On Monday, January 17, we join the nation in celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This federal holiday is observed as a day of service encouraging all Americans to volunteer in honor of Dr. King. As we remember the contributions of this civil rights champion, we honor his legacy by pursuing the full realization of his dream: a dream of equality for all. Recent Executive Orders (EOs), particularly EO 14035: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce, provide a framework for realizing this dream in the federal workplace. The Federal Government must be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).
I am very proud of the work we are doing here at NIH, and I will highlight just a few of the many activities we are undertaking in support of Dr. King’s dream. Many of the individuals supporting these initiatives are volunteers who embody the spirit of this service-focused observance of Dr. King’s life.
- We recently launched a working group with 85 NIH-wide representatives to develop NIH’s DEIA Strategic Plan.
We have several initiatives focused on tackling critical issues to foster equity across NIH including:
- the UNITE initiative, which will celebrate its one-year anniversary in February, to identify and address structural racism within NIH and the greater biomedical research community,
- the Anti-Racism Steering Committee to promote anti-racism across NIH and remove barriers to professional growth for staff from diverse backgrounds including underrepresented groups,
- the Anti-Harassment Steering Committee to promote a culture where harassment is not tolerated, and
- the Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity, with a newly constituted Subgroup on Individuals with Disabilities.
- The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) has seven full-time portfolio strategists and several advisory committees dedicated to fostering equitable and inclusive employment experiences for women, people with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, and employees who identify as Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.
With a mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and apply that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability, NIH’s work indeed aligns with Dr. King’s goal to create a better society. It is incumbent on each of us to foster growth and change in our communities, to implement Dr. King’s principles, and to demonstrate good citizenship in our day-to-day actions on and off the NIH campus.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service gives us an opportunity to do our part in contributing to a peaceful and balanced society. I urge you to make a difference and be a catalyst for change at NIH and in your local community by participating in the MLK Day of Service through virtual or safely distanced service opportunities.
To learn more about Dr. King's legacy and beliefs on service and community, I encourage you to reach out to EDI’s special emphasis portfolio strategists at firstname.lastname@example.org. To observe the MLK campaign developed by EDI, please visit the EDI website and follow @NIH_EDI on Twitter and Instagram.
Thank you for your service to NIH’s mission and commitment to ensure our work lives out the spirit of Dr. King’s dream.
Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Acting Director, NIH
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