Native American - About


EDI strives to advance diversity and inclusion at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and ensure that the civil rights of all employees are protected. The Native American Employment Portfolio is directed at ensuring that this constituency remains a successful part of a broader diversity and inclusion strategy for NIH. This portfolio is federally mandated, having its authority grounded in Presidential Executive Orders.

Programs are designed by the SEPS in order to provide cultural awareness to our customers 365 days of the year. The goals of the Native American Employment Portfolio are to:

  • provide advancement opportunities and improve employment for Native American employees in the Federal service;
  • seek ways to help Native American employees to advance by using their skills more fully;
  • identify systemic causes of discrimination against Native American employees;
  • monitor Agency progress in eliminating discrimination and reducing the adverse impact on Native American employees in employment and Agency programs;
  • educate federal employees and managers about the extent of various forms of discrimination within Federal Service;
  • build pipelines with tribal colleges and universities;
  • maintain an active presence in Native American communities; and
  • improve the retention rate for Native American employees.

EDI works in partnership with the Office of Human Resources (OHR), the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD), and NIH leadership to support the Native American Employment Portfolio. Together, we develop collaborations to advance the representation of our Native American employees in all occupations of the NIH workforce and to support this constituency in achieving their fullest potential.

At NIH we understand that our responsibility to diverse groups extends well beyond federal mandates. We define diversity broadly to include all elements of our human identities and encompass every aspect of difference. Within EDI, we are interested in leveraging the ideas of each NIH employee to fuel innovation and drive health discovery. The Native American constituency is a critical piece of our overall diversity strategy.


Clarissa Alexander

Clarissa Alexander

Clarissa Alexander is the Native American Employment Portfolio Specialist at the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) at the National institutes of Health (NIH).

Clarissa started her government career in 2012 as a graduate student intern within the National Human Genome Institute (NHGRI) at NIH. Clarissa went on to work as a Pre-doctoral Cancer Research Training Award fellow at the National Cancer Institute in 2013. After her time at NIH Clarissa worked as research associate at George Washington University followed by working in various positions at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Clarissa is joining EDI from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) where she worked as a program analyst and sought to conduct analysis on the return on investment on NIDDK diversity related portfolio. Prior to joining NIDDK Clarissa worked at the Office of the Director within the “All of Us Research Program” at NIH.

Clarissa has also held positions as a managing editor for the journal The Qualitative Report, was a former instructor in academia; she has conducted research aboard in Peru, and the Amazon. Clarissa is a public health professional and bioinformatician who is a member of American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the American Public Health Association, NIH Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics, and Native American in Science (SACNAS) and has over 13 years of experience working in health disparities and S.T.E.M. outreach with philanthropic organizations. Clarissa has a passion for public health, bioinformatics, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and health disparities research.

Clarissa obtained her BA in Biological Sciences, and an MS in biomedical informatics with a concentration in medical informatics.

> Contact Clarissa


The Committee addresses issues concerning employees by educating managers and supervisors on their responsibilities regarding Native American culture, values, and traditions. In addition, the committee utilizes Native American employees and allies to speak with their own communities and ICs. Please contact me if you are interested in serving on the committee. We need champions who are willing to help establish cooperative relationships with both internal and external organizations in order to help recruit and employ qualified Native American employees. Committee members help coordinate with the Strategist on program activities, and assist in identifying mission areas, and Agency diversity, inclusion, and civil rights concerns.