Daniel Nielson, head of the Santa Barbara County Social Services Department, has taken on the additional role of interim director of the county’s Public Health Department.
Mr. Nielson’s new assignment, which began Friday, was initiated by the departure of Dr. Van Do-Reynoso after five dedicated and eventful years of service with the county, county officials said.
As director of Social Services for the past nine years, Mr. Nielson has overseen critical county programs and services such as child welfare, Medi-Cal eligibility, protective services and workforce development.
Prior to Santa Barbara County, he was the director of the Health and Human Services Agency in El Dorado County where he oversaw the Public Health, Mental Health, Social Services and Community Services departments. His vast experience in issues surrounding public health will serve him well in the interim director role, officials said.
Mr. Nielson will continue to head the Social Services Department while assuming the duties of Public Health interim director, with support from Public Health executive staff.
It is anticipated that the search for a permanent director of the Public Health Department will be nationwide, and take approximately six months.
Dr. Van Do-Reynoso has served as Public Health director since 2017, leading the department through countless events and disasters, such as the Thomas Fire and other wildland fires, the 1/9 Debris Flow and the Covid 19 pandemic, to ensure the county’s health and safety.
“Van has artfully and gracefully led her department of 529 FTEs with a budget over $103 million, weaving trusting connections among the people, programs and services including animal services, environmental health, disease control, administration, finance, emergency medical services, primary care and family health,” officials said. She will continue to work with the community in her new role as chief customer experience officer with CenCal Health.