Dr. Charity Dean
Dr. Charity Dean, who has served as public health officer at the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department since 2014, has been appointed assistant director at the California Department of Public Health. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

Dr. Charity Dean, one of Santa Barbara County’s most well-known and prominent physicians, has been appointed assistant director at the California Department of Public Health.

Dean, 40, has served as public health officer at the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department since 2014, and served as deputy public health officer from 2011 to 2014.

She and her family, including her three sons, Rocky, 11, Tiger, 9, and Buckley, 7, are moving to Sacramento.

“It is bittersweet to leave the county that I love,” Dean told Noozhawk. “Public service has always been my passion, and I am excited about the opportunity to serve public health for the great state of California.”

Dean has worked vigorously on the front lines of public health, striving to keep the community safe from influenza, valley fever, West Nile, the Zika virus and other serious illnesses. She is perhaps the state’s most vocal supporter of vaccines and immunizations, and she was front and center as the face of the county when the poisonous smoke cloud filled the air for a week during the Thomas Fire and the subsequent water quality and other health concerns following the Montecito debris flow.

“Over the past 7.5 years with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, this community has taught me about resilience, leading through outbreaks and crises, and the critical role of front-line public health work,” Dean said.

She was a resident physician in internal medicine at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital from 2008 to 2011. Dean also served as a commissioner for the First 5 Santa Barbara County Children and Families Commission and a fellow at the California Health Care Foundation since 2017.

In addition, she is a Ford Family Foundation Ford scholar and a member of the California Conference of Local Health Officers, the California Tuberculosis Controllers Association, the California Association of Communicable Disease Controllers, the Central Coast Medical Association and the California Medical Association.

She earned her medical degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine and a master’s degree in public health and tropical medicine from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Gov. Jerry Brown made the appointment of Dean, who is a Democrat.

“I have been blessed to serve beside a passionate public health team, an incredible county team and alongside many committed stakeholders,” Dean told Noozhawk. “As I move on to the role of assistant director at the California Department of Public Health, I hope to continue the important work of protecting the health of all Californians.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com.