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Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Jocelyn Samuels,
Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Jocelyn Samuels is the Director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, where she leads that Office’s  work to enforce federal laws that help to ensure non-discrimination and equity in federally funded health and human services.  She also spearheads enforcement of federal laws that protect the privacy and security of medical information and the rights of individuals to their health records.

Ms. Samuels was previously the Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Justice, where she managed the operations of the Civil Rights Division.  Highlights of her tenure included leading the Division in landmark efforts to protect the right of citizens to access the franchise under the Voting Rights Act of 1965; advancing systemic reform of city police departments across the country; working to provide individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to live and work in their communities; promoting student diversity; overseeing the prosecution of hate crimes under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and preventing housing, lending, and employment discrimination.   

Ms. Samuels also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights from 2011 until 2013 and as Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General from 2009 to 2011.  Prior to her tenure at the Department of Justice, Ms. Samuels was the Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C.  Her prior experience also includes work as a Labor Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, then Ranking Member and subsequently Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and as a senior policy attorney at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  Ms. Samuels has additional experience in the private sector and as a law clerk to a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  She is an experienced litigator with an extensive knowledge of civil rights legislation and a passionate advocate for the rights of the underserved.

Ms. Samuels received her law degree from Columbia University, where she was a Notes Editor of the Law Review, and her bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College, where she graduated magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.


Content last reviewed on September 2, 2014

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