Acting ORO Director & Regional Administrator, Region 2
Joyce A. Thomas is the Acting ORO Director & Regional Administrator for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in Region 2. The Region includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Tribal Nations. In this capacity, Ms. Thomas partners with state, local, community based organizations and tribes within the Region to promote economic independence and healthy development of children and families. From January 2018-February 2019, Ms Thomas also served as the Acting Director for the ACF Office of Regional Operations (ORO). As Acting Director, Ms. Thomas served as principal advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families regarding field operations and provided executive leadership and direction to ACF’s ten regional offices.
Ms. Thomas is a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and provides executive leadership and direction to ensure coordination and integration of activities among Head Start, child care, foster care and adoption, child support enforcement, youth services and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs.
Under Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery, ACF Region 2 partners with FEMA, state government, grantees and Tribes to ensure coordination of essential Human Services programs during disasters. Ms. Thomas has played pivotal roles in coordinating the on-ground responses to Hurricane Irene (2011) and Superstorm Sandy (2012 and continuing), the largest in the Atlantic Ocean in terms of size and the second costliest hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States. She was the recipient of the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families’ 2012 Exemplary Leadership Award for her work concerning Hurricane Irene. In October 2013, Ms. Thomas was recognized for “Exceptional Leadership and Performance Excellence” associated with the Superstorm Sandy Response and Recovery Mission. In May 2014, the Fathers and Families Coalition of America presented Ms. Thomas with The President’s Call to Service Award, which is administered by The President's Council on Service and Civic Participation within the Corporation for National and Community Service. On behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Ms. Thomas chaired the Regional Interagency Council on Homelessness from September 2016-January 2018.
Ms. Thomas previously served as the Regional Administrator for ACF’s Region 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and thirty-five Tribal Nations. While Region 5 Administrator, Ms. Thomas also led the federal regional Interagency Council on Homelessness. Formerly, Ms. Thomas served as National Lead ACF Regional Administrator for the Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership Initiative and National Lead RA for Emergency Preparedness and Response. She was one of the founders and co-chairs of ACF’s African American Healthy Marriage Initiative.
Prior to her employment with the Administration for Children and Families, Ms. Thomas served as the Commissioner of the State of Connecticut’s Department of Social Services. As Commissioner, she implemented major changes in the child support enforcement, TANF and Medicaid programs and played a major role in the creation of Connecticut’s innovative School Readiness legislation.
A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Thomas was awarded a BA in Social Work and an MA in counseling, with a minor in Spanish.
Thomas has one daughter. She is also the proud grandmother of two.