Staff

Jimmie Soto

Executive Director


Jimmie has been the Executive Director of the Independent Living Center of Kern County since 2011. He earned a Master’s Degree in Education Administration and Supervision and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, both from California State University, Fresno. While in college, Jimmie was an active member of the Advocates for Students with Disabilities.

Jimmie is an active member of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers Board and their Executive Committee. He has been appointed to the State Independent Living Council (SILC) since 2013, and is on the State Plan for Independent Living committee with the SILC. He is a proud member of the local VOICED coalition, comprised of other non-profit Directors throughout Kern County. He is also a proud member of the Bakersfield East Rotary Club.

Before moving to Bakersfield, Jimmie held the position of Director of Program Services at Fresno County’s Independent Living Center, a position he held since 2001.

Jimmie is passionate about the independence of all people with disabilities. Disability has affected his own family with his own visual impairment and having a brother that is Deaf. In his spare time, Jimmie likes to spend time with his wife and three brothers, exercise, and watch football.

Tammy Hartsch

Finance Manager


Tammy is the ILCKC Finance Manager. Tammy attended Phoenix University and majored in Accounting and Finance. Before joining ILCKC, Tammy worked in the accounting field for many years gaining a vast knowledge in the public and private accounting sectors. Combining expertise in Accounting, Finance, Management, and Human Resources Tammy brings a broad experience range to the ILCKC.

Brooke Whitehead-Tolles

Program Manager


Brooke is the Program Manager and facilitates the collaboration between the Aging and Disability Resource Connection program and ILCKC. Brooke graduated from California State University Bakersfield with a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Religious Studies. Brooke has spent her career advocating for underserved populations and in her last position worked with at-risk youth and their families. A few years ago, Brooke was diagnosed with a chronic mobility disorder. Through her journey, she became passionate about advocating for the rights of others with disabilities which ultimately led her to her position at ILCKC.
Brooke, her wife, and her son, are Disney fanatics and in their spare time like to take weekend getaways to Disneyland. Brooke also enjoys playing with her service dog, Angus, and working in her garden.

Laura Rodriguez

Program Coordinator


Laura is the Program Coordinator for program staff here at Independent Living Center of Kern County (ILCKC). Laura joined the ILCKC family in 2011. Laura’s background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Services from California State University, Fresno. Laura’s previous field experience includes: 3 years’ experience working with individuals with disabilities in an educational and community setting providing both recreational opportunities and teaching independent living skills. Laura was involved in the recruitment and personal development of students in a Transition Program for Students with Disabilities by providing personal, academic, vocational, behavioral guidance and counseling services to students with disabilities. Laura also served as a student teacher for 1 year in the Fresno United School District. Laura believes she continues to learn from fellow co-workers and consumers. Laura is proud to be a part of a great team here at ILCKC and looks forward to making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities she encounters.

Jan Lemucchi

LTSS Manager


Jan is the Long Term Services and Support Manager for Independent Living Center of Kern County. Jan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Science from CSU, Fresno; grant writing certificates from The Grantsmanship Center, Los Angeles; California state certification for Court Reporting, Watterson College, Bakersfield; and a graduate of Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce Leadership Bakersfield. Jan’s 35+ year career in working with non-profits has an emphasis on marketing, public relations, event planning and fundraising for people with disabilities.

Alexandra Leyva

Services Manager


Alex began her professional relationship with ILCKC as an Independent Contractor Sign Language Interpreter in 2016, was hired full time as a Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Service Provider in 2018, and was promoted to Services Manager in 2020.

She is a trilingual, Bakersfield native with an eclectic educational background. She attended Bakersfield College where she completed the ASL Program, transferred to CSUB to study Art History and Criminal Justice, and began interpreting at the collegiate level. Alexandra is a firm believer in life-long learning and completed the Dental Assisting program at SJVC “just for fun.”

Alex has been involved in the Deaf Community for over 15 years. She has interpreting experience predominantly in the educational setting but also has festival, concert, wedding, and religious interpreting experience as well. She is eager to collaborate with other professionals, consumers, and advocates to help raise the bar for interpreting services and access provided here in Kern County.

Susan Privett

Assistive Technology (AT) Coordinator


Susan joined ILCKC with over 18 years of experience working in the medical field of patient advocacy, medical billing, and medical equipment and supplies. Susan’s life experiences include working with her husband, John, who started All Medical Supply in 1990 and served the community for over 24 years, working in the private, public and non-profit sectors, and community volunteering with many different organizations. Susan has a deep understanding in negotiating the web of life through the many paths journeyed upon in teaching and advocating for the needs of others, as well as her own family members who have “diversified abilities”.

