WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Dawn O’Connell to serve as Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Department of Health and Human Services.

Dawn O’Connell, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Department of Health and Human Services.

Dawn O’Connell is currently the Senior Counselor to the Secretary for COVID-19. In this role, she coordinates the Department-wide response to the pandemic. Prior to assuming this role, Dawn served on the Biden Transition Team as the health cluster lead for the Nominations Team. She was also the Director of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation’s (CEPI) US Office.  As director she was responsible for managing the broad spectrum of CEPI’s US and North American interests including its relationships with US and North American-based stakeholders, government entities, and industry partners.  She also served as the executive director for CEPI’s Joint Coordination Group—a roundtable of institutional partners who all have a vested interest in the successful development and deployment of epidemic vaccines.

Prior to joining CEPI in June 2017, she was a Senior Counselor to Secretary Sylvia Burwell at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the Obama Administration. As Senior Counselor, O’Connell advised Secretary Burwell on high-priority global health and humanitarian issues, including infectious diseases, unaccompanied children, and refugees. She worked with HHS leaders, the White House, and other federal and international partners, to resolve key policy challenges, lead implementation, and drive progress toward Administration goals. O’Connell received her undergraduate degree in literature from Vanderbilt University and her law degree from Tulane University School of Law. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two daughters.


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