Meet Our Superintendent
Dr. Mary Barlow was appointed as Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2017, after serving as Associate Superintendent for two years. She was elected to a new four-year term beginning January 2019. Dr. Barlow provides leadership for the county office operated programs and the supporting divisions for 46 Kern County School Districts serving over 200,000 students.
Shortly after moving to Kernville, California, Mary attended Cerro Coso Community College at the Lake Isabella and Ridgecrest campuses before transferring as a junior to CSU Bakersfield, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1994. Mary went on to earn her Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, a Master’s Degree in Educational Management, her Administrative Services Credential, and an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership from the University of LaVerne.
Mary has spent the majority of her career in education, serving as a teacher, Director of Children and Family Services, and Superintendent. In 1996 Mary spearheaded the formation of the Kern River Valley Collaborative, a network of county, private and nonprofit agencies dedicated to delivering direct medical, dental, and social services to Kern River Valley children and their families. During her tenure as Superintendent of the Kernville Union School District, she successfully modernized all district schools and constructed a new middle school, while focusing on increasing student achievement. Under her leadership the district was named a California Distinguished School, Title 1 Academic Excellence District and was recognized at the state level for their programs promoting student health in nutrition and wellness.
Mary joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2009 as the Deputy Administrative Officer for the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), an agency that provides fiscal intervention for school districts, county offices of education, charter schools and community colleges throughout California. In 2012, Mary was appointed as Assistant Superintendent of Administration, Finance & Accountability for Kern County Superintendent of Schools, leading the County Office of Education’s fiscal oversight and support for Kern’s 47 local school districts and served as Associate Superintendent until her appointment as Superintendent in 2017.
Dr. Barlow is a board member of the following statewide organizations: California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team, WestEd, Cross Agency Statewide System of Support, Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region XI, ACSA State Superintendency Council, California School Boards Association (CSBA) Superintendency Council, and the Region 8 Lead Educational Committee.
As a tireless advocate for education and collaborative services, Mary serves her local community in a variety of capacities, including the Kern County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, the Kern Economic Development Council, the Kern County Network for Children, California Living Museum Foundation, the Downtown Business Association, the Kern Public Services Financing Authority, Kern Youth Empowerment Services, Rotary Club of Bakersfield, the Government Financial Officers Association, Kern Taxpayers Association, and Chairs the School’s Legal Service Board of Directors. Mary is a past Co-Chair of the First Five Kern Commission and a board member of Ready to Start.
Mary and her husband Steve have raised three adult children, Tony and twins Matt and Ryan. In her downtime she enjoys skiing, hiking, yoga and fitness, traveling and the arts.