Bryan Samuels

Executive Director

Bryan Samuels is the Executive Director of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. At Chapin Hall, Samuels’ deep expertise is aimed at the active integration of empirical evidence into public policy decision making, as well as into the management of government agencies, the design and delivery of programs, and frontline practice. He leads the organization in accelerating the use of evidence by those whose mission is to improve the lives of children, adolescents, and families.

Across his career, Samuels’ work has centered on identifying and addressing inequities. Today, he is shaping Chapin Hall’s national leadership in efforts to address racial inequity in child welfare, juvenile justice, youth homelessness responses, and other human service systems.

Since taking the helm of Chapin Hall, Samuels has focused on matching Chapin Hall’s historical reputation for rigorous research with unparalleled in-house policy expertise to further the organization’s impact. Samuels’ life experiences and broad experience as a decision maker himself—and his lifelong work in partnership with policymakers and practitioners—undergirds his successful approach to shaping actionable and sustainable solutions based on evidence.

Prior to joining Chapin Hall in 2013, Samuels was the commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Samuels administered federal programs addressing child abuse and neglect, youth experiencing homelessness, domestic and intimate partner violence, and teen pregnancy. Samuels has also served as chief of staff at Chicago Public Schools and as director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the nation’s third-largest child welfare agency.

Samuels holds a Masters of Public Policy from the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago and a BA in Economics from the University of Notre Dame. He has lectured at the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Samuels has testified before Congress about the well-being of children in foster care, and frequently presents and writes on topics including the impact of trauma on child well-being and the use of evidence-based interventions to ensure all young people reach their full potential.

MPP, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago

BA, University of Notre Dame

Samuels, B. (2022, June). Helping Families Thrive: System Transformation through Community Leadership, keynote address at the Community Action Partnership Law Conference; Chicago, IL 

Samuels, B. (2022, April). Re-Imagining a Prevention-Focused and Equitable Child Welfare System for the 21st Century, panelist and facilitator at Child Welfare League of America Conference, Washington, DC.  

Ghartey-Ogundimu, L., Reed, D., Rostoni, N., Samuels, B., (2022, March) Home Visiting and Child Welfare: Emerging Family First Opportunities and Challenges; Panel participant; National Home Visiting Virtual Conference. 

Samuels, B. (2021, November). Centering Racial Equity in Ending Youth Homelessness, Family & Youth Services Bureau, Runaway and Homeless Youth Training & Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) Virtual Workshop, presenter. 

Samuels, B. (2021, November). Racial Disparities among Youth Experiencing Homelessness in Cook County, panel presentation at the Covenant House Sleep Out. 

Samuels, B. (2021, November). National Perspective on currrent Child Welfare Policies and Trends; Community Based Child Welfare National Symposium, Lunch Keynote Address; Orlando, FL – Virtual presentation. 

Anderson, C., Samuels, B., (2021, October) Economic & Concrete Supports as a Core Component; presentation for the Virginia Department of Social Services; Virtual 

Jean-Francois, J; Milner, J.; Samuels, B. (2021, October) Policy Solutions at the Intersection of Child Welfare, Poverty and Racism; SPARK Panel session participant; Alliance for Strong Families and Communities; Virtual 

Samuels, B.; (2021, September) Centering Racial Equity in Ending Youth Homelessness; webinar presenter; Administration for Children and Families Racial Equity Series. Virtual  

Day, A; Liehr, A., Samuels, B., Vanderkwaak, E.; (2021, September) Panelist; Centering Lived Experience: Methodology of Away From Home; Think of Us virtual event 

Blinkiewicz, M.; Fulmore-Townsend, C., Samuels, B., Whitfored, E.; (2021, May) panel discussant post opening plenary Disruptions and Opportunities in a Year Like None Other;  Ready by 21 National Meeting. Virtual 

Samuels, B. (08/09/2021). Supports, Not Just Services: Talking Child Welfare Response with Chapin Hall’s Bryan Samuels. The Imprint Weekly Podcast.  

Samuels, B., Samuels, G., (June, 2021) Keynote Rising Tide Conference, Virtual 

Samuels, B., Shea, R., Wiggins, M., (2021, June) Building Back Better: Federal Leadership for Children and Youth;  panel participant;  Hosted by Nemours Children’s Health System; First Focus on Children, Children’s Week 2021. Virtual. 

Samuels, B., Smith, V., Spears, L., Spurgeon, D., Tronsgard-Scott, (2021, March) Plenary panel, Let’s Be Real, Quality Improvement Center on Domestic Violence in Child Welfare (QIC-DVCW) Virtual Conference. 

Samuels, B., Fielding, J., Enekwechi, A., (2021, February) Panelists, Reflections on Policy Implementation Science: Growing the Field. National Cancer Institute Policy Implementation Science Webinar Series. 

2021 100 Champions for Children Award, CWLA  

2018 Bernice Weissbourd Award for Family Support, Family Focus  

2016 For the Love of Children Award, Children’s Home and Aid  

2015 Founders Award, John Praed Foundation Champion Awards  

2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, Bright Promises Foundation  

2012 Peter W. Forsyth Award for Leadership in Public Child Welfare, National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators  

2011 Distinguished Service Award, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children  

2010 Community Health in Partnership Service Award  

2005 Lifeline Celebration Award, Community Mental Health Council  

2003 40 Under 40 Leadership Award, Crain’s Chicago Business  

1989 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation PPIA Fellowship 

Samuels, B. (2020). Family and Child Well-Being: An Urgent Call to Action. Children’s Bureau Express. The Moment is Now. August/September 2020. Vol. 21, No. 6. 

Anderson, C. and Samuels, B. H. (2014). Well-Being: Federal Attention and Implications. CW360°. Attending to Well-Being in Child Welfare. 4-6. 

Blitz, C. and Samuels, B. H. (2014). A Call to Action: Promoting Effective Interventions for Children in Child Welfare Using Neuroscience. Social Policy Report, 28(1), 28-30. 

Samuels, B. H. (2011). Addressing trauma to promote social and emotional well-being: A child welfare imperative. Child Welfare, 90(6), 19-28. 

Griffin, G., McEwen, E., Samuels, B. H., Hayward, S., Redd, J. L., and McClelland, G. M. (2011). Infusing protective factors for children in foster care. Psychiatric clinics of North America. Special Issue: Prevention in Mental Health: Lifespan Perspective, 34(1), 185-203. 

Samuels, B. H., Ahsan, N., & Garcia, J. (1995). Know your community: A step-by-step guide to community needs and resources assessment. Ellicott City, MD: Family Resource Coalition of America.