Who's Who of Professional Women


Barbara Agnell

Barbara Virginia Agnell was inspired to a career in social work early on due to her experiences helping with the care of her disabled brother, James. Furthermore, her mother did volunteer work with children at an orphanage, and a young Ms. Agnell was troubled to hear of the hardships they endured. She never forgot their stories and as she grew older felt compelled to do something to help children in similar circumstances.

In 1988, having completed her studies at California State University, Sacramento, she graduated with a Master of Science in Social Work. Following this, she became a social worker with the Stanford Home for Children, now known as Stanford Youth Solutions, and received licensure as a clinical social worker in 1990. Remaining with the Stanford Home for Children until 1996 and serving as the social work supervisor from 1994 to 1996, she considers this tenure to be a notable part of her career, as here she learned firsthand the value of instilling a sense of hope and reinforcing the strengths of each individual.

With her expertise in working with abused and neglected children, Ms. Agnell joined both the psychiatry department at Kaiser Permanente and Paradise Oaks Youth Services in 1997. She remained active as a social worker and then as the clinical director for Paradise Oaks Youth Services until her retirement in 2015. Outside of her primary career responsibilities, Ms. Agnell has been facilitating a “Faith and Friendship” group for adults with special needs for about 30 years. The group meets weekly for prayer, discussion, and social interaction. For the past 15 years, she also has been active with the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa. Ms. Agnell spends time coordinating their lay order that helps provide food and other services to homeless people in Sacramento, California. In 2000, she received ministry certification from the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.

Attributing much of her success to her perseverance, she notes that her best quality is a desire to help those in need and a willingness to do whatever it takes to assist them. For her excellence, she was recognized as the Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers Sacramento Unit in 2003. Looking toward the future, her goal for the next five years is to donate her time to improving the lives of those who are less fortunate. While she has a particular interest in housing, she remains open to whatever path will allow her opportunities to serve others.

Born in Tampa, Florida, to parents Trudy and Jim, Ms. Agnell has been married to her husband, Bill, “for these many busy years in which he often provides wise counsel and support,” she says. The couple are proud parents of one son, Brian, and devoted grandparents to Jack and Quinn. Ms. Agnell’s family also includes her brother James and her late brother, Bob. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, creative writing, and keeping a watchful eye on those who need her most.


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