Princeton in Washington: A conversation with Jennifer Cannistra '01 & Larry Handerhan *12

Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Graduate Students
Undergraduate Students

Headshots of alumni from bios below

Jennifer Cannistra '01 and Larry Handerhan *12 will talk about their careers in policy, their work in the Biden administration and how they approach their jobs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Princeton in Washington (PIW) program brings students, alumni and experts together for exclusive events, to foster connections and provide opportunities to learn about alumni career paths. This summer, all events will be virtual. 

This event is open to all current Princeton undergraduates and graduate students. 

Email Satomi Chudasama ( to request accommodations for this event at least 15 working days in advance.

Alumni bios 

Jennifer Cannistra, '01 Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Administration for Children and Families at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 

Jennifer Cannistra joined the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at HHS as the deputy assistant secretary for policy in February 2021. Before joining the Biden Administration, Cannistra led several cross-functional health and human services offices at the federal and state level.  Immediately before joining ACF, she was the deputy administrator for strategy and performance of the Family Services Administration at the DC Department of Human Services, where she led a team supporting the agency’s mission of providing protection, intervention and social services to meet the needs of vulnerable adults and families.  She also previously served as the director of the Systems Transformation Administration at the DC Department of Behavioral Health, which oversees Washington, DC’s public behavioral health system and provides prevention, intervention and treatment services for children and adults.

Before that, Cannistra served for eight years in the Obama Administration.  From 2014-2017, she was the principal deputy assistant secretary in HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.  She also co-chaired the Administration’s working group to end youth homelessness.  From 2011-2014, she served as the HHS Executive Secretary, leading an office that manages the development, clearance and submission of regulatory and policy documents to the HHS secretary.  From 2009-2011, Cannistra worked on the Affordable Care Act, first at the White House and then as part of the HHS Office of Health Reform.  Cannistra received her B.A. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, her M.S. from Oxford University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Larry Handerhan, *12 Chief of Staff, Administration for Children and Families at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Larry Handerhan joined the Administration for Children and Families as chief of staff and senior advisor in January 2021. Prior to his position at ACF in the Biden Administration, Larry was chief of staff for the D.C. Department of Human Services, an agency responsible for administering public benefits, ending homelessness and delivering anti-poverty programs. Previously, he was a senior advisor to the deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he led a series of initiatives to improve internal management. Before that, he served as a Presidential Management Fellow and special assistant in HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research. Prior to joining HUD, Larry worked for then-Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom and served as a team leader in AmeriCorps.

Larry received a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs and a bachelor's degree from Bates College. He resides in the LeDroit Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where he is an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.