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Probation Department

For Immediate Release

Vanessa Fuchs selected as Chief Probation Officer for County of Sonoma

SANTA ROSA, CA | October 14, 2022

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 25 is expected to confirm the appointment of Vanessa Fuchs as the county’s new Chief Probation Officer. Fuchs, who has been with the Sonoma County Probation Department since 1998, most recently serving as Deputy Chief Probation Officer, was selected following a nationwide search. This appointment is unique in that oversight of the search and hiring process was shared by the Superior Court and the County of Sonoma. Through an agreement with the courts, the joint selection committee was composed of three Sonoma County Superior Court Judges, two County Supervisors, the County Administrator, and the Court Executive Officer.

“We are fortunate to have such a leader in Vanessa Fuchs assume this position,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin. “She has spent her career ensuring community safety, supporting crime victims while also helping offenders rehabilitate through the programs offered.”

“I am proud of the selection of Vanessa Fuchs as our next Chief Probation Officer, and the Court looks forward to working with her and the Probation Department professionals she will lead.” said the Honorable Shelly Averill, Presiding Judge of Sonoma County Superior Court. “The selection of Vanessa is a testament to her commitment and dedication to the role of the Probation Department in the criminal and juvenile justice systems to change lives and protect the public safety of our community.”

During her 24-year career with the Probation Department, Fuchs was the first female supervisor, then director, of the Probation Camp. Fuchs completed the American Probation Parole Association Leadership Academy and was on the team that safely evacuated the Juvenile Hall during the 2017 wildfires, garnering a state award for that action through the California Association of Probation Institution Administrators. Fuchs has led committees responsible for implementing department employee performance evaluations based on specific probation field competencies and was responsible for and implemented Probation’s first Community Engagement team, leading to the department’s rebranding project.

“As the new Probation Chief, Vanessa will continue to build on a solid foundation, seek opportunities to continue to transform the juvenile justice system and adapt to the ever-changing world within the probation system.” said Supervisor David Rabbitt. “Her experience within the department has given her first-hand knowledge of the vision and direction of the Probation Department and its mission.”

“Vanessa will bring a level of knowledge and professionalism that will deliver contemporary and innovative probation services.” said Honorable Judge Ken Gnoss, Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court. “The courts are heartened that the new Probation Chief has worked locally with our courts, so understands the local dynamics and functions of the judicial system, especially when working on rehabilitating the lives of youth in our community.”

The Probation Department is responsible for enhancing community safety, supporting crime victims, and facilitating offender rehabilitation through positive behavior change. The Department relies on evidence-based and evidence-informed practices, which have been scientifically demonstrated to reduce recidivism. Services include intensive supervision and referral to appropriate therapeutic programs, with specialty units for specific populations such as gang members, sex offenders, and mentally ill offenders.

The Chief Probation Officer is a unique position where the appointment is made by the court, per state code, and reports to the Sonoma County Superior Court, but is an employee of the County of Sonoma. The Chief Probation Officer is a County Department Head, who works with County departments, the Board of Supervisors and County executive leadership but also meets regularly with the Presiding Judge, the Supervising Criminal Judge, and the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court.

The Probation Department consists of two major divisions, Adult and Juvenile. The Adult Division includes Adult Probation Services and Supervised Work Crews program areas. The Juvenile Division includes Juvenile Hall, Probation Camp, and Juvenile Probation Services program areas. The Chief will have two Deputy Chief Probation Officers who oversee the adult and juvenile divisions, an Administrative Services Director, and a Research and Program Development Manager.

Adult Probation Services provides court services, community supervision, and referral to appropriate therapeutic services for adult clients. The Juvenile Hall provides temporary, safe, and secure detention for up to 140 youth in need of intensive supervision and rehabilitation in a structured environment. Probation Camp is designed to address anti-social or illegal behavior and thinking patterns in youth, while promoting acceptance of personal responsibility and opportunities for vocational training. Juvenile Probation Services consists of intake and court services, diversion and community-based prevention and early intervention services, as well as community supervision.

“I am deeply honored to have this incredible opportunity of leading the Sonoma County Probation Department and continue its tradition as a recognized leader in the State of California.” said Fuchs. “As I look into the coming years, my vision includes a plan to continue our quality service and support for the Court, uplifting organizational culture and community partnerships, and interrupting cycles in the system that has overwhelmingly incarcerated BIPOC and other marginalized populations.”

The Probation Department has 271 staff members and operates with a $92.4 million budget for the 2022/23 fiscal year. Fuchs will be appointed to her new position on Oct. 25 with an annual salary of $189,865.

For additional information about the Probation Department visit: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/justice-services/probation  

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Media Contact
Sylvia Lemus, Communications Specialist 
publicaffairs@sonoma-county.org 
(707) 565-3040 
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A 
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

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