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Santa Barbara County Hires New Social Services Director

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday announced the appointment of Daniel Nielson to the position of social services director.

The new director will lead a department with a budget of $144 million and 665 employees who provide services to children and families, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed and underemployed, and those receiving public assistance.

Nielson is currently the director of the Health and Human Services Agency for El Dorado County, where he is responsible for leading social services, mental health, public health and community services.  The expanded agency was created in 2011, and Nielson has been managing the integration of the Health Department into the Human Services Department since then. He has held the El Dorado director position since 2009.

The new director began his social work career with the County of Santa Clara, where he rose through the ranks and then moved to the County of Merced Human Services Agency, where he served as a deputy director of the Human Services Agency.

In addition to a strong social services background, Nielson has also enjoyed a diverse career that includes a stint as a project director for Community Health Centers in Utah, while he pursued his master’s degree in public administration, working for the State of Utah Department of Corrections as an adult probation and parole officer, a licensed social service worker, and staff supervisor, as well as the director of a transitional housing program.

Nielson’s educational background includes both his MPA and two undergraduate degrees, one in sociology and the other in family and consumer studies.

“The board unanimously voted to appoint Daniel Nielson as the county’s next social services director,” board chairman Salud Carbajal said. “He brings a strong knowledge of social services programs, a commitment to service, and a collaborative, transparent, and results-oriented style that will serve clients and the community well.”

Nielson will join the county’s team on May 13.

— Sonia Thompson represents the Santa Barbara County Executive Office.

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