Portrait by Devi Pride Photography.
Jennifer Herrera was born and raised in California with her three sisters, by a family that emigrated from the Philippines. She grew up in a tight-knit family around the Filipino-American communities in Salinas and Bakersfield. This upbringing influenced her personal values of community, kindness, and humility. As she grew up, she saw clear class and racial disparities in her community, which sparked a desire to work in a field that promoted social justice. This desire led her to receive her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of San Francisco and a master’s degree in public health from Emory University.
Jen saw the opportunity for a better world and wanted to be part of it. Before moving to Santa Cruz County, she was a public health nurse case manager in Kern County, providing home visitation and clinical services to many different populations and collaborating with healthcare partners on the local implementation of the Affordable Care Act. With over a decade of experience in the public health field, Jen approaches her work with honest curiosity, an abundance mindset, and an emphasis on the value of collaboration.
Jen is now an assistant director with the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency (HSA). She oversees the county’s COVID-19 public health response and has been tasked to develop a new Equity Office within HSA. Previously, she oversaw HSA’s Public Health division, including the management of evidence-based programs such as the Nurse-Family Partnership and the Syringe Services Program. She recognizes that the success of her work has been dependent on strong collaboration with individuals and organizations. Being part of a collective dedicated to creating healthier communities has brought her much personal fulfillment.
When she’s not working, Jen enjoys dreaming, spending time with family, and enjoying the outdoors. When the pandemic settles down, she looks forward to more karaoke parties.