provide resources for DACA and other undocumented students.

He has also held leadership positions at CSUB, including as the director of transfer students for Associated Students, Inc. Torres has helped the Transfer Resource Center organize events and has helped run information booths.

Torres was also a 2022-23 Kegley Institute of Ethics student fellow. As part of the fellowship, he spearheaded an ethics project focused on supporting DACA students.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank all of those who thought of my work in the community and nominated me for the Wendy Wayne Ethics Awards,” he said. “Although I have never expected anything in return for helping others, it’s a warm and rewarding feeling receiving this honor. It tickles me knowing I’m causing impact in my community. Thank you!”

2023 Awardees

NaTesha Johnson, Adult Awardee
Johnson, a CSUB alumna, is the program director of Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development for the Kern Community College District.

She is also the founder of Upside Academy, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides volunteer and community service opportunities for youth in middle and high school in Kern County. In 2019, the Academy was named Nonprofit of the Year by California Black Chamber of Commerce.

Johnson is the co-owner of the Bakersfield Wing Festival and has been involved in many community service and civil work projects, including food and toy drives as well as various fundraisers that have helped raise over $550,000 for local nonprofits.

Johnson is currently the chairwoman of the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference and has served on several boards, including for the 15 th District Agricultural Association and the Kern County Fair. She is also the first African American female president of the Historic Bakersfield Fox Theater in over 90 years.

Ellen Eggert, Adult Honorable Mention Awardee
Eggert has been an advocate and champion for suicide prevention for decades and is a three-time survivor of suicide loss herself. She has committed her professional and personal life to spreading suicide awareness and prevention and support for survivors of suicide loss. Eggert is the founder of Save A Life Today (SALT), a local nonprofit that raises money to support suicide prevention and assist those who have lost someone to suicide.

Since 2004, Eggert has worked with Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and is currently the program support supervisor for the Suicide Prevention Hotline. She also started a Survivors Outreach Team that connects suicide survivors to community resources and services.

Uchechi Okey-Dike, Youth Awardee
Uchechi is a senior at CSUB majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-medicine. She works as a student assistant for the Helen Hawk Honors Program and also serves as an Honors Ambassador, through which she helps spread awareness of the program, provide mentoring and representing the program at various events. Through grace and humility, Uchechi models positive and consistent leadership traits.

Uchechi has served as president of the Chemistry Club on campus and volunteers her time for many initiatives, including the African Student Association, the Black Student Union, and as an advocate for he creation of a Black cultural center at CSUB.

She is also a representative for CSU Students for Quality Education, a group that advocates for students in matters of representation, safety, equity and more.

Minaya Valentine, Youth Awardee
Minaya is a sophomore majoring in environmental resource management at CSUB who hopes to one day become a lawyer specializing in environmental law. Since arriving at CSUB, Minaya has shown a deep interest in helping people who are underserved in our community.

She is a student assistant for the university’s Food Pantry and, in this role, she has served the CSUB community by stocking the food pantry and by coordinating events raise awareness of resources for food-insecure students. Valentine is also a student ambassador for the Basic Needs Department, through which she helps connects students with the various services and resources provided by the department.

Minaya is also involved with several clubs on campus, serving as vice president of the Environmental Resource Management Club and as a member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Club.

Award History and Criteria

Originally started in 2012 as the Kegley Institute of Ethics Community Ethics Award, the award name was changed to honor Wendy Wayne, after her untimely passing. In addition to being revered in the community for all her good works, she was one of KIE’s early advisors and strongest supporters; she was instrumental, in fact, in helping us set up the original version of the award.

There are two award categories: an adult (age 25 and older) and a youth (24 and younger). Candidates must be from the Metro-Bakersfield region. Adults may be awarded either for a lifetime’s achievement or to honor a specific set of actions over a relatively short period. Criteria provided below.

Adult recipients, by year:

  • 2012, Ms. Collen McGauley, Executive Director of CASA of Kern County
  • 2013, Ms. Wendy Wayne, presented posthumously
  • 2014, Mr. Lance McCullah, assistant football coach, Bakersfield High School
  • 2015, Ms. Jan Hefner, Mercy and Memorial Healthcare
  • 2016, Ms. Karen Goh, President, Garden Pathways
  • 2017, Dr. Thomas Larwood, presented posthumously
  • 2018, Pastor Manuel Carrizalez, Stay Focused Ministries
  • 2019, Ms. Judy Snyder, Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault
  • 2019, Mr. Daryl Thiesen, Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office
  • 2020, L. Dee Slade, African-American Network of Kern County
  • 2022, Jayme Stuart, Kern County Network for Children
  • 2022, Dixie King, Transitional Youth Mobilizing for Change
  • 2023, NaTesha Johnson, Upside Academy, Inc

Youth recipients, by year:

