Civics 101 class photo

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, finances and initiatives. Participants primarily learn from and interact with department heads or their designees about topics such as health, public safety, human services, parks, public finance, sustainability, the justice system and more. Light refreshments are served. See details below!

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 volunteer citizens work to advise the Board of Supervisors and help improve our community! Or, who knows, your civic-mindedness might even spur you to join the remarkable team of dedicated employees that serve our residents!

  • Civics 101 2024 will meet for nine consecutive Wednesday evenings, Sep. 4 through Oct. 30, from 6 - 8:30 p.m. 

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


Please find the application at the bottom of this page. If you have questions, please contact program host Eric Forgaard at

Last year's content, for reference only. 2024 content will be similar:

San Mateo County Government Overview 
County Executive Mike Callagy; County overviewchief communications officer Michelle Durand; Emergency Management: director Don Mattei

San Mateo County Health
Marc Meulman, interim deputy chief, San Mateo County Health; Yousef Turshani, chief medical officer, San Mateo Medical Center; Nina Rhee, deputy director, Aging and Adult Services; Dyshun Beshears, adult protective services supervisor, Aging and Adult Services

Community Services
Public Works: director Ann Stillman; Libraries: deputy director of library services Danae Ramirez; 9-1-1 Dispatch: public safety communications director Natasha Claire-Espino; 
Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo): executive officer Rob Bartoli

Human Services
HSA overview: director Claire Cunningham; Collaborative Community Outcomes: Selina Toy Lee; Economic Self-Sufficiency: Navjeet SinghEmployment Services: Jennifer ValenciaChildren and Family Services: John FongHousing: director Ray Hodges; Q&A with all presenters

All About Money
Treasurer-Tax Collector: Sandie Arnott; Controller's OfficeJuan Raigoza, Controller; Budget and Performance: Robert Manchia, County Chief Financial Officer and Heather Ledesma, Principal Management Analyst; Assessor - County Clerk - Recorder - Elections: Jim Irizarry, Assistant Assessor - County Clerk - Recorder - Elections

Countywide Initiatives
Boards and Commissions, including a panel discussion: SMC chief legislative officer Connie Juarez-Diroll; County Equity: chief equity officer Shireen Malekafzali; Office of Sustainability: director Carolyn Bloede;

Sheriff's Office
Overview and community engagement: Sgt. Javier Acosta; K-9 demonstration, Sheriff's Deputies; Coroner's Office: Coroner Robert Foucrault.

A Saturday morning:
Optional hike on Edgewood Trail at Edgewood Park in Redwood City. DO NOT MEET INSIDE THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO EDGEWOOD PARK!!! Instead we'll meet at the Edgewood Trailhead, which is on Edgewood Road west of Hwy 280, near where Edgewood Rd. dead-ends at Canada Rd. Parking is available near the trailhead on a small dirt lot or along the side of Edgewood Rd.  

Justice System
Judge TBDDistrict Attorney Steve WagstaffePrivate Defender Lisa MaguireProbation Chief John Keene. Short mock trial included!

Final session!
Board of Supervisors: Legislative Aide Randy Torrijos; County Attorney John Nibbelin; Human Resources: deputy director Theresa Rabe.

Questions? Contact Eric Forgaard at