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Governor’s Office – News Release – Gov. Ige appoints Cathy Betts to head Department of Human Services

Posted on Aug 3, 2020 in Latest Department News, Office of the Governor Press Releases

HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige has appointed Cathy Betts to serve as director of the Department of Human Services (DHS). Betts will replace Pankaj Bhanot who is stepping down as the department’s director for health and family reasons on Aug. 31, 2020.

Betts has served as deputy director at DHS since Oct. 2017, assisting the director and managing and overseeing operations. She previously served as executive director for the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women; as deputy attorney general with the State of Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General; as a law clerk in the First Circuit Court; as a community outreach worker/education coordinator for The Sex Abuse Treatment Center at Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children; and as an attorney in private practice.

Betts is a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, William S. Richardson School of Law. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Cathy has the experience and expertise necessary to successfully lead the Department of Human Services during a very difficult and critical period. I have every confidence that she will serve our residents and our state well,” said Gov. Ige.

“I am beyond honored and grateful for this opportunity to lead the Department of Human Services. I thank the governor for having confidence in my ability to lead with vision, empathy, and understanding for staff and the diverse communities we serve. I will continue to diligently work on our collective vision for the department: that families in Hawai‘i are healthy, safe, and have the ability to thrive. I look forward to continuing this good work throughout the state and with our many respected community stakeholders,” said Betts.

Betts replaces Bhanot, who has served as DHS director since Sept. 2016 and dedicated 20-plus years to public service.

“Pankaj’s commitment to our community and his passion for providing a voice for those who need help, benefited countless people across our state. He will surely be missed. I wish him and his family the best always,” said Gov. Ige.

Betts assumes the role of DHS director on Sept. 1. Her appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.


Media Contacts:

Jodi Leong
Deputy Communications Director/Press Secretary
Office of the Governor
Office: 808-586-0043
Mobile: 808-798-3929
[email protected]

Cindy McMillan
Communications Director
Office of the Governor
Office: 808-586-0012
Mobile: 808-265-7974
[email protected]