Community services

Palo Alto Community Services Department director shortlisted for county role

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Sarah Duffy, a longtime children’s program analyst, strategist, and manager with children’s services in San Francisco and Palo Alto, has been hired as the first children’s manager in Santa Clara County.

The county announced Duffy’s hiring last week. The position, created last year after a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors, aims to better coordinate and utilize the county’s youth programs.

Duffy, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University and a master’s degree in public policy from UC Berkeley, took office on Tuesday.

“I am very pleased to lead this unique office,” said Duffy. “Santa Clara County leaders truly have a pulse on the needs of young people and their families. Adopting a system-based approach to promoting equity and creating opportunities for children and young people.

Duffy served as director of the City of Palo Alto’s Department of Community Services from 2021, and she served as data and evaluation manager for the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Families from 2011 to 2021.

The county has budgeted about $1 billion for children’s services in 2021-22, which is about 11% of its total budget.

“Santa Clara County has long been a force in providing youth programs and services, and those needs have been exacerbated by more than two years of the pandemic,” County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith said. “This new position will oversee some of the county’s most important goals – to keep every child safe, every child healthy, every child successful in learning, and every child successful in life.”

Supervisor Cindy Chavez said Duffy will play a “countywide leadership role.”

“It will change our way of thinking, in the long run, with an eye on fairness and an eye on prevention,” Chavez said. “To give him the wings to change the culture, he has to be seen as a body of work. I can’t wait to see our new head of children take our thoughts and do great things.”