Native American - About


The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) strives to advance diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEIA) 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 this community remains a successful part of a broader DEIA strategy for NIH. This portfolio is federally mandated, having its authority grounded in Presidential Executive Orders.

Programs are designed by the Special Emphasis Program Strategists to provide cultural awareness to our customers 365 days a 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 empower career advancement for Native American employees;
  • Identify systemic causes of discrimination against Native American employees;
  • Monitor agency progress in eliminating barriers 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, the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, 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 support this community 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 community is a critical piece of our overall diversity strategy.


headshot of Clarissa Alexander

Clarissa Alexander

Clarissa Alexander is the Native American Employment Portfolio Specialist at NIH's EDI.

Clarissa started her government career in 2012 as a graduate student intern at NIH’s National Human Genome Institute. 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 a research associate at George Washington University followed by working in various positions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is joining EDI from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) where she worked as a Program Analyst analyzing the return on investment of NIDDK’s diversity-related portfolio. Before joining NIDDK, Clarissa worked at the Office of the Director within the “All of Us Research Program” at NIH.

Clarissa has held positions as a managing editor for the journal The Qualitative Report and was a former instructor in academia. Clarissa has conducted research abroad in Peru and the Amazon. Clarissa is a public health professional and bioinformatician who is a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, American Public Health Association, NIH Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics, and Native Americans in Science. She has over 13 years of experience working in health disparities and science, technology, engineering, and math outreach with philanthropic organizations. Clarissa has a passion for public health, bioinformatics, DEIA, 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 communities, Institutes, and Centers. Members are champions and allies who are willing to help establish cooperative relationships with both internal and external organizations to help recruit and retain qualified Native American employees. Committee members help coordinate with the Strategist on program activities and assist in identifying mission areas, agency, DEIA, and civil rights concerns.