Who's Who of Professional Women


Barbara AgnellBarbara Virginia Agnell was inspired to a career in social work early on due to her experiences taking care of her disabled younger brother. Furthermore, her mother did considerable volunteer work with children at orphanages, and a young Ms. Agnell was horrified to learn about the situations that some of those children were coming from. Developing early experience as an instructional assistant in the San Juan Unified School District from 1977 to 1980, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in social welfare from California State University, Sacramento, in 1982 and joined the Eskaton-American River Manor as a counselor from 1982 to 1986. During this time, Ms. Agnell also served as a mental health worker for California Health Care Consultants from 1985 to 1986.

From 1986 to 1987, Ms. Agnell was a social work intern with Capital People First, Inc. and the Sacramento County Department of Health and Social Services. In 1988, having continued her studies at California State University, Sacramento, she graduated with a master’s degree in social work. Following this, she became a social worker with the Stanford Home for Children, now known as Stanford Youth Solutions, in 1988 and received licensure as a clinical social worker in 1990. Remaining with the Stanford Home until 1996, and also serving as a social work supervisor from 1994 to 1996, Ms. Agnell considers this tenure to be her most notable accomplishment in her career, because of the strong emphasis that Stanford Homes placed on taking care of the children and making a home for them over providing a service as a business.

With considerable expertise in working with abused and neglected children, Ms. Agnell joined both Kaiser Permanente and Paradise Oaks Youth Services in 1997. A psychiatric social worker with Kaiser Permanente for just one year, she remained active as the clinical director for Paradise Oaks until her retirement in 2015. Throughout her time in this position, she was responsible for writing and looking over other people’s reports; doing one-on-one and group supervision; participating in school meetings; and attending meetings with psychiatrists. Ms. Agnell is incredibly proud to have served as a clinical director while also working part-time in private practice and serving as an on-call therapist with the Kaiser Permanente emergency room.

Outside of her primary career responsibilities, Ms. Agnell has been running a discussion group for women with special needs for roughly 30 years. They meet weekly to talk about anything and everything that has been going on for them. She is also active with the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a group originally founded by Mother Teresa, and spent time coordinating the Lay Missionaries of Charity as well. She has been involved with the group, helping homeless and mentally ill individuals, for the past 15 years. In 2000, Ms. Agnell received ministry certification from the Diocese of Sacramento.

Attributing much of her success to her perseverance, Ms. Agnell notes that her best quality is that she doesn’t give up easily. She puts her whole heart into what she does and believes that her stubbornness and tenacity have been her greatest tools for success. For her excellence, she was recognized as the Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers in 2003. Looking toward the future, Ms. Agnell’s goal for the next five years is to contribute more to efforts that seek to improve the lives of disadvantaged and marginalized people. While she has a particular interest in housing, she remains open to whatever path will lead to her being able to contribute to the health and welfare of others.

Born in Tampa, Florida, to parents Jim and Gertrude, Ms. Agnell has been married to her husband, William, also known as Bill, for many happy years. Together they are the proud parents of one son, Brian, and doting grandparents to two grandchildren, Jack and Quinn. Ms. Agnell’s family also includes her brother, James, and her late brother, Robert. In her free time, she enjoys cultivating her hobbies of reading and writing out her thoughts and dreams.


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