Shingler Retires After More Than 35 Years of Federal Service
Felicia Shingler’s NIH career has come full circle. She began in 1981 hand-carrying documents to Bldg. 1 and last year (about 35 years later), just before lockdown, she found herself hand-carrying items to Bldg. 1. Back in the 80s, she was a summer aide getting her first taste of federal government work. This June, she retired as manager of the NIH Director’s Awards Program in the Office of Management, Office of the Director.
“From the beginning, NIH has always represented excellence and a high purpose for me,” Shingler said. “I’ve always tried to meet or exceed that level in every position I’ve had here. I could’ve continued forever as the NIH Director’s Awards program manager, because this is really a dream job. Managing this program is not like work. I love what I do.”
Longtime NIH’ers past and present could have predicted Shingler’s success.
“I knew from the moment I hired her as my secretary that she would leave me in a short time—but it was worth it,” said Dr. Carole Heilman, retired former director of NIAID’s Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and one of Shingler’s early supervisors. “Felicia had the drive, the work ethic and the smarts to make it worth my while to help her leave the job she would shortly be overqualified to do.”
Over the course of her career, Shingler served in several NIH components and roles. In addition to NIAID and OD, she worked at the Division of Research Grants, the precursor to the Center for Scientific Review.
As a writer-editor, she worked for more than 25 years as the NIH activity codes’ manager. She also served as lead for the eRA documentation and training team and worked briefly on the NIH Guide.
Ever interested in equity issues, Shingler was selected by then-NIH director Dr. Bernadine Healy to serve on a 17-member Task Force on Fairness in Employment Practices that was instrumental in establishing the reprisal and retaliation section in the NIH Policy Manual.
In 1991, Shingler was elected as chair of a newly established Young Adult Resources and Development (YARD) group within NIH’s chapter of the Blacks In Government (BIG) organization. That fall, the BIG YARD chair invited former NIH researcher and D.C. council member Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis to NIH as guest speaker at a special forum in Lipsett Amphitheater.
Shingler’s responsibilities and commitment to BIG service grew as her career progressed. In time, she was elected as NIH chapter president, chaired the organization’s national communications and public relations component, served as national secretary and sat on BIG’s board of directors. In 2014, BIG named Shingler to its Distinguished Service Hall of Fame, the organization’s highest honor.
In 35-plus years at NIH, Shingler has at times met with agency luminaries, including NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci—interactions that have new meaning in the age of Covid-19 and NIH’s higher profile.
“They were both so down to Earth and willing to talk to anyone—no matter where people worked in the organization—that I was honored to have an opportunity to interact with them,” Shingler recalled. “To have Dr. Collins recognize me and say, ‘Felicia, you’re doing a fabulous job. Thank you so much for putting this together’…was a definite highlight of my career at NIH.”
Last fall, with the majority of NIH’ers working remotely, Shingler singlehandedly packaged and mailed more than 660 award items to NIH Director’s Award recipients, because the in-person ceremony could not be held due to the pandemic. Distributing the awards is a job that usually requires a dozen volunteers, but Shingler handled it personally. She hopes that her dedication and work ethic will be how colleagues remember her federal service.