Aantonette "Toni" Navarro

Navarro

A licensed marriage and family therapist who has managed mental health programs since 2003 has been named the director of Santa Barbara County’s Behavioral Wellness Department.

Antonette “Toni” Navarro was appointed last week by the Board of Supervisors and is expected to start Dec. 13, taking over from Dr. Pamela Fisher, who was named interim director following the departure of Dr. Alice Gleghorn in June.

Fisher will return to her previous role as assistant director of Behavioral Wellness but plans to retire from the county this winter, said a spokeswoman for the county.

"I am honored to be joining the Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness team and connecting with county staff, residents, behavioral wellness stakeholders and behavioral health providers throughout the county to hear their perspectives on wellness and recovery; and then working collectively to ensure that the department maintains a system of care that supports those needs in an equitable, effective and fiscally responsible way," Navarro said.

The County Behavioral Wellness Department has 403 employees and a budget of $164 million. Navarro’s annual salary will be a little over $202,380, plus benefits.

Navarro has been with Tri-City Mental Health Authority in Los Angeles County since 2008, serving six years as its chief clinical officer and the past seven years as executive director.

In that position, she has been responsible for planning, organizing and directing operations of the joint powers authority to provide outpatient specialty mental health services to the cities of Claremont, La Verne and Pomona.

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“Ms. Navarro is an inspiring and experienced leader with a track record of creating innovative programs and developing a dynamic and visionary behavioral system of care,” said Mona Miyasato, county executive officer.

“She has a community-focused approach, with expertise in both clinical programs and administrative oversight, and exhibits a heartfelt passion for this work.”

Miyasato also recognized Fisher for leading the Behavioral Wellness Department over the past six months, maintaining community relations and providing all services.

Navarro grew up in Santa Barbara and attended Santa Barbara High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in education, with an emphasis on marriage and family counseling, from UC Santa Barbara.

Her prior experience includes youth and family mental health and substance use disorder programming with Hathaway-Sycamores Children and Family Services in Pacoima and serving on the governing board of the California Behavioral Health Directors Association, the spokeswoman said.

For the past eight years, Navarro also has been an adjunct faculty member at the University of La Verne, and she currently serves as president of the California Social Work Education Center’s Advisory Board hosted by the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare.

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