Securing the Workforce Pipeline from the AUC to U.S. Department HHS



Atlanta – The workforce pipeline with the Atlanta University Center and the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services is coming closer to reality. The Atlanta University Center Consortium hosted Cheryl Campbell, Assistant Secretary of Administration for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services February 21st. Campbell is the first female in this position and the first person of color to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Administration. 

ASA Campbell’s visit included a meeting with leadership of AUCC Member institutions of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College and members of the Atlanta University Center Consortium team to discuss a potential MOU signing with the AUCC’s members institutions and the Department of Health and Human Services.  

“I’m here to talk about how we collectively can make sure the next generation of brain trusts are people that look like us can get into government service,” Cambell said to a room of about 20 individuals from the AUCC team, its member institutions, representatives from the Center for Disease Control, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and various representatives from her office of Health and Human Services. She continued, “HBCUs build the whole person. These are strong men and women who know how to stand up for themselves. This is what you all have created, what you continue to create.” 

“You may have them(MOUs) in pockets, but you don’t have them at the headquarters level and what we’re trying to put together is having MOUs that are sustainable and survivable no matter who is in play,” Campbell said. “It memorializes not only the intent of our organization, but also sets goals and criteria of things that we want to make sure we achieve.” 

Karen Comfort, Deputy Assistant Secretary,  of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Chief Diversity Officer, said several cards are in play to make sure there is groundwork in place for students to begin career pathways in HHS and that the MOU makes a connection for the talent that their after, in paid internships, holding HHS Days on AUCC campuses, sharing grant opportunities with students and finally sharing how student entrepreneurs can learn about accessing small business contracts. 

“The reason I believe the MOUs are important is that it not only memorializes what the intent of our organizations are about, but also sets some goals and criteria and things that we want to make sure we achieve,” Campbell said.   

ASA Campell visited with Morehouse School of Medicine to discuss more exciting opportunities for collaboration and career pathways for AUC students in health. 


To close the day, ASA Campell and AUCC Executive Director Dr. Michael Hodge led a Fireside Chat with students delving further into Campbell’s background in computer science and her career path to where she is today. 

She encouraged students to have not only mentors, but also coaches and advocates on their journey. She answered questions about navigating her career and her personal life and discussed significant moments in her career where truth was her guide. This included sharing an experience of leading a team of over 400 people she worked in private industry,who built a significant part of the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace, an online portal, that faced technical issues during its national rollout.  She shared its challenges, but it instilled in her the need for transparency.

“No matter how difficult that answer is, you have to tell the truth,” she said. “It had nothing to do with our software, our capability, and that’s what I stood on…I felt a real commitment to be there to represent them, Campbell said.

Campbell said as an early adapter of technology she was always underestimated in the rooms she was in, even when she was the senior person. “I always made sure, that they knew who I was, I announced myself into the room and defined my role, she said.  

Atlanta is in Region IV of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, covering AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN, and has the largest concentration of HBCUs than any other area in the country. 

Currently, the HHS office has finalized MOUs with Florida International University (FIU) and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), which were completed in Dec. 2023.   


About the AUCC 

The Atlanta University Center Consortium, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Georgia, formed in 1929 to operate on behalf of its member institutions–Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College—is the world’s oldest and largest association of historically Black colleges and universities. The Consortium is a vibrant intellectual community with a long tradition of scholarship, service, and community engagement. 



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