RWJF Community Health Leader Takes Reins at San Francisco Department of Public Health

Feb 23, 2011, 9:09 PM, Posted by

Barbara A. Garcia, M.P.A., a RWJF Community Health Leader (1993), began her duties as director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health in January. Garcia had been the Department’s deputy since 1999. “Becoming the director is a really exciting opportunity to continue the work I’ve been doing with the department,” she said.

Her appointment by then-mayor Gavin Newsom was announced in October at the Latino Heritage Month Celebration and Awards ceremony, where Garcia was honored for her contributions to the Latino community in health and medicine.

Garcia received the Community Health Leader award for her work at Salud Para La Gente in Watsonville, California. As the executive director of the small clinic in a rural, predominantly Latino community, Garcia transformed the clinic into a federally-qualified, bi-cultural comprehensive health care center.

“Barbara’s extensive public health experience and her deep understanding of the City’s diverse communities uniquely qualify her to lead the Department and ensure San Francisco’s continued leadership on public health issues and outcomes,” Newsom said in a statement announcing her appointment.

Gracia has also served as Director of Community Substance Abuse Services and Director of Homeless Services in San Francisco, and Associate Administrator of AIDS at the Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In her new position, Garcia is focusing on preparing for and implementing health care reform. “We’ve already been asked to start structuring ourselves as if health care reform has started… so that requires us to strengthen our integrated delivery system. San Francisco is very fortunate to have a large trauma center and an acute care hospital, along with a skilled nursing facility and a very enriched community system of care. For the next few years, we’ll be working on strengthening that system of care.”

Learn more about RWJF Community Health Leaders.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.