BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Becoming Cal State Bakersfield’s president in 2018 was a turning point for Lynnette Zelezny’s career and the entire CSU system.
"My appointment was even more celebratory, not just for me but for women and also emerging women leaders to see that the majority of women presidents in the CSU looked like them," she said.
Thanks to Zelezny’s appointment, women make up the majority of CSU presidents.
She’s also CSUB's first female president.
“A fantastic moment for me and it’s something that I think has meant a lot to women who are thinking about leadership," said Zelezny.
Working with CSUB's roughly 12,000 students comes pretty naturally to her.
“I’m a mother of three grown children and I bring 'mother' to my job every single day. I love being with young people. I love being in a university environment," she said.
As president, Zelezny has many responsibilities. She oversees divisions like Academic Affairs, Business and Administration, Student
Affairs and Communications.
“I have a wonderful, multifaceted job but my most favorite thing is to be connected with students," she said.
So she created “Runner Walk And Talk” where around 300 students and staff join her for walks around campus each month.
“I really love it because the students know it’s their prioritized time with me. They can share with me any concern, thought or idea," she said.
Zelezny didn’t plan on becoming president of a California State university, but doors kept opening for her.
“A lot of leadership opportunities came my way through my 30+ years in higher education and I just said yes to those opportunities because I wanted to learn and I wanted to grow and I wanted to give my best to any initiatives that might help students," said Zelezny.
She and her husband met at Humboldt State University and worked at Fresno State before moving to the Central Valley to raise their kids.
"We think it’s the best decision we ever made," said Zelezny. "We love the Central Valley, we love the people, we love the opportunities that are here.”
Zelezny loves Women’s History Month and sends thank you cards to female leaders across the nation every year.
“Thank you to all the women leaders that I serve with here in Kern County and thank you to women leaders who are fearless and do great things every single day for others," she said.
And she leaves this advice to any woman hoping to make their dreams a reality: "Be open to opportunities. Be open to learning and also realize that when there's an opportunity in front of you that you need to feel confident, you need to feel fearless and you need to put your name in.”