Native Americans-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 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 Portfolio are to:

  • provide advancement opportunities and improve employment for Native Americans in the Federal service;
  • seek ways to help Native Americans to advance by using their skills more fully;
  • identify systemic causes of discrimination against Native Americans;
  • monitor Agency progress in eliminating discrimination and reducing the adverse impact on Native Americans 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 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.


Ashley Wells

Ashley Wells (Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation)

Ashley Wells graduated summa cum laude from the University of San Francisco (USF) in California, where she received a Master's degree in Organization and Leadership Studies. In her higher education academic career, she developed a leadership philosophy and practical approaches to function as an agent of change. In addition, Ashley studied how to identify ways institutions perpetuate, and create opportunities to challenge, injustice and inequality. She chose USF for her graduate studies because of its Jesuit mission to have measurable impact in communities most affected by injustice.

As the Strategist for the Portfolio for Native Americans at NIH, Ashley participates in the review of policies, practices, and procedures in order to help eliminate discrimination against Native American employees at NIH. Part of Ashley's role is to serve as a subject matter expert, advisor, and program advocate. Each day she strives to serve the community and work towards equality for all.

In her spare time Ashley enjoys discovering the world's incredible cultural diversity through travel with her amazing daughter.

> Contact Ashley


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.