Civics 101 session - Sep. 6, 2022

Have questions about local government? Want to learn from department heads and other county leaders? Then Civics 101 is for you!

The Civics 101 Academy is a free course that provides an in-depth look at County programs, services and finances. Participants primarily learn from and interact with department heads or their designees regarding topics such as health, public safety, human services, parks, public finance and more. Light refreshments are served.

Civics 101 is also an opportunity for us to hear your perspective and learn from you. What are your priorities for improving the quality of life for all on the Peninsula? What do you care about? What are your ideas? We want to know!

Maybe you're simply interested in learning about the workings of San Mateo County government, such as the wide array of services and programs it provides to residents. Or like a number of past participants, maybe you'll be inspired to serve on one of the County's many boards and commissions, where volunteers like you work to advise the Board of Supervisors and help improve our community! Or, who knows, maybe your civic-mindedness will spur you to seek local elected office someday or join the remarkable team of dedicated County government employees that serve our residents. 
  • Civics 101 meets one evening per week -- from 6 pm-8:30 pm -- for nine consecutive weeks, from approximately late August to early November.  The schedule will appear here when set, likely by June, 2023. 

  • Location: 501 Winslow Street, Redwood City (the Regional Operations Center on the campus of County Government Center). There is free parking nearby.


If you have questions or would like to be placed on the interested list for the Fall 2023 Civics 101 Academy, please contact program facilitator Eric Forgaard at

2022 Schedule below (for reference only. The 2023 program will be similar):

Sep. 6: County Government Overview 
County overview: chief communications officer Michelle Durand; Emergency Management: interim director Don Mattei, Community Emergency Response Team: emergency mgmt. coordinator Jeff Norris

Sep. 13: San Mateo County Health
Intro to San Mateo County Health: Srija Srinivasan, deputy chief; Equity in Health Care Delivery: Alpa Sanghavi, MD, chief quality and patient experience officer, San Mateo Medical Center; Generational Impacts of Home Visiting Health Care Programs: Anand Chabra, medical director, Family Health Services; COVID-19 & Monkeypox - Responding to an Outbreak during a Pandemic: Marc Meulman, MPA, director, Public Health, Policy & Planning

Sep. 20: The Justice System
Judge Danny Chou; District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe; Private Defender Lisa Maguire; Probation Chief John Keene. Short mock trial included.

Sep. 27: Community Services
County Executive Mike Callagy; Public Works: Director Ann Stillman; Libraries: Director of Library Services Anne-Marie DespainLocal Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo)Executive Officer Rob Bartoli

Oct. 4: Human Services Agency 
HSA overview: Ken Cole; Collaborative Community Outcomes: Selina Toy Lee; Economic Self-Sufficiency: Deanna Abrahamian; Employment Services: Jennifer ValenciaChildren and Family Services: John FongHousing: Ken Cole; Q&A with all presenters.

Oct. 11: Countywide Initiatives
Office of Sustainability: Carolyn Bloede, Director; County Equity: Shireen Malekafzali, Chief Equity Officer; Legislative Affairs: Samantha Tucci, Legislative Analyst; Boards and Commissions, including a panel discussion: Connie Juarez-Diroll.

Oct. 18: Sheriff's Office
Sheriff's Office overview and community engagement: Sgt. Javier Acosta; K-9 demonstration 

Oct. 25: All About Money
Treasurer-Tax Collector: Sandie Arnott; Controller's Office: Ngoc Nguyen, Division Manager; Budget and Performance: Robert Manchia, County Chief Financial Officer and Heather Ledesma, Principal Mgmt. Analyst; Assessor - County Clerk - Recorder - Elections: Jim Irizarry, Assistant Assessor - County Clerk - Recorder - Elections

Nov. 1: Final session!
Board of Supervisors President Don Horsley; County Attorney John Nibbelin; Human Resources: Deputy Director Theresa Rabe; Public Safety Communications (9-1-1): Director Natasha Claire-Espino

Questions? Contact Eric Forgaard at