Cancian appointed deputy assistant secretary for policy at U.S. Administration for Children and Families

May 6, 2015

MADISON—Maria Cancian, University of Wisconsin–Madison professor, associate dean, and former Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) director, was recently appointed as the deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

President Obama nominated Cancian to serve as ACF assistant secretary in February 2014, but the Senate did not complete action on her nomination. She was renominated on February 5, 2015, and the nomination remains pending.

"Maria's appointment to a national policy role at ACF speaks to her decades of research, policy, and administrative experience aimed at improving the well-being of children and families. She is an extraordinary scholar who has gone outside the confines of academe to better understand policy and practice and thereby improve the role of evidence in informing family-focused initiatives," says IRP Director Lawrence Berger.

Cancian entered DHHS as senior advisor to the secretary in January of this year, and since that time she has worked with ACF and other divisions on a range of issues, with particular attention to interoperability, systems integration efforts, and issues relating to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act that have particular relevance to human services programs. She has also provided counsel and advice on numerous other issues relating to ACF programs during this time.

"Over the last several months, it has become clear that ACF would benefit by Maria playing a larger and more formalized role in her work here, and I have asked her to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, with responsibilities for cross-program coordination and strengthening ACF management," Acting ACF Assistant Secretary Mark Greenberg noted in his announcement on April 29.

"An economist by training, Maria's knowledge of ACF programs is grounded in her academic research, and decades of program evaluation and technical assistance at the federal, state, and local levels. She also brings administrative experience as Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty, Associate Dean for Social Sciences, and Associate Dean for Fiscal Initiatives, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison," the announcement says.


—Deborah Johnson,, (608) 262-7779