Susan believes the OIB program (Older Individuals who are Blind and Visually Impaired program) is a good fit and will give her opportunities to serve consumers with knowledge and compassion. The ability to learn and teach different methods, tailoring OIB instruction to consumer-specific needs, and using the many types of assistive technology devices available are essential tools which enable others to preserve and enhance the visual acuity still possessed by our ILCKC seniors. “Where there is a will, there is a way”, is a motto Susan believes in to empower others to live fuller lives as independently as possible.

Savanah Adams

Public Policy Coordinator


Savanah comes to ILCKC with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology from California State University, Bakersfield, and an Associate’s of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies from Bakersfield College. Interpersonal skills gained from Savanah’s education, and many years in customer service, have prepared her to serve ILCKC’s consumers with a sensitivity and kindness allowing consumers to feel welcome and ready to receive services.

Carol Henry

Program Evaluator


Carol first came to ILCKC in 2016 bringing approximately 40 years of career skills. In her current position as Program Evaluator, Carol oversees ILCKC quality improvement, program evaluation, agency compliance and quality control for grant-funded programs. She ensures that reported data meets or exceeds grant requirements and finds solutions to systemic data collection problems, proposes new and / or revised processes for internal purposes related to grants and contracts.  Since her hire she has also supported and continues to assist in the transition of individuals to live independently while managing their own lives, including affordable housing, housing set-up, In Home Support Services (IHSS).  Also monitors transition enrollment, billing, and Transition program activities.

Santeri Salomaki

Accounting Clerk


Santeri came to Independent Living Center of Kern County with over two years of finance and accounting experience and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration and concentration in Marketing from California State University of Bakersfield. At California State University of Bakersfield, Santeri made the Dean’s list in the school of business six times and graduated with over a 3.5 GPA while being a finance tutor to help his fellow colleagues in finance and accounting. Santeri was born in Finland, speaks fluent Finnish, and has a diverse background from living around the US and parts of Finland.
Since becoming a member of the ILCKC team, Santeri has brought his knowledge of business to improve finance-related issues and procedures.

Jessica Renteria

Transitions Coordinator


Jessica Renteria is the Transitions Coordinator for ILCKC. Jessica graduated from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary and Special Education. Jessica has spent most of her career advocating for individuals with disabilities in an education and community setting. Jessica loves to come alongside anyone who needs support to advocate their needs. Jessica believes working with ILC will provide her with the opportunity to serve her community and lend a helping hand to someone who needs the assistance.
Jessica pushes herself every day in hopes of being a great role model for her kids and to her husband. In her spare time she loves spending time with her family and taking trips. Jessica’s dream is to one day open up a group home for special needs children. Jessica lives by the famous quote, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” –Milton Berle

Stephanie Smart

Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Provider


Stephanie graduated from Bakersfield High School in 2006 and continued her education at Bakersfield College where she earned her Associate of Arts degree in American Sign Language. While attending BC she had the opportunity to experience Gallaudet University with her professors on a week-long educational “tour”. Stephanie then attended California State University, Northridge (CSUN) where she entered the Interpreting Education Program . While an undergraduate there, she joined the Deaf sorority, Alpha Sigma Theta, where she served on the Executive Board for one year and as Alumna Advisor for one year. Stephanie was involved in the Deaf Studies Association (DSA), Real Women, Real Beauty (fundraising event for DeafHope), Sign ‘N Run and many other Deaf events. Stephanie graduated from the program and earned her Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Deaf Studies with an emphasis in ASL/English interpreting. After earning her degree Stephanie continued her education in the Accelerated Collaborative Teaching program at CSUN where she taught American Sign Language for one year at the secondary level. She stayed in the Los Angeles area as a freelance interpreter until her move back to Bakersfield in 2015. Stephanie has been involved with the Deaf community for over 10 years and is excited to bring more awareness to Deaf Culture as well as work with the Deaf community of Bakersfield.

Jasmine Rubio

Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Provider


Jasmine has been in Kern County her whole life. She grew up in Delano where she graduated from Robert F. Kennedy High School and attended Bakersfield College completing the ASL Program and the Interpreting Training Program as part of the very first cohort. She recently graduated from Bakersfield College with two Associate’s Degrees in Liberal Arts and American Sign Language. Jasmine worked alongside interpreters in the community, interning with Independent Living Center of Kern County before becoming an employee in November of 2019. Jasmine’s hope is for her ASL services help the community get more access to their resources.

