Alec Stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director
Image courtesy of

Washington, DC, and the larger federal government are filled with dedicated professionals who toil quietly, often anonymously, in support of programs, initiatives, and agency work in service of the American public.

Such is true for the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) lesser-known leaders like Admiral Brett Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health, who reflected on his time at HHS as he helped guide the department’s efforts in public health.

Giroir is the 16th assistant secretary of health to carry the mantle. His programs support a number of the nation’s health initiatives, including addressing HIV diagnoses in disparate communities, updating physical activity guidelines for Americans, and providing pain management best practices in the face of a national opioid epidemic.

“Our legacy is storied, but to improve our ability to impact public health in the future, we are in the process of modernizing our service to enhance our capabilities, responsiveness and focus,” Giroir said in his statement. “I am working to ensure that our primary focus is leading America to healthier lives, especially for those who are most vulnerable, including those who have suffered historic disparities.”

Giroir also serves as HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s senior advisor to opioid policy, offering support to develop strategies to combat substance abuse disorders, fund new research, advance evidence-based interventions, and create new use guidelines. His work also illuminates victims of the opioid epidemic, shedding light on the growing problem.