Search form

Group 4 Created with Sketch.
Back to HHS Watch

Judy Stecker

Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Strategy, Office of the Secretary

Judy (Mayka) Stecker joined the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in April 2018  as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs — a position she held through June 2019, at which point she became Secretary Azar’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Strategy. Over the course of her career ­— which has focused on communications, media, and politics — she has worked for conservative, anti-abortion organizations including The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.


In her roles at HHS, Stecker has outwardly represented and defended the agency-wide rollbacks and threats to reproductive health. As primary spokesperson for the agency, she hindered transparency to the public and the press with HHS policies, including the child separation crisis.


Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, HHS Office of the Secretary, 2018 – 2019

Executive Director of Media Relations and Strategic Marketing, American Enterprise Institute, 2012 – 2018

The Heritage Foundation:

Director of Communications, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, 2009 – 2010

Press Secretary, Vets for Freedom, 2008 – 2009

Intern, Rep. James T. Walsh (R-NY), 2005


The Heritage Foundation:

Stecker worked at The Heritage Foundation in 2007 and returned in 2010 – 2012. Heritage consistently takes extremist, anti-choice positions on reproductive rights; as a media associate there, Stecker was responsible to externally communicating these stances. The Heritage Foundation has been credited with “stocking Trump’s government.”

James T. “Jim” Walsh (R-NY):

Stecker began her career working for conservative Rep. Jim Walsh. Walsh has taken extremist positions on reproductive rights and has an anti-abortion voting record, having voted in favor of legislation such as the global gag rule under President Bush.


Stecker Dodged and Refused To Answer Reporters’ Questions On a June 2018 Press Call Regarding HHS’ Role In Child Separation Crisis.

“Lisa Desjardins, a reporter with PBS NewsHour, asked whether HHS is ‘still receiving children who are coming into your care because of parental detention’ due to an ‘implementation phase on the executive order.’ ‘We can get you that information as soon as possible and we appreciate your patience,’ HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Judy Stecker said before attempting to move on. ‘Actually, it’s really important,’ said Desjardins. ‘Excuse me. Are you still receiving children who are there because of the parental separation policy?’ ‘I believe we’ve answered,’ Stecker replied. ‘I didn’t hear an answer,’ Desjardins said. Stecker then called for a ‘final question’ and someone could be heard on the line expressing shock at Stecker’s refusal to offer specifics… Stecker, the HHS spokesperson, then asked reporters who had further questions or wanted “specific numbers” to reach out to the agency via email. Despite this encouragement, HHS has not responded to a request from Yahoo News asking whether it is still taking in children who have been separated from their parents. The conference call operator seemed to have been prepared for the officials to take more than three questions. ‘You ready for the next question?’ the operator asked Stecker. Stecker was not. ‘With that we will end the call,’ she said before hanging up.” [Yahoo News, 6/26/18]