Jennifer Evans (Haliwa-Saponi Tribe) at National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and Ashley Wells (Occaneechi-Saponi Tribe) at the office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI).
Ashley Wells: What’s your Tribal Name?
Jennifer Evans: Haliwa-Saponi
Ashley Wells: Where were you born?
Jennifer Evans: Greenville, NC
Ashley Wells: How important is community outreach to you?
Jennifer Evans: Community outreach is very important to me especially for Native youth and elders. Youth ambassador programs and social media campaigns tailed to younger audiences can be very effective ways to make connections with people in the Native American community. It’s important to help youth develop self-esteem and understand they have a purpose in life, which can help reduce high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse. We need to invest more in our youth. There is so much value in outreach because it helps everyone involved learn and grow.
Ashley Wells: How long have you been with NIH?
Jennifer Evans: I started my journey with NIH in June 2010. When I began I was a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. It’s been a wonderful adventure over the last 8 years.
Ashley Wells: What’s your professional background?
Jennifer Evans: I’m involved in many different areas that allow me to incorporate my Human Development and Family Studies (HDF) degree. These areas include the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (VLTP), Leave Bank, NIEHS Transhare Program, Telework, and special events at NIEHS. Speaking to other colleagues with respect, empathy and kindness is the most important part of my profession. The smallest efforts can make a huge difference in a day!
Ashley Wells: How can you help improve the composition of the STEM education pipeline for Native American students?
Jennifer Evans: I believe that I can assist in the structure of the STEM education pipeline for Native American students through effective outreach. Many Native students aren't aware of the possibilities outside of their community, similar to me. Through outreach, we are inviting Native students to become an active participant in STEM, and this could lead to further interest in the NIH.
Ashley Wells: What types of community programs do you feel need to be more visible in Indian Country?
Jennifer Evans: There needs to be more educational and mentoring programs. These types of programs can help people in Indian country prosper while preserving their culture.
Ashley Wells: How can Tribal colleges build stronger partnerships with institutions like NIH?
Jennifer Evans: The Tribal colleges can build stronger partnerships with institutions like NIH by attending workshops, partnerships and internship programs. What does success mean to you? Success means to continue moving forward.
Ashley Wells: Who is Jennifer Evans outside of NIH?
Jennifer Evans: Outside of work I spend time gardening at home and tending to 3 dogs (2 Cattle dogs, 1 Pekingese). I also like trying new recipes and relaxing with a book. Recently, I’ve been interested in connecting with things I enjoyed doing when I was younger. Beading has helped me with controlling my essential tremors and I’m able to be creative by making new designs.
Ashley Wells: What’s your leadership style?
Jennifer Evans: I would describe my leadership style as democratic. I include team members in decision making while considering what is best for the agency.
Ashley Wells: What does success mean to you and any last words?
Jennifer Evans: Success means to continue moving forward. Please feel free to reach out to me to discuss more. I’m very excited to be a part of EDI 365¬– celebrating diversity and inclusion at the NIH!
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