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Alumni Association announces 2019 Hall of Fame inductees

The CSUB Alumni Association on Wednesday announced the 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame class, outstanding graduates who have shined in their careers and selflessly given back to their communities.

The four -- Charlotte Brandt, Tom Corson, Jeff Huckaby and Gene Tackett  -- will be inducted during a black-tie gala at the Seven Oaks Country Club on Feb. 15, 2019. It will be the 13th annual induction gala and the first under new CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny.

"This is the bucket list of bucket lists, the achievement of achievements," CSU Alumni Trustee John Nilon, a member of the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame himself, said at a press conference on campus held to announce the inductees.

President Zelezny said being inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame is the most prestigious honor a CSUB graduate can receive from the university. 

Members of the campus and general community nominate Alumni Hall of Fame candidates. A committee of campus and community constituents then makes the final selections.

Get to know our four fabulous incoming inductees:

Charlotte Brandt, Class of 1980
Master's degree in Health Care Administration

Charlotte Brandt

Counting her days as a candy striper at Mercy Hospital, Charlotte spent more than 60 years tending to the health of Kern County children and families as a nurse, then in retirement continued her and her family’s long tradition of philanthropy.

Charlotte went away to the University of San Francisco for nursing school in the early 1960s then returned home to work as a public health nurse and later supervisor for the Kern County Health Department.

She traveled the entire county, from Buttonwillow to Rosamond, treating families with chronic health problems, teaching parents how to nurture their kids and developing standards of care for healthcare providers and agencies.

From 1980 to 2004, Charlotte worked for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office as a school nurse who teamed up with other types of caregivers to address children’s health and educational needs, individually and collectively.

She’s worked inside schools, clinics and even people’s homes.

Charlotte was named California School Nurse of the Year in 1989 and Kern County Registered Nurse of the Year in Leadership in 1999. She was inducted into the San Joaquin Valley Nursing Hall of Fame in 2004.

A breast cancer survivor, Charlotte has served as president of Links for Life and the California School Nurses Organization as well as on the boards of countless education and child-welfare organizations. She chaired the Brandt Scholarship Foundation committee before it became part of the CSUB Foundation and has lectured at CSUB and Fresno State.

Charlotte and her husband of 51 years, Robert, have a daughter, son and four grandsons.

Tom Corson, Class of 1988
Bachelor's degree in Psychology

Tom Corson

Tom is a self-described “social engineer, a linker of people.”

For 30 years he’s brought together neighborhoods, agencies and community leaders to improve the lives of Kern County children struggling with poverty, abuse, health crises and educational inequities.

Since 2004 Tom has led the Kern County Network for Children, a Kern County-Superintendent of Schools alliance formed after alarming reports ranking local children as among those most at-risk in the state.

The network provides child abuse prevention services, oversees a one-stop resource center for foster youth and develops other countywide strategies to help kids and families succeed.

Tom has been doing the work since his college years, first as a group counselor with the Kern County Probation Department, then a health educator and project coordinator with Clinica Sierra Vista, and since 1997 as a project manager and then executive director at the Network for Children.

One of Tom’s crowning achievements is the opening and expansion of the Dream Center, where 200 foster kids a week come for health, education and transportation services, use of shower and laundry facilities, computer and Internet access, and to just hang out.

He serves on more than a half dozen community boards and has maintained close ties with CSUB through community partnerships he’s formed and run, as a frequent classroom speaker and by encouraging young people to attend.

Tom graduated from Bakersfield’s West High School, is a longtime power lifter, and has been married to his wife, Michelle, for five years.

Jeff Huckaby, Class of 1989
Bachelor's degree in Petroleum Land Studies

Edward Paine

Jeff jokes he wasn’t very good at growing carrots when he first started around age 11. He’s gotten really good at it.

Jeff is president of Grimmway Enterprises, the world’s largest grower, packer and shipper of carrots and the nation’s largest grower of organic vegetables. It’s Bakersfield-based but farms in seven states and sells worldwide.

Jeff is a fourth-generation farmer. Shortly after graduating from CSUB, he began his career with Wm. Bolthouse Farms supervising the processing of baby carrots. He moved up the ranks to general farm manager, growing 10,000 acres of carrots and rotational crops, before Grimmway hired him away in 1998.

Jeff became Grimmway’s organic farm manager and then general manager of its Cal Organic Farms Division. Under his leadership, the company’s organic acreage grew from several hundred to more than 40,000 acres.

Jeff was promoted to Grimmway executive vice president in 2006 and to president in 2016.

Jeff has served in his church, as a volunteer baseball and basketball coach, and on the boards of the Bakersfield Braves Baseball Club and Bakersfield Christian High School. He’s been a substantial donor to CSUB Baseball through the Hot Stove Dinners.

He’s a member of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture and the Dean’s Advisory Council for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently appointed him to the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee.

Jeff and his wife, CSUB alumna Michelle, have two sons.

Gene Tackett, Class of 2004
Master's degree in Cultural Anthropology

Gene Tackett

Gene’s long political career, as an elected official, consultant and activist, has been all about making Kern County a better place to live, and CSUB has been among its great beneficiaries.

He won’t be offended if you also know him as the late Wendy Wayne’s husband.

Gene is a proud product of McFarland who earned a bachelor’s degree in south Asian studies from UC Santa Barbara in 1969 and improved potato yields in north India for the Peace Corps during the 1960s.

It was through the Peace Corps he met Wendy and after backpacking around the world for eight months, they settled in Oildale to work on Gene’s first political campaign for the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

A Democrat in a Republican-dominated county, Gene served on the board from 1977 to 1985, during which time he was a key member of the resistance to a proposed nuclear plant in Wasco.

Gene went on to operate Gene Tackett Consulting Services, offering expert advice on business, health, politics, law and government.

Among his life and career milestones are helping the Tejon Indian Tribe fight for federal and state recognition and being appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the ACTION National Advisory Council to advise Congress on the actions of Peace Corps volunteers.

Gene has been a generous financial contributor to CSUB for a wide range of initiatives, founded and largely funded the Wendy Wayne Memorial Nursing Scholarship Endowment, and helped guide the growth of the Kegley Institute of Ethics.

He and Wendy, who died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer in 2012, have two sons and they have given Gene five grandchildren and three foster grandchildren.