The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday appointed Vanessa Christman to the position of County Librarian and John H. Ford as the Director of the Planning & Building Department.
Christman brings experience as a former library director and administrator with a strong record of leadership and innovation. Her experience ranges from managing rural California libraries to an administrative position in the largest county library system in the country. A graduate of UC San Diego and Drexel University where she earned her Master’s Degree, Christman has helped manage a staff of more than 250, worked on significant infrastructure and capital projects, and served on system- and county-wide committees on issues from leadership development to homelessness. She was recently elected to the Board of the California Library Association.
As County Librarian, Christman will be responsible for developing library policy, programs and budget. She will also meet with community groups and volunteer organizations regarding library services, as well as planning and directing outreach programs for the library.
“I’m so impressed with the vibrancy of the communities that the Humboldt County Library serves, and I see my role as helping to shape local libraries into becoming the best reflections of their communities and customers,” said Christman. “I’m excited to get started, and look forward to working with and learning from library staff, friends, foundation members and community members.”
Ford comes from the County of Monterey and has nearly 20 years of experience as a planner in California in the public and private sectors. He has been involved in all phases of land use, long-range planning and permitting, successfully processing complicated projects that require extensive environmental review and involve interests from diverse groups of stakeholders. Ford attended Humboldt State University and UC Santa Barbara, earning degrees in Geography and Environmental Studies.
As Director of Planning & Building, Ford will work closely with the Board, Planning Commission and the community at large. Land Use considerations are an essential focus for the position, with the most visible challenge coming from implementing the recently approved Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance. Another critical effort is completion of the General Plan Update.
“I am excited to be returning to Humboldt County,” said Ford. “I love the place and the people, and look forward to working with the entire community.”
Both Christman and Ford are scheduled to begin their appointments on Oct. 31. Christman will take over for Victor Zazueta, who has been with the Library since 2007. Former Planning & Building Director Kevin Hamblin will serve as interim director until Ford begins. Rob Wall, who served as interim Director of Planning & Building after Hamblin’s retirement in November 2015, did not seek employment for the permanent director position and will return to his normal duties as Supervising Planner.
“Our Board is happy to welcome both John and Vanessa to Humboldt County. We had a number of well-qualified applicants for both positions, but John and Vanessa rose to the top. Our thanks to everyone who applied,” said Mark Lovelace, 3rd District Supervisor and Chair of the Board. “We also wish to thank outgoing County Librarian Victor Zazueta for his years of service, and Rob Wall for filling in during this lengthy recruitment process. Lastly, we welcome back former Director Kevin Hamblin, who is coming back to fill the role during this time of transition.”
Photo of County Librarian Vanessa Christman
Photo of Planning & Building Director John H. Ford