HHS Appoints New Director of the Office for Civil Rights

Lisa J. Pino, Director, Office for Civil Rights

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced a successor to Roger Severino has now been appointed, with Lisa J. Pino taking over at the helm of the Office for Civil Rights.

Roger Severino resigned from the position in mid-January after serving for 4 years as OCR Director under the Trump Administration. Attorney Robinsue Frohboese was appointed Acting OCR Director until a replacement was found, a position she has held 4 times during administration transitions.

Pino previously served at the Department of Homeland Security as senior counselor and was responsible for driving the mitigation of the largest ever federal data breach: The 2015 cyberattack on the Office for Personnel Management (OPM) in 2015. The cyberattack saw the records of 4 million federal personnel compromised along with 22 million surrogate profiles. Pino led the effort to renegotiate 700 vendor procurements following the breach and established new cybersecurity regulations to prevent further attacks.

Pino has also served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in several roles, including Deputy Administrator of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. While at the USDA she drafted and championed the department’s first gender identity anti-discrimination program regulation along with the first USDA limited English proficiency guidance. Under Pino’s direction of the department’s outreach and engagement activities, minority farmers were ensured access to benefits awarded through class action settlements.

Pino has also served as a legal aid attorney in the Southwest and worked to protect the rights of migrant farm workers. Most recently, Pino served as the New York State Department of Health’s Executive Deputy Commissioner, which is the second highest executive position in the agency, and in that role led the operational response to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York State and played a key role in many of the state’s health programs.

“Lisa is an exceptional public servant, and I am delighted to welcome her to the role of the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announcing Pino’s appointment. “Her breadth of experience and management expertise, particularly her hand in advancing civil rights regulations and policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) during the Obama-Biden Administration, will help ensure that we protect the rights of every person across the country as we work to build a healthier America.”

Pino has experience in civil rights as an attorney and during her time at the USDA, invaluable cybersecurity and data privacy experience from her time at the DHS, and extensive management experience, which makes her a natural appointment for the position of OCR Director.

She joins OCR at a crucial point, with Privacy Rule changes pending and potential issues with HIPAA enforcement following University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s successful appeal against a $4.3 million civil monetary penalty imposed by OCR for alleged noncompliance in relation to three data breaches.