  • 2013, Ms. Victoria Scoggan
  • 2014, Ms. Elizabeth Pelzer, North High School
  • 2015, Mr. Joseph Constantine, Frontier High School
  • 2016, Ms. Carly Riddle, North High School
  • 2017, Ms. Yoceline Aguilar, South High School
  • 2018, Ms. Navjyot Gill, Golden Valley High School and UC Irvine
  • 2019, Ms. Yvette Flores, Kern County Voter Engagement Project and CSUB
  • 2020, Samantha DeLaCruz, CSUB Club Gender Equality Now!
  • 2020, Nikolas Lopez, Liberty High School, Equity and Inclusion Student Advisory Council
  • 2022, Alex Fan, Centennial High School, California State Seal of Civic Engagement
  • 2022, Neftaly Gonzalez, Redwood High School, Multicultural Club
  • 2023, Minaya Valentine, CSUB Food Pantry
  • 2023, Uchchi Okey-Dike, CSUB Social Justic Advocate

Award Criteria

The Awards recognize individuals who possess core character traits that result in a commitment to virtuous action beyond their personal interests. These individuals have internal virtuous dispositions, but also act on them, striving to make the world a better place. Further, they do it simply because it’s right, not because they seek some fame or fortune. In fact, in nearly all cases there will be some degree of self-sacrifice: e.g., challenging a status quo in a way that causes personal and professional hardship or hindrance; acting on behalf of a vulnerable person, knowing that doing so will mean the loss of friends; or giving up on a lucrative career path, so as to instead try to improve the lives of those worse off.

Some will devote a life to these pursuits; others will become immersed in correcting a particular injustice: hence our two adult categories — “lifetime achievement” and “specific action(s).” To date, our youth awards have gone to people who are in the process of developing that lifetime commitment, as revealed in multiple actions over a significant period of time, but one can also imagine a courageous specific intervention on an injustice.

Examples of Virtuous Dispositions Include:

  • Courage: Persons of courage display a quality of spirit that enables them to face danger or pain without succumbing to fear.
  • Other regarding: Other-regarding persons extend beyond themselves, often through great effort, to better others.
  • Diligence in the face of adversity: Diligent persons engage in the hard work needed to face and overcome a challenge, including overcoming one’s own and others’ apathy.
  • Consistency: Connected to the idea that the actions in question are part of one’s core nature, persons of consistent character manifest the commendable behavior over some period of time.
  • Impact: The commendable behavior brings positive change to the community.
  • Humility: Humble persons demonstrate the commendable behavior in a quiet and unassuming manner. S/he does not seek associated recognition or self-promotion.
  • Gratitude: Grateful persons recognize that whatever gifts they have are due, at least in part, to the efforts of others; s/he thus strives to give back in thankfulness.
  • Fidelity: Persons of fidelity can be trusted to be honest and to honor commitments.

Some Highlights:

Ms. Hefner (2015) was chosen for her tireless efforts, across several decades, to provide support for Bakersfield area LGTBQ citizens, with such efforts ultimately resulting in the creation of the Bakersfield Gay and Lesbian Center. When AIDS first hit our community, there were very few medical resources and even less understanding of the disease and its impact, particularly on gay men. Ms. Hefner tirelessly worked to secure more effective healthcare and to provide an emotional support system for those stricken with the disease and their loved ones. She singlehandedly changed the way our community perceives AIDS and LGTBQ persons.

Ms. Carly Riddle (2016) was chosen for the courage and perseverance she shows in helping others, even while managing her own struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome and having grown up in extreme poverty. Even while her peers sometimes tried to make her feel lesser for being intelligent and lacking the financial resources to fit in socially, she topped them all by having the biggest heart in the room and consistently helping others to succeed, academically and socially. Ms. Riddle refuses to let her disability define her: She has grown into an incredible human being, one who continues to overcome adversity and make a positive difference in the world around her.

Youth Application

Application Due Date: November 28, 2023

I. Nominator Info
II. Nominee Info
III. Testimonial
In the area below provide testimonial as to the nominee's character and achievements. Explain how the nominee reveals ethical courage and/or how the nominee demonstrates ethical leadership. Provide specific examples of his or her ethical leadership, ethical stand, or intervention on a challenging issue. Please be specific. Please limit testimonials to no more than 500 words in length

Adult Application

Application Due Date: November 28, 2023

I. Nominator Info
II. Nominee Info
III. Nomination Category
Please select one of the two categories below for the Adult Award
For the lifetime category, explain how the nominee has served as an ethical role model for others, how she or he has committed a life to ethically exemplary behavior. Please give specific examples that reveal the nominee's character and achievements. For the specific action category, explain what actions the nominee has taken that reveal his or her commitment to ethical choices, perhaps in the face of strong pressures to do otherwise. Please give specific examples. Please limit testimonials to no more than 500 words in length