Celebrating Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

After 43 years at HHS, half at NIH and half at the Department, our Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Bill Hall, is retiring.

As I always say, Bill is not a staff member of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, he is an HHS institution. He has left a great legacy at HHS: he shaped the way the Department communicates while serving under the leadership of 13 secretaries and 8 administrations.

He is a household name to many in the field of public health, here in DC and around the world, where he has helped us establish international links that have been instrumental in our response to global health issues ranging from Zika, Ebola, H1N1 and West Nile. Viruses and SARS up to COVID-19 in recent years.

As an excellent communicator, he has honed the ability to synthesize complex scientific concepts into more digestible messages for the public and the media. But he doesn’t just distill complex scientific concepts, he understands them and can (and often has) act as an adviser to HHS secretaries and other senior leaders throughout the Department.

Bill began his career as a part-time student employee at NIH and stayed there for 18 years, rising through the ranks. He had started in school studying to be a doctor but fell in love with communications working at his school’s radio station. At HHS, he was able to combine his love for science and biology with his passion for communication.

He has spent the remainder of his time at HHS on our Public Affairs team in the Secretary’s Office, where he has been able to advise secretaries on emergency response and crisis communications to keep people safe.

Bill was deployed to New York after 9/11, where he served as a spokesperson for HHS as teams were deployed to provide mental health, family unification, and other supports and services. He even sent a team of vets to help search and rescue countless pets.

From there, Bill continued to lead the way in emergency response and crisis communications, championing the importance of communications in health emergencies, often serving as our first line of defense along with treatments and vaccines, we have a responsibility to inform people how to keep themselves and others safe. Bill’s career has been a testament to how public health communications can save lives.

When the Global Health Security Initiative was established, Bill contacted a friend at the Canadian Ministry of Health to form a communications working group of the G7, EU and World Health Organization health ministries. This group became a central pillar of the initiative, and Bill went on to lead hands-on exercises for ministers of health from around the world as they gathered for these meetings.

Bill perfectly sums up the meaningful work we do every day here at HHS and why we do it. When he is asked why he has enjoyed working at Health and Human Services for so long, he likes to say “because ‘human’ is in the name.”

So I wanted to take a moment and write a little bit about Bill and the legacy he’s leaving behind – it’s part of history. Stories like hers humanize the work we do and show what it looks like when we have professionals who take a people-first approach to work.

Bill, thank you for your tireless work on behalf of the American people, and congratulations on making your mark at HHS.

We wish you a very happy retirement.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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