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Jocelyn Samuels, Vice Chair

Jocelyn Samuels was designated by President Biden as Vice Chair of the EEOC on Jan. 20, 2021.  She joined the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as a Commissioner on October 14, 2020. 

Immediately prior to joining the Commission, she served as the Executive Director and Roberta A. Conroy Scholar of Law at the Williams Institute, focusing on legal strategies to attain equality for sexual and gender minorities.  From July 2014 through January 2017, Vice Chair Samuels was the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, where she oversaw civil rights enforcement with respect to hospitals, healthcare providers, insurers, and human services agencies. In that role, she spearheaded development of regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act—the first broad-based federal law to prohibit sex discrimination in federally-funded healthcare.  Those regulations represented a groundbreaking development for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, protecting LGBT persons from discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity.

Earlier in the Obama Administration, Vice Chair Samuels served as Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, and held other positions as a political appointee within the department.  There, she directly supervised litigation combating discrimination in employment and education and oversaw work across a range of civil rights issues, including voting rights, systemic reform of police departments, prosecution of hate crimes, and protections for individuals with disabilities.  Samuels managed the Justice Department’s efforts to extend Title VII and Title IX protections against sex discrimination to LGBT people, and oversaw the Civil Rights Division’s work to implement United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision striking down sections of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Vice Chair Samuels served as the Vice President for Education & Employment at the National Women’s Law Center, where she led efforts to promote gender equality.  Among other accomplishments there, she spearheaded the campaign that led to enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill signed into law by President Obama.  Samuels previously served as Labor Counsel to Senator Ted Kennedy, and spent ten years as a senior policy attorney at the EEOC.

Samuels earned her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Middlebury College. She is a graduate of Columbia University Law School where she was Note Editor for The Columbia Law Review and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.   

She is married with two grown daughters and two dogs.

Photo of Vice Chair Samuels