Dawn O’Connell, Assistant HHS Secretary for Preparedness and Response

Dawn O’Connell

Assistant HHS Secretary for Preparedness and Response

Dawn O’Connell earned an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and received a Juris Doctor from Tulane University School of Law. 

During President Obama’s administration, she served as a senior counselor to Secretary Sylvia Burwell and was deputy chief of staff to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

In 2017, she became the Director of the U. S. Office for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, a global partnership to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. She has served as the senior counselor to Secretary Becerra for COVID-19 since February 2021. 

In June 2021, O’Connell was named Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), having been confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote. 

She is married to Ben O’Connell and has two daughters. 

In the News…

President Biden’s administration and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced a reorganization within the Health Department to create an independent pandemic division. It will focus exclusively on the nation’s response to pandemics and health emergencies. 

The move will see the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, better known as ASPR, split into separate divisions. 

The head of ASPR wrote in a memo to staffers, “These changes are complementary to the broader ASPR reorganization, which we will begin implementing in the second half of the year. While the name change is immediate, enhanced capacity in hiring and contracting will be made over a period of time to ensure a seamless and graduate transition on key responsibilities from the Assistant Secretary for Administration to our ASPR team.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has disagreed with ASPR in the past pertaining to COVID-19 pandemic decisions, said the agency is supportive of O’Connell’s vision, referring to her as a “critical partner for us in addressing public health threats.” 

Contact this Leader…

Did you pray for Assistant Secretary O’Connell? You can let her know at:

The Honorable Dawn O’Connell 
Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response 
Department of Health and Human Services 
200 Independence Ave SW 
Washington, DC 20101 


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