Stanislaus community agency gets a new leader

kcarlson@modbee.comJanuary 9, 2013 

    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken

— A veteran social services manager started work this week as director of Stanislaus County's Community Services Agency.

Kathy Harwell was assistant director of the StanWORKS division before taking a job as deputy director of Sacramento County's Department of Human Assistance in late 2011. In Sacramento County, she oversaw finance, budget, technology, special investigation units, Medi-Cal and general assistance programs for a department with a $586 million budget and nearly 2,000 employees.

Stanislaus County hired her back to succeed CSA Director Christine Applegate, who retired recently.

"This has been what I consider home, where I raised my children," Harwell said. "I want to continue working on improving opportunities in Stanislaus County."

As CSA director, Harwell's salary is $150,000 a year, although a 6 percent county employee pay cut takes it down to $141,000, the county said.

Harwell started as an account clerk with the county in 1979. She worked her way to become an eligibility supervisor in 1989. During her career with the county, she managed several different public assistance programs.

Harwell also served on community boards and worked with organizations to implement programs to reduce poverty and assist children and adults, the county said. She has a bachelor's degree in business management from St. Mary's College. She serves on the County Welfare Directors Association of California fiscal committee.

Harwell said the department will stay busy this year as children in the Healthy Families program are moved into Medi-Cal and adult eligibility for the Medi-Cal program is expanded by the federal health care initiative.

The Community Services Agency could operate a call center for the California Health Benefit Exchange if the state decides this month to put the center in Stanislaus County.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at or (209) 578-2321.

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