Dr. Kimiko Vang has served as Director of the Behavioral Health & Recovery Services (BHRS) Department and Public Guardian/Conservator of Merced County since January 30, 2023. Under her leadership, BHRS provides quality, culturally responsive behavioral health services to residents in Merced County that support treatment, recovery, and wellness. BHRS does so in collaboration with a network of community partners, and with the unique needs of our community in mind. BHRS is people-centered, inclusive and driven by best practices.
Dr. Vang’s career spans over 20 years in the behavioral health. She started her career in public service with Stanislaus County Community Service Agency as a social worker in child welfare. In this role, she worked with families in addressing underlying issues such as mental illness, substance use and domestic violence that posed safety and risk issues to vulnerable children. In 2008, Dr. Vang joined Merced County where she has held leadership roles as supervising social worker and program administrator at the Human Services Agency (HSA). In 2015, Dr. Vang was appointed Deputy Director at Human Services Agency where she was responsible for the daily operations and strategic planning of social services programs with purpose to strengthen individuals and families, address behavioral health and drug and alcohol issues, and homelessness with the goal of employment toward self-sufficiency. She also led the strategic direction of the Staff Development program by identifying trending industry practices and obtaining relevant training to upscale and continue building capacity of the largest department in the county. Additionally, Dr. Vang provided oversight to the County Veterans Services Office with the mission to serve veterans in our county. A focus of her leadership engagement, Dr. Vang employs a community-based, culturally responsive, and collaborative approach in addressing issues and providing tailored services to our community.
With a commitment to individuals’ recovery and wellness, Dr. Vang ‘s clinical experience includes providing mental health services to adults and children with a history of sexual abuse, children victims of crimes, and individuals suffering from trauma. She strongly believes in capacity building in order to adequately serve our community and has provided clinical supervision to staff working towards licensure. Dr. Vang regularly highlights the outstanding work accomplished in Merced County at local, state, and national conferences. In late 2019, Dr. Vang had the privilege to partner with BHRS and HSA staff to present on a culturally relevant multi-system behavioral health collaborative model and best practices at the Valley API Mental Health Conference in Fresno. Dr. Vang also teaches part-time in the Master of Social Work program at CSU Stanislaus.
Dr. Vang is highly committed to Merced County which she has called home for more than 30 years. She is a proud alumna of Merced High School and Merced College. Dr. Vang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology with a minor in ethnic studies, and a Master of Social Work from California State University, Stanislaus. She also earned a Doctor of Social Work degree
from the University of Southern California. Dr. Vang is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
As a first-generation college graduate, Dr. Vang is grateful for the educational opportunities that were available to her in Merced and the Central Valley, leading her to a career in public service. Dr. Vang had a humble beginning, having been born in a refugee camp in Thailand. As an infant, she and her parents immigrated to France where she grew up in a diverse community in the suburb of Paris. When she was an adolescent, her family immigrated to Merced where their new life was etched with resilience and purpose. Dr. Vang owes her strong work ethics and commitment to public service to her parents and family. She is very engaged in the community and has served on several local non-profit boards. As a Hmong American woman, Dr. Vang supports projects and organizations highlighting women and the Southeast Asian community in her spare time. Dr. Vang lives with her husband and son in Merced County where they enjoy spending time with family and friends.