Renee Hernandez

Independent Living (IL) Specialist


Renee began with Independent Living Center of Kern County as a receptionist volunteer for one year. She has since worked for ILCKC for the last 11 years as an Independent Housing Specialist assisting consumers with Housing and Independent Living services as well as helping consumers with other programs and services offered by ILCKC. Prior to ILCKC, Renee had 30 years in customer service. Renee holds an Associate Degree in Administration of Justice as well as graduating in 1999 from the Kern County Sheriff’s Department Academy and holds a PC 832 and Firearms degree.

Jessica Carrillo

Independent Living (IL) Rural Specialist


Jessica Carrillo is the IL Rural Area Specialist here the Independent Living Center of Kern County (ILCKC). Jessica joined ILCKC first as a volunteer in 2009 and was then hired on in 2010. Jessica’s numerous roles at ILCKC began with her position as an administrative assistant/volunteer coordinator in 2010;  she was an office manager in 2012; she became an IL Specialist in 2016 and in 2018 she became a IL Rural Area Specialist. Jessica also works with the California Community Transitions (CCT) Program which is a Medi-Cal based program which assist individuals who are in skilled nursing facilities to transition out and live independently in their own homes.

Outside of ILCKC, Jessica has been married for 8 years and is a mother of 5 children. One of her hobbies is extreme couponing. Jessica’s favorite quote to live by is from Henry Ford “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”.

Stephany Cisneros

Independent Living (IL) Specialist


Stephany graduated from Cesar E. Chavez High School in Delano, Ca. She attended High Desert Medical College and graduated as a certified diagnostic medical sonographer. She volunteered at ILC for 4 years prior to being hired as a receptionist in 2016 and has been with the organization since.

Adelaida Moreno

Accounting Clerk


Adelaida is an Accounting Clerk at Independent Living Center of Kern County a proud, Deaf Bakersfield native. Adelaida attended California School for the Deaf, Riverside for three years where she was involved Cross Country, Track, Cheerleaders, and graduated with honors in 2007. She then attended Gallaudet University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. At Gallaudet University, Adelaida made every effort to stay involved and participated in activities like Cross Country, Fashion Show Model, “So Other Might Eat” volunteer, Latino Student Union Member Committee, and even earned a certificate from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

Since returning to Bakersfield, Adelaida has been a Bakersfield Club of the Deaf committee member and helped organize events for Deaf Night Out. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends.

David Hendrickson

AT Advocate


David was hired by Independent Living Center of Kern County as an Assistive Technology Associate in May of 2017. David grew up in the greater Los Angeles area and was diagnosed with the sight robbing disease called retinitis pigmentosa. In the early nineties, David began using and self-teaching adaptive technologies in order to have more accessible information via a computer. He used magnification and screen reader programs to assist his visual disability. David is associated with the Braille institute of Los Angeles and the Junior Blind of America. David is also currently a Bakersfield delegate for the California Council of the Blind and tech consultant for the Blind institute of Technology.

As owner/operator of Cyber Works Computers, David specializes in small office networking. With advancements in technologies offering new opportunities for education and employment, David found himself reaching out to visually impaired community and individuals with cross-disabilities to share the information. Current technologies are now more attainable than any other time in history and David is passionate about raising awareness.

Diana Gonzalez

Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB) Specialist


Diana, our OIB (Older Individuals who are Blind) Program Specialist, assists individuals 55 years of age and older with specialized services that allows them to live more independently. She provides device & application instruction, low vision training & education, and public transportation instruction.
Diana is a Bakersfield native, graduated from Ridgeview High School, has an AA degree in Psychology from Bakersfield College with plans to continue her education at CSU Bakersfield to become a school psychologist.

Heidi Frye

Independent Living (IL) Specialist


Heidi joined the Independent Living Center of Kern County team July 2019 as an IL Specialist. Heidi has over 10 years’ experience as a nutrition counselor for the Bakersfield WIC program. She grew up in Bakersfield, went to Stockdale High School, Bakersfield College, and received her BS degree in Food Science and Nutrition from CSU Fresno. Heidi enjoys gardening with a special interest propagating succulents. At a young age, Heidi enjoyed gymnastics but began noticing a dizziness while performing. Symptoms caused concern leading to an eventual diagnosis of juvenile-onset medulloblastoma. Heidi’s experience with brain cancer, along with overcoming post-surgery challenges, will help empower people with disabilities to believe they can do what others tell them they can’t.

