NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NCI’s Holliday Retires After 34 Years at NIH

Headshot of Holliday
NCI’s Alesha Holliday recently retired.

Alesha Holliday, director of NCI’s Office of Management Policy and Compliance (OMPC), recently retired after more than three decades at NIH.

She arrived at NIH in 1988, after working in a small office supply store in Bethesda, while attending Montgomery College. “Talking to friends at school, customers and co-workers, I realized that the federal government trains its staff to use computers,” Holliday recalled. “I started applying right away. My first interview was at NIH with the NIAID. I was hired as a part-time GS-4 grants clerk” working in the Westwood Bldg.

She moved to Bldg. 1 in 1990 for an administrative technician position in NIH’s Office of Extramural Research, where she climbed the ranks of administration and management over the next 20-plus years, working in the NIH Office of the Director, NCI Office of Management and at NHLBI, where she served as the acting deputy executive officer for 2 years. 

In early 2013, Holliday returned to NCI as branch chief at OMPC. She served as the office’s acting director for about 2 years before being selected for the position permanently.

“I first worked with Alesha in the NCI Office of Management Analysis in 2004-2005,” said Laura M. Larson, OMPC deputy director, and chief of its Quality Management/Program Integrity Branch. “I learned so much from her in that short time that I was disappointed when I learned that she was leaving for what turned out to be bigger and better things at NHLBI. She had a phenomenal career at NHLBI. While we sort of kept in touch after she left, it wasn’t the same. Fast forward to January 2013, when I heard she was coming back to NCI. It has been the 10 best years of my career working for and alongside Alesha. She’s a fantastic motivational leader. Alesha would write various quotes every Friday on our whiteboard for staff while in the office and then continued that tradition using gifs in Teams. She is often sought out as a mentor. She’s definitely a go-to person. Nothing fazes her, whether it involves having to give a last-minute presentation or stepping in to help out a fellow NCI’er who was having trouble singing Killing Me Softly at an NCI Talent show. She leaves behind wonderful memories and big shoes to fill.”

Over the course of her 34-year federal career, Holliday has received numerous honors and accolades, including six NIH Merit Awards and an NCI Director’s Award in 2021 for Covid-19 survey analysis. 

A proud Trinity College alumna whose mission is a continued commitment to educating women, she has nurtured several proteges informally throughout her career and formally as part of the NCI Career Mentoring Advantage Program from 2015 to 2020.

Holliday with microphone in hand
At a CFC talent show in 2018, Holliday sings.

Photo:  courtesy laura larson

“Working with Alesha over the past 10+ years has been beyond a remarkable and rewarding experience both professionally and personally,” said LaKisha Bolden, NCI senior management analyst. “Her ‘people first’ management style is one that every employee should experience. She always showed how much she cared about you and not just the work that you did. She would always say in work and life ‘remember what’s really important.’ Alesha will forever be remembered and greatly missed for being a leader of integrity, high emotional intelligence and impeccable character.”

Holliday also volunteered in several professional and career-development organizations over the years, serving as recording secretary for the NIH chapter of Blacks In Government, area director and multiple leadership positions with Gene Toasters/Toastmaster International and as a member of Federally Employed Women and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

Married with two children and a 10-year-old granddaughter, Holliday has already mapped out several post-NIH activities, including expanding her capacity to serve others. 

“I plan on becoming an advocate for disability rights,” she said, “continuing my charity work, spending more time with my family, and traveling.”

Reflecting on her multi-decade career in federal service and the highs and lows of the past few years in particular, Holliday summed up her experiences with a quote from the late actor Chadwick Boseman, “The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.  Press on with pride and press on with purpose.” 

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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