Debra Herndon was appointed associate director of Female Offender Programs for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Since 2009, she has served as the acting associate director of Female Offender Programs and Services for CDCR.

Previously, Herndon served as warden at Ironwood State Prison from 2007 to 2009, where she previously served as chief deputy warden from 2006 to 2007. Prior to that, Herndon served Centinela State Prison as correctional administrator in 2005, facilities captain from 2004 to 2005 and correctional captain from 2002 to 2003. She served as a supervising correctional counselor at CDCR headquarters from 2000 to 2002. Prior to that, Herndon served Calipatria State Prison as a managing correctional counselor from 1997 to 2000, correctional lieutenant from 1996 to 1997, correctional counselor from 1994 to 1996 and correctional sergeant from 1991 to 1993. She was a correctional officer at Folsom State Prison and the Richard A. McGee Training Facility from 1986 to 1991. From 1983 to 1984, Herndon served as an office assistant at CDCR. Prior to that, she was an office assistant for the State Personnel Board from 1981 to 1983 and the Department of Developmental Services in 1981.