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March 8, 2005

For More Information, Contact:
Hema Sareen Mohan at (650) 688-6384


PALO ALTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that Betsy McCarty, recently retired Chief of Public Health for Santa Cruz County, has been named the 11th Senate District’s Woman of the Year.  She was chosen because of the leadership and commitment she has shown in her 32 years at the Health Services Agency.

“Betsy has been a determined voice for the health and well being of Santa Cruz County residents.  She is a passionate advocate and an inspiring leader for causes that are rarely given the attention they deserve.  For Betsy, public service has been a privilege, but it has been our good fortune to have her as an advocate,” Simitian said.

“My family and I are thrilled and deeply honored.  I feel very humbled,” McCarty said after she received the phone call from Senator Simitian.  “I believe that this recognition of my work also reflects our region’s commitment to public health.” 

McCarty began her career as a hospital nurse but soon became interested in the larger issues facing healthcare.  “I always thought, what happens when they get home?”  That question led her to a career with the county health department, first as a public health


nurse and most recently as the Chief of Public Health. 

McCarty has advocated for myriad health issues including reproductive choice, family planning, tobacco-free workplaces, childhood vaccinations, and the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.  She also led the effort to increase county preparedness in the event of a catastrophe and worked to improve the effectiveness of the County’s Child Death Prevention Team, a group of health officials, police, and prosecutors who review every child death to see if there was a failure in the system. 

“Betsy McCarty is a woman truly committed to the well-being of her community.  Santa Cruz County has benefited greatly from her extraordinary energy, intelligence and dedication,” said Ellen Pirie, Santa Cruz County Supervisor and member of the County Mental Health Advisory Board.
An Arkansas native, McCarty moved to California in the 1960s to pursue a Masters Degree in nursing at San Jose State University. She is the mother of three children and grandmother of seven.  During her retirement she plans to spend time with her family and read more.  McCarty will be honored in a formal ceremony on the floor of the State Senate on March 14 at 10:00 AM.  A small reception will follow at the California State Museum.



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