Our Children, Our Families Council Members
Director of Health
Department of Public Health
Barbara Garcia is the Director of Health for the City & County of San Francisco. As the leader of San Francisco’s largest department, Ms. Garcia is responsible for ensuring the promotion and protection of the health of all city residents, and for strategic and policy leadership. She has presided over several significant innovations, such as the creation of the San Francisco Health Network, an integrated delivery system that includes primary, specialty, hospital, trauma, rehabilitation and behavioral health care. She also reorganized the Population Health Division in preparation for accreditation, and developed a capital plan to address the department’s aging infrastructure.
Ms. Garcia joined the health department in 1996 and has served as Deputy Director of Health, Director of Community Substance Abuse Services and Director of Homeless Services. In those roles she combined community consultation with the imperative to work within available public resources to develop effective strategies and programs to care for vulnerable populations.
For example, Ms. Garcia integrated substance abuse and mental health departments into a single behavioral health system of care, where “any door is the right door” for clients. She implemented pioneering programs to reduce homelessness, including a medical sobering center, an intensive case management program, city-wide homeless outreach teams and supportive housing. Ms. Garcia also developed a harm reduction policy that is now considered a best practice for alcohol, drug and HIV/AIDS treatment.
Ms. Garcia was previously the Associate Administrator of AIDS, Health and Human Services for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Prior to that she was Executive Director of the Salud Para La Gente Health Center in Watsonville, CA, for more than a decade, working with the farm worker community.
Ms. Garcia earned a bachelor’s degree from the Community Studies Education Credentialing Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. She has two honorary doctorates, from the California Institute of Integral Studies and the University of San Francisco.