After 32 years at HHS, and 38 years in the federal government, our photographer Chris Smith is retiring. I can speak for our whole HHS team when I say we’re going to miss seeing him around with his camera, and we’ll miss his presence.
He’s a well-known name around here, known throughout our building and across the federal government.
In three decades, he’s captured history and helped tell our story to the nation. He did more than just create extraordinary images; he helped us document who we are as people, and who we are as a Department.
Because it's not just the work we do, it's the people that do the work. And thanks to his keen eye, we have an unparalleled record of what the people who've been part of HHS have done for America over the last 32 years.
Chris started at HHS in September 1990 and has served under six administrations and photographed nine HHS Secretaries. Before that, he got his introduction to the federal government at the U.S. Department of the Treasury where he worked under another trailblazer and early Black photographer in the federal government.
Chris’s father and father-in-law were both Tuskegee Airmen and his father became a fireman in D.C., Chris’s hometown. Chris attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts and discovered his love of photography through a summer youth program and by playing around in his father’s dark room.
His work is featured in the Smithsonian—this picture he took of buttons and lapel pins in support of our work to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Chris has also taken countless headshots, including my own, and four of his Secretary portraits currently hang in the Great Hall where they will stay, enshrined in history.
That’s why I wanted to take a moment and write a little about Chris, his life, and his work – it’s a part of history. History flows through us, and we become it. It is something worth celebrating, and something worth preserving for future generations.
Chris, thank you for preserving our history and congratulations on leaving your mark at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
We wish you a very happy retirement.