County Appoints New Public Health Director and Agricultural Commissioner

County Appoints New Public Health Director and Agricultural Commissioner title=
Santa Barbara County appointed Mouhanad Hammami (left) as the new Public Health Director and Jose Chang (right) as the new Agricultural Commissioner [courtesy photos]
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By the County of Santa Barbara

After a nationwide search, the County of Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors has approved the appointment of Mouhanad Hammami, MD, MHSA as the new Public Health Director.  His first day will be January 23, 2023. Dr. Hammami will assume the duties from Interim Public Health Director Daniel Nielson, who was appointed to the interim position following the departure of Dr. Van Do-Reynoso in July 2022.  Nielson will continue to lead the County of Santa Barbara Social Services department.

Dr. Hammami has more than 20 years of experience in public government administration and healthcare. During the COVID-19 pandemic he served as the Chief Health Strategist for Wayne County, Michigan. There he assembled the Covid Command Center and team to address the County’s pandemic preparedness efforts; expanded testing, and established and implemented a successful vaccination plan.

Deeply committed to public health, public service and collaboration, Dr. Hammami spent 18 years working for Wayne County Michigan where in his tenure he was Director and Chief Health Officer for the Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness serving 1.2 million residents.  In his time at Wayne County, Dr. Hammami implemented a “no wrong door” customer referral management system, integrated clinical services into the public health department forming a “wrap around” model of care delivery, and established new health centers in underserved areas. He has also served as Senior Vice President at a not-for-profit health system operating 94 hospitals in 22 states.

“Dr. Hammami is just what our County needs as we move forward from the pandemic.  He is going to be a great asset to the County leading the strategy to improve health for all individuals and improve the underlying social determinants of health in our communities,” said Board Chair and Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann.

“I am so excited to be joining the public health team at Santa Barbara County and grateful for the trust of County Executive Miyasato and the Board of Supervisors have placed in me to lead the department.  This is such an important time for public health as we are recovering from a pandemic that reaffirmed the importance of public health,” said Hammami, “It is a great honor and a privilege to serve residents of Santa Barbara County in ensuring that all their health and wellbeing needs are met as we advance towards a, ‘One Healthy, Santa Barbara County’.” 

The Public Health Department performs a broad range of health-related services, including investigating disease outbreaks, conducting health education campaigns, inspecting food establishments, working with high risk mothers and children, operating health clinics for the underserved, staffing medical shelters during emergency evacuations and even caring for animals.

“Dr. Hammami is exceptionally well prepared to lead the team of more than 500 dedicated employees within the Public Health Department, and advance efforts to achieve optimal health and wellness in our communities,” said Mona Miyasato, County Executive Officer.

Hammami received a medical degree from the University of Aleppo, Syria; a certificate in the foundations of public health from the University of Michigan and a master’s in health services administration from the University of Michigan.

For information about the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and its many divisions, go to



The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has approved the appointment of Jose Chang as the new Agriculture Commissioner/Director of Weights & Measures.  His first day will be Jan. 23, 2023. Chang will assume the duties from Cathy Fisher, who is retiring after 12 years as Commissioner.

Chang has worked in agriculture/weights and measures since 2006 for the County of Napa and most recently the County of Monterey.  He is a proven leader serving as the President of the California Association of Standards and Agricultural Professional in 2018-2019 and in his role as Assistant Agriculture Commissioner/Sealer for the County of Monterey handling a $13 million budget and 80 staff members.

Growing up in an agricultural family, Chang has always been passionate about agriculture.  He studied agriculture at UC Davis and has spent his career working to protect and promote agriculture in the California Agricultural Commissioner System. 

“The experience, skill set and education I have gathered over the past 18 years have led me to this position.  I have worked in Napa where wine grapes are the primary crop and as you know, wine grapes are one of the top agricultural commodities here,” said Chang. “In addition, working in Monterey County I acquired knowledge and experience of the vegetable and fruit crops grown there, ranging from strawberries to broccoli, which have tremendous economic value in Santa Barbara County.”

