Director of the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services
Wednesday, June 15
1:45 pm – 3:00 pm – Roundtable – CWS
Cathy Betts is the Director of the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services where she continues to further the department’s vision through her experience, advocacy, and commitment to helping the people of Hawai‘i thrive. She served as the deputy director from 2017 through August 2020.
Prior to serving as deputy, she successfully lead the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women for nearly six years and oversaw several legislative and policy successes including: the final passage of the Compassionate Care Act, which ensures rape victims have access to emergency contraception emergency rooms in Hawai‘i; various state Title IX reforms to ensure Hawaii continues to protect and preserve the late Congresswoman Patsy Mink’s legacy; protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; reforms for temporary restraining order process; and increased training on gender based violence. Betts has also practiced in government and private legal practice since 2006.
Betts earned her BA in Sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles and her juris doctorate from the University of Hawai‘i, William S. Richardson School of Law, where she served as the Patsy T. Mink Legislative Fellow in the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s Washington D.C. office.
She is currently on the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Filipino Lawyers Association, and previously chaired the HSBA Diversity, Equality, and the Law Committee (DEAL). She also sits on the Committee on Equality and Access to the Courts. She formerly served on the Board of Directors for Hawaii Women Lawyers, Hawaii Women in Filmmaking, and the National Association of Commissions for Women.
Betts was recognized as one of four YWCA Women’s Leader Awardees in 2020. In February 2021, the Hawai‘i Women’s Legal Foundation presented Betts with the Rhoda Lewis Award in recognition of her extraordinary contribution and commitment to public service. Betts was also awarded the Soroptomist International Ruby Award for Central O’ahu in 2018 and was one of six grantees of the United States Department of Labor’s Paid Leave Analysis grants in 2016.