Dena Murphy

Director of Kern County, Department of Human Services
Region 4 JPA Board Member


100 E. California Ave.
Bakersfield, CA 93307

Professional Experience

Dena Murphy has 25 years of administrative experience with the Department of Human Services where she now serves as Director. She oversees in excess of a $480 million budget and more than 1765 employees who provide Child Protective Services, Family Reunification, Foster Care, Adoptions, Family Stabilization, CalWORKs, Cal-Learn and other social services. Before becoming Director, she served as Chief Deputy Director, 6 years, and as Assistant Director, 7 years. In her early assignment with the Department, she was the CalWORKs Development Director leading design and implementation of Welfare Reform for Kern. Throughout her career, Ms. Murphy has led collaborative efforts forming numerous partnerships with businesses, non-profit groups, schools, faith-based organizations and others to provide vital and innovative services to the vulnerable and our community.

Prior to her employment with Kern, Ms. Murphy spent 13 years in private sector appointments which included: managing operations in the Western United States for Bowman Distribution, a fortune 500 company; manager for the Dayton-Hudson Corporation; and Purchasing for Kern Radiology. Her call to public service was to facilitate individuals having the dignity of a job. Once she worked with the people, it opened opportunities for her to effect additional, meaningful change Department wide and County wide.


Dena holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Administration and Marketing Management from California State University, Bakersfield. As an advocate for continuous learning, she includes and offers extensive coursework to management and staff.


Dena has a beautiful daughter who is married with children of her own. Her three delightful granddaughters and animals keep her life brimming with activity and joy.


Dena serves on numerous community and statewide committees including First 5 Kern; Kern County Children and Families Commission; Resilient Kern; Kern County Network for Children; and Kern Partnership for Children and Families. She supports and assists many local education, non-profit and faith based organizations focused on improving the lives and opportunities in our community.


Professional organizations

  • First 5 Kern
  • Kern County Children and Families Commission