“Mr.Chang is a wonderful addition to the County of Santa Barbara.  Agriculture is a vital pillar in the economic structure of our County and with Jose’s background in other California counties that focus on agriculture and his familiarity with our top crops, he has a good understanding of just how important the work he will be doing is for our whole community,” said Board Chair and Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann.   

The Agricultural Commissioner’s Office enforces laws and regulations in our agricultural weights & measures programs. The department has a budget of more than $7 million and has 37 full-time employees. Pesticide use enforcement and pest prevention are the main components of the agriculture budget program. These programs are designed to ensure the safe and legal use of pesticides and to prevent the introduction of harmful exotic pests. The weights & measures program protects businesses and consumers by ensuring fairness in the marketplace. The department also provides education and outreach to the agricultural industry, businesses, and the public on regulatory compliance, integrated pest management, and agricultural pests.

Hartmann added, “I would like to recognize Cathy Fisher for her work and leadership as the Agricultural Commissioner for the past 12 years. She has worked to protect agriculture, natural resources and the quality of life in Santa Barbara County. She had been a wonderful leader working to improve processes and helping our agricultural community thrive while protecting the consumer.”

Chang received a Bachelor of Science degree from University of California, Davis in Plant Biology. He is bilingual in English and Spanish.  He holds his California Department of Food and Agriculture license for Agricultural Commissioner, Sealer, Deputy Agricultural Commissioner and Deputy Sealer.

For information about the Agriculture/Weights and Measures Department, go to Agricultural Commissioner | Santa Barbara County, CA - Official Website (

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a-1670983247 Dec 13, 2022 06:00 PM
County Appoints New Public Health Director and Agricultural Commissioner

Another bizarre proof of the bureaucratic ladder system. What has a person whose experience is with Wayne County (Detroit), a completely urban midwestern industrial space to offer a California small coastal town? Why would an outsider such as this be chosen over what must have been a good many local in house staff? This is wrong.

haskelslocal Dec 14, 2022 07:32 AM
County Appoints New Public Health Director and Agricultural Commissioner

This system is so broken. Exhaustive searches and over staffed everything. Layers and layers of burrocracy and nobody cares. Again, two fine gentleman for sure that are just part of the wheels in the cogs of to much government extracting too many dollars. Next will be the request for tax increases to pay for it all and the gallery will go silent. It's absurd.

sacjon Dec 14, 2022 08:50 AM
County Appoints New Public Health Director and Agricultural Commissioner

VOICE - but doesn't it make sense for those who have millions/billions to help bear more of the tax burden then those who are just scraping by? Too many think of taxing as a penalty or punishment. It's not. It's what funds our way of life (in a sense) as Americans.

Voice of Reason Dec 14, 2022 09:20 AM
County Appoints New Public Health Director and Agricultural Commissioner

You could confiscate all the money from all the billionaires in the US and it wouldn't make a dent in our annual expenditures. And you can only do that once. How much is enough? Should we double all taxes on those making over $500K? Still wouldn't make an impact. We have a spending problem and the problem isn't what we're trying to accomplish with the funds it's the incredible inefficiencies and waste in how those funds are deployed.

a-1671142761 Dec 15, 2022 02:19 PM
County Appoints New Public Health Director and Agricultural Commissioner

We live in a period of historically low income tax. Back in the 50s, the top rate on high incomes was over 90%. The result - lots of infrastructure investment to benefit the nation, and prosperity for most of the populace, rather than just for the 1% as we have now.

paglinsb Dec 14, 2022 08:46 AM
County Appoints New Public Health Director and Agricultural Commissioner

Sounds like two excellent hires. The people in these departments do not do glamorous work— they often grind through bureaucratic layers coordinating lots of legal, social, cultural, medical issues and laws all designed to make us safer. I, for one, am grateful, when I stop to think about it ( which is rare, thank goodness).

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