Lisa Pino, Director, Office for Civil Rights, Health & Human Services

Lisa Pino

Director, Office for Civil Rights, Health & Human Services

Lisa Pino is a native of New York City. She earned a B.A., M.A., and J.D. at Arizona  State University, and was a National Hispana Leadership Institute Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School leadership program. She is an alumna of the AmeriCorps program and worked as a legal aid attorney in the Southwest. 

During President Obama’s administration, she worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as Deputy Administrator of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and USDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. She was appointed by President Obama to serve the U.S. Department of Homeland Security where she was Senior Counselor. 

Pino served as the New York State Department of Health’s Executive Deputy Commissioner and led New York’s operational response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She has been named as Director of the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for President Biden’s administration. 

In the News…

A memo from its Office of Civil Rights to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra reveals plans to reverse President Trump’s administration delegation that allows that office to investigate religious freedom complaints. Director of the Civil Rights Office (OCR), Lisa Pino, believes the policy acts as “a sword to impose religious beliefs on others.” 

In the memo, Director Pino expresses support for reversing a practice implemented in late 2017 that delegated to OCR broad authority to enforce violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). 

“Prior to the delegation in 2017, no division was singularly responsible for the Department’s compliance with RFRA or the First Amendment,” she wrote in the memo. “That model recognized that all components of HHS had a responsibility for compliance and that OGC [Office of General Counsel] was a central partner in providing key legal advice on RFRA and defending the Department when RFRA claims were raised.”  

Specifically, the delegation gave the OCR director the authority to “accept and investigate complaints filed by individuals or entities alleging a failure by any departmental component to comply with RFRA, … conduct RFRA compliance reviews of departmental programs or activities, … provide technical assistance to departmental components regarding RFRA compliance, … evaluate the effectiveness of RFRA complaint processing by RFRA and provide reports to appropriate oversight organizations.”  

“While the Department will need to continue to comply with RFRA, removing this delegation demonstrates our belief that RFRA is meant to be a shield to protect the freedom of religion, not a sword to impose religious beliefs on others without regard for third party harms, including civil rights,” she wrote.  

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Director Pino today? You can let her know at:

Ms. Lisa Pino, Director 
Office for Civil Rights 
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services 
200 Independence Ave SW 
Washington, DC 20201 


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