Dr. Marla Stuart is the director for the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD). Dr. Stuart directs the County’s second largest department from which nearly 2,000 staff members deliver the county’s benefit programs and services to more than 300,000 county residents each month. These services include public assistance (CalFresh, Medi-Cal, CalWORKs General Assistance, and home energy), protective and supportive services for children and their families, and for dependent and older adults; Head Start and childcare; and workforce development.
Prior to becoming EHSD Director in April 2022, Dr. Stuart served as Deputy Director at the Solano County Health & Social Services Department where she oversaw the department’s Employment & Eligibility Services Division and 415 staff members who administer CalFresh, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, and General Assistance.
Dr. Stuart has dedicated 35 years in public service to promoting social justice and ensuring individual and community wellbeing. She started her career in Rockford, Illinois, where she served as a probation officer at a youth detention center and a case manager at an outpatient mental health services clinic. These experiences motivated her to earn a Master of Social Work with an emphasis on community organizing and planned social change.
In 1993, Dr. Stuart moved to the Diné Nation in Arizona where she worked for the Indian Health Service, taught at Diné College, served on the local school board, and led Girl Scout troops. In 2007, she moved to California and served at the Sonoma County Human Services Department leading planning, research, and evaluation activities.
In 2013, Dr. Stuart joined the School of Social Welfare at the University of California Berkeley where she earned a PhD and learned more about community wellbeing, public-private partnerships in the delivery of health and social services, complex systems, and data science. During this time, she participated in a project in Guiyang, China supporting local officials in their efforts to improve support systems for vulnerable older adults and left-behind children – children who remain with grandparents or other caregivers when their parents move to large cities for work.
Dr. Stuart’s parents and grandparents were dedicated to service, inspiring her focus on mitigating poverty, counteracting structural inequalities, ending interpersonal violence, alleviating trauma, and educating community members. Through her work, as well as that of her husband, a psychiatrist for the Veteran’s Administration, and their two grown daughters, a nurse and a teacher, Dr. Stuart’s own family continues this legacy.