Valerie Rodriguez

Independent Living (IL) Specialist


Valerie Rodriguez has been in Kern County her whole life. She grew up Wasco, where she graduated from Wasco Independence High School. Valerie joined the Independent Living Center of Kern County (ILCKC) staff in June 2021. Before coming to ILCKC, Valerie has worked for and alongside other nonprofit organizations. Valerie loves to learn and volunteer. She considers helping others to be one of her life’s passions.

Hannah Witthans

Independent Living (IL) Specialist


Hannah Witthans joins the Independent Living Center of Kern County as an Independent Living Specialist. She received her Associate’s degree in Psychology with a certificate in Communication from Bakersfield College in 2018. She went on to graduate with honors from California State University Bakersfield in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. After being diagnosed at 19 with a rare connective tissue disorder and a comorbid circulatory disorder, Hannah became committed to helping other people with disabilities and raising awareness about rare and invisible health conditions and disabilities. She is excited to help other people with disabilities access necessary assistance and services to live independently.

Ian Spark

Special Projects Provider


Ian joins the ILCKC team with an Associate’s of Science in General Biology and an Associate’s of Arts in Liberal Studies from Bakersfield Community College (BC). While in college, Ian has been very active as they worked in several BC-Departments: from the Student Life Office working as marketing production team lead, to the Student Health and Wellness Center working in marketing and sanitation as well as a Biology Tutor in the Tutoring Center and an Academic Expert with the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Program. Ian was initially unaware of their learning/intellectual disability, which added a challenge to learning at the BC, which in turn extended their stay for an additional 3 years at the college before earning their 2-year degree. After joining the Disabled Students Program Services at BC, Ian discovered that the problem was not that they were lazy or any other stigmas related to intellectual and mental-health disability, but that hurdles they faced had required further assistance to create a more equitable learning atmosphere.
Once Ian learned about the services that are available at the college through their varied job experiences, they became empowered and began to encourage other students who may have also had learning/mental/physical disabilities, financial hardship, or lack of access to academic assistance to become self-advocates and become a “creator” in their life. By giving encouragement and direction to the proper services, Ian discovered their passion to assist others in becoming independent and empowered to advocate for the services that someone may need to optimally live, learn and grow. Ian truly believes in actively learning in every moment. They are proudly a part of the LGBTQI+ Community as a Trans individual, identifying as Nonbinary. Pronouns accepted are all pronouns (they, she, he, ze, xe); however, “they, them, theirs” is encouraged as a good neutral rule of thumb for any individual.

Ian Dowda

AT Specialist


Ian is a Bakersfield native who graduated from Ridgeview High School. He then attended and graduated from the Art Institute of California- Los Angeles with a Bachelors of Computer Science degree. Following that, he has gone on to collaborate with several television and commercial companies doing graphic design, visual effects, and motion graphics. Ian has almost 6 years of customer service years under his belt. Approximately 2 years were helping with troubleshooting apple products and 3 years I helped out with technical issues, data entry, and customer service in an office.
Ian enjoys helping people and was drawn to ILCKC because of that. He believes that if at the end of the day he was able to help someone who needed it and put a smile on their face then that was a great day.
In his free time, Ian enjoys spending time with his wife, playing some games, eating some food, and occasionally going out.

Josephs Morris

Special Projects Provider


Josephs, our Special Projects Provider, assists consumers with CalFresh, known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), and Public Safety Power Shutoff program implementation for community members in rural/ hard to reach areas that need power for their medical needs. Josephs was born and raised in the San Francisco / Bay Area where he completed the Green Energy Technology program at Oakland’s Laney College. Through these courses, he learned about advanced technologies where he created, grew, and educated communities focused on Mixed Reality. Josephs is excited to help the local and extended community in any way he can.

Patty Grubbs

Receptionist


Patty came to ILCKC with an Associate Degree in Science. Patty is married to and her husband Fred for 25 years. They have been local business owners of a feed & hardware store and lumber store. Patty has experience as a Licensed Realtor for over 10 years helping people buy and sell homes in the Bakersfield area. Patty brings her background, experience, and skills to ILCKC with a love for aging adults and people with disabilities. As ILCKC’s receptionist, enables Patty to assist with helping those in need, and at the same time, assuring they get to the right person for help. Her knowledge in business and working with people of all ages and avenues of life gives an advantage to help in understanding those in need of all walks of life. Patty has interpersonal skills and compassion, along with understanding and listening abilities, to assist people with disabilities.