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EDI Honors 2015 Champions for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Elena Leon and Dr. Peter Blumberg

Every year, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) has the opportunity to issue an award to two individuals at the NIH who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. These “EDI Awards” are The Harvey J. Bullock Award for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and The NIH Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award. Learn more about them on our website.

The Harvey J. Bullock Jr. Award was created to recognize the achievements of those employees who are not at the senior level (i.e., GS-12 and below, or equivalent).

For 2015, EDI presented the award to Elena Leon for voluntarily assisting many employees in gaining access to training, employment opportunities, promotions, and mentoring. For over a year, she has led a program called Conéctate (Get Connected!) with Acquisitions. Ms. Leon’s involvement has resulted in the creation of a growing group of 32 employees who are actively engaged in mentoring, networking, and career progression. She created a venue where participants give presentations, discuss career opportunities, and share knowledge and information with each other. Ms. Leon initiated discussions that are sensitive to the Hispanic community; namely, overcoming bias and language barriers. With guidance, she created a system where participants and presenters can now receive Continuous Learning Points (CLPs) for their engagement in the program. Thanks to her efforts, over 60 CLPs have been awarded to participants. She has also connected five participants with supervisors and senior leaders for mentorship.

The NIH Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Award of the Year was established to recognize executives, supervisors, or managers who have excelled in furthering NIH’s equity, diversity, and/or inclusion efforts.

The recipient of the 2015 NIH EDI Award has prioritized the representation of people with disabilities in the NIH workforce. Dr. Peter Blumberg extended research and training opportunities to talented deaf and hard of hearing scientists by partnering with Gallaudet University and establishing a recruiting network that identifies competitive students for his research training positions. The results have been impressive. 22 deaf or hard of hearing scientists are current or former members of Dr. Blumberg’s lab. Altogether, Dr. Blumberg’s deaf and hard of hearing staff have published 63 papers and have co-authored one patent application.

Dr. Blumberg also established a collaborative research effort with Gallaudet University Faculty and Staff. Here, aspects of joint scientific research projects that are within the capabilities of the Gallaudet facilities are conducted at Gallaudet while those aspects for which Gallaudet is not equipped are done in his lab at the National Cancer Institute. For deaf students aspiring to do scientific research, the highly successful deaf scientists from Dr. Blumberg’s group serve as much needed role models. A deaf person giving a scientific seminar at a nationally recognized institution like NIH is rarely if ever seen. The outstanding performance of Dr. Blumberg’s trainees has opened the eyes of the hearing community to the often-overlooked potential of our deaf citizens.

It is our great pleasure to honor and thank Ms. Leon and Dr. Blumberg for championing the ideals of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Learn more about the EDI Awards.