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Wendy Sims-Moten


Wendy Sims-Moten, who has served as interim executive director of the First 5 Commission of Santa Barbara County, has been appointed executive director, a county spokeswoman said.

Sims-Moten temporarily filled the executive director's slot formerly occupied by Ben Romo until her permanent appointment.

First 5 Santa Barbara County partners with other county organizations to support early learning and the well-being of children up to age 5 and their families.

Since 1996, Sims-Moten has been the business manager for First 5, overseeing its fiscal systems and accountability, operations, human resources and organizational and staff development, said Gina DePinto, county communications manager.

She holds an associate of arts degree in communication from Santa Barbara City College and a bachelor’s degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College.

“Wendy is a great asset to the county and brings exceptional leadership and management expertise to this crucial role,” said Anna Kokotovic, chairwoman of the First 5 SBC Commission.

“She has the insight and passion to help move this outstanding organization forward to ensure we continue to support the health and development of local children and their families,” Kokotovic said.

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato echoed Kokotovic’s opinion.

“I know Wendy will provide professionalism, leadership and excellent customer service in a dynamic and challenging environment to address current and future needs of our county’s children and families,” Miyasato said.

“I would also like to thank Ben Romo for his many contributions and innovative leadership over the past five years as executive director of First 5,” she added.

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Romo became the management recovery and community engagement coordinator for the County Office of Emergency Management in March 2018.

In that assignment, he served as a liaison between residents, nonprofit organizations and the county for recovery efforts following the Thomas fire and 1/9 Debris Flow.

First 5 Santa Barbara County is funded by Proposition 10, and since its founding in 1999, the commission has distributed more than $65 million to programs that support the health and cognitive, social and emotional development of local children and their families.

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This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, news editor for the Santa Ynez Valley News. He can be reached at