Joyce A. Thomas serves as the Acting Director for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Regional Operations (ORO). In this capacity, Ms. Thomas is the principal advisor to the Assistant Secretary regarding field operations. Ms. Thomas provides executive leadership and direction to ACF’s ten regional offices. Ms. Thomas prioritizes the integration and coordination of ACF human services reforms to create multi-generational strategies and opportunities to improve economic mobility for families. Ms. Thomas supports state and locally-driven efforts, reforms, and innovations to address intergenerational poverty and the needs of low-income, vulnerable children and their families. Under Ms. Thomas’ leadership, ORO is focusing its efforts on achieving results.
Ms. Thomas is a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) who ensures cross-collaboration among Head Start, child care, foster care and adoption, child support enforcement, youth services and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs. Ms. Thomas has played pivotal roles in coordinating the on-ground responses to Hurricane Irene (2011), Superstorm Sandy (2012) and Hurricanes Irma and Maria (2017 and continuing).
Ms. Thomas also serves as the Regional Administrator for ACF Region 2, a position she has held since 2008. Region 2 includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Tribal Nations. On behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Ms. Thomas chairs the Region 2 Regional Interagency Council on Homelessness. Previously, Ms. Thomas 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. Ms. Thomas was National Lead ACF Regional Administrator for the Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership Initiative. 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.