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Award Winning 'Superwoman' Works at NIAMS

By Janet Howard

Mother to five boys ages 4-12. Real estate agent. Office manager. On-the-job mentor. Wife. Employment counselor for female ex-offenders. College student. Foster parent. Conference coordinator. Mediator. Assistant to the NIAMS extramural program director. Certified CPR instructor. No, this is not a list of the people in your investment club. It is actually one woman, NIAMS's Felecia Taylor. She and nine others (selected from more than 5,000 nominees) were honored recently at the 6th annual Tribute to Working Women Awards, hosted by Channel 7 (WJLA) news anchor Kathleen Matthews at the Westin Fairfax Hotel in Washington, D.C. The awards were given to recognize the many ways women influence the lives of others and make a difference at home, at work and in their communities.

All honorees received a trophy and a $1,000 cash award. Taylor was secretly nominated by her good friend, NIAMS Administrative Officer Karen Butler. "I was shocked and speechless," said Taylor. "I am so appreciative of Karen thinking enough of me to nominate me for this award. It's overwhelming!" she said with a smile. "When I heard about the award, I thanked God right then for giving me my skills and a compassionate heart to heal the wounded."

NIAMS' Felecia Taylor

Butler remarked, "When I heard about the award, I knew Felecia was a perfect match. She deserves this award. She is amazing. I don't know how she does it all and remains one of the happiest people I know."

Recently, Taylor was the focus of a full-page article in the Washington Times, "Women With Powerful Influence," that was generated as a result of the awards. And in a Times article earlier this year about a mother-and-son prom, Taylor and one of her children were featured in one of the anecdotes. She was mentioned in the Gazette newspaper recently for her community volunteer work. She has also won numerous awards associated with her NIH position.

One of Taylor's 11 sisters (she has no brothers), Chantay Mahogany, founded Storytime Network, Inc., an organization to help train and educate women who have been incarcerated. As a volunteer, Taylor teaches recently released women how to read job announcements, fill out federal job application forms and find other ways of seeking employment. She counsels them to help ease the transition back into the work force. "Many of the women once worked in the government. I am able to tell them about policies and procedures that may help get them reinstated. Becoming employed after release is a tremendous boost to their self-confidence," Taylor remarked.

Trained to be a certified Department of Justice mediator with NIH, she also has a real estate license and lists and sells homes in the Prince George's County area. In the extramural program office headed by Dr. Steven Hausman, where Taylor works, she has been asked for and visited by so many for her mentoring skills that she now has to have them schedule appointments with her.

Taylor also can be found at Montgomery College taking classes toward a business degree. It is not unusual to see her doing homework at lunchtime. "Dr. Hausman has been very supportive of me continuing my education. I am grateful to him for the opportunity to do this," she said.

"Felecia is indispensable in running the extramural program," said Hausman. "She is self-directed, and works beautifully as a liaison between institute staff and outside communities." Taylor also serves on committees at work and in the public that are too numerous to mention.

Charlie Hart, Taylor's uncle, was her role model. "He taught me to believe in myself and that I could make a difference. He said to walk with my head held high and told me that God is always with me so I'll never be alone," she said.

Taylor and her husband are adopting two of the boys that they foster, are fostering another, and are raising a nephew in addition to their son. "I felt I could make a difference in their lives," she says. "I love to get up in the morning at 4:30 and fix my family a nice, big hot breakfast before they go out to face the day. It makes me feel good knowing that they can start out each morning well-fed."

Other practices in the Taylor household include no television during the week, a strict 8:30 p.m. curfew and nightly prayers and devotionals. "The boys all have to read a book during the week and write me a book report on it. Then, on the weekends, they can watch TV and stay up later. And we go to church on Sundays," she said. All the boys have household duties to perform as well. "I see the potential in all of them. I love them all so much, and they have a genuine love for me," she says.

Her oldest son is responsible for tucking the other boys in at bedtime. "My 11-year-old brings me a cup of warm milk every night to help me sleep," Taylor said. Then he kisses her goodnight.

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