Jennifer Cannistra

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy

Jennifer Cannistra joined the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at HHS as the deputy assistant secretary for policy in February 2021.

Before joining the Biden Administration, Cannistra led several cross-functional health and human services offices at the federal and state level.  Immediately before joining ACF, she was the deputy administrator for strategy and performance of the Family Services Administration at the DC Department of Human Services, where she led a team supporting the agency’s mission of providing protection, intervention and social services to meet the needs of vulnerable adults and families.  She also previously served as the director of the Systems Transformation Administration at the DC Department of Behavioral Health, which oversees Washington, DC’s public behavioral health system and provides prevention, intervention and treatment services for children and adults.

Before that, Cannistra served for eight years in the Obama Administration.  From 2014-2017, she was the principal deputy assistant secretary in HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.  She also co-chaired the Administration’s working group to end youth homelessness.  From 2011-2014, she served as the HHS Executive Secretary, leading an office that manages the development, clearance and submission of regulatory and policy documents to the HHS secretary.  From 2009-2011, Cannistra worked on the Affordable Care Act, first at the White House and then as part of the HHS Office of Health Reform. 

Cannistra received her B.A. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, her M.S. from Oxford University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.