County of Marin - Press Releases - Mental Health

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2013

Psychologist-Nurse to Lead Health Division in Marin

Suzanne Tavano brings experience to new position

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services has chosen Suzanne Tavano, Ph.D., a registered nurse, clinical psychologist and health care expert, as its Director of Mental Health and Substance Use Service. The Board of Supervisors will consider Tavano’s appointment on July 30.

Tavano, who has worked most of her career in the East Bay and San Francisco, will be charged with leading a division that provides services to adults and children pertaining to mental health managed care, youth and family mental health care, drug and alcohol programs and the Adult Drug Court program. In her leadership role, Tavano will plan, evaluate, administer and finalize budgets for the division, including complying with state and federal regulations.

Marin Health and Human Services is continuing to adapt its organizational structure and services to client, family and community needs, research informed best practices and adjust to economic realities. The new position, which combines the administration of mental health and substance use, reflects Marin’s focus on service integration and leadership excellence.

“Integration ensures that every door is the right door,” said Larry Meredith, Ph.D., Director of Health and Human Services. “At the same time, we are working to reduce stigma, promote early intervention and preventative approaches and fully engage clients, families and the community in creating a healthier and safer Marin where all can thrive.”

Tavano’s most recent position was consulting on health care reform and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for the California Mental Health Directors Association in Sacramento.

“Starting in January with the Affordable Care Act implementation, it’s going to be a very interesting time in our field,” said Tavano, a native of New York. “It will be a challenging but positive time for behavioral health.”

She served as Director of Mental Health and Substance Use Services for the County of Santa Cruz between July 2012 and January 2013. In July 2012, Tavano finished 18 years working with the Contra Costa County Department of Mental Health by serving 15 months as acting department director. Previously she worked in detention and hospital psychiatric services and community clinics serving children, adolescents, families and adults. She has held a variety of administrative positions in both the private and public health care sectors.

Tavano said she was attracted to the Marin position because of its legacy of strong behavioral health campaigns and the leadership within the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Marin has a reputation of making positive strides in improving the overall health of the community,” she said. “I’ve worked with Marin management in the past and got to know their work style, ethics and principals. I’ve been impressed with Marin County and attracted to its health initiatives. Dr. Meredith’s vision for promoting whole health is very appealing because I come from a background in physical and mental health. To provide care with good outcomes, you have to address all aspects of health and not leave anything out.”

Tavano has a bachelor’s degree and RN certificate from Syracuse University, course work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at Boston University, plus a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Berkeley.

Pending approval by Board, Tavano’s first day on the job will be Aug. 5. Her annual base salary will be $157,394.


Dr. Grant Colfax
Health and Human Services

20 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-3696
Email: Dr. Grant Colfax
Marin HHS website