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NIH Record

Diversity Council Holds First Meeting

The first NIH-wide Diversity Council convened recently; it is one outcome of the first NIH Diversity Congress held in October 1995 and represents a milestone of the workplace diversity initiative.

The council's purpose is to advise the director and staff of the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO). It will review NIH programs, policies and procedures from the perspective of chances for success and affect on the work force.

The program was opened by OEO Director Naomi Churchill, who noted that the convening of the Diversity Council represented more than 2 years of work by OEO staff. The intent in forming the council is to nurture and facilitate inclusion of all the dimensions of diversity to the maximum extent possible, she said.

Participants in the first NIH Diversity Council included (front row, from l) Jean Harris, Lorena Martinez-Geddes, Marvene Horwitz, Aftab Ansari, Rita Liu, George Counts, Martha Pine. At rear are (from l) Richard Harrison, Priscilla Rivera, Manuel Datiles, Don Poppke, John Miers, Susan Smith, Nick D'Ascoli, Joyanne Murphy, Arturo Giron, Eddie Reed.

Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, NIH deputy director, congratulated council members and acknowledged the contributions of the former OEO advisory committees for employees with disabilities, Asian-Pacific Islander Americans, African Americans, Hispanics and women, and requested the continued support of these groups in their newly structured organizations. The Diversity Council was not established for the sake of change alone, she added, but in order to meet the needs of the work force today and in the coming century. Kirschstein called for a time of coming together and reconciliation so that we may consider each employee's concern as a concern for all.

Churchill emphasized that individuals, not organizations, create excellence, and each member will lend his or her unique skills, background, and point of view to the OEO framework for change. Members were urged to perform their duties in a spirit of thoughtfulness, fairness and integrity. The quality of the work environment and improved utilization of the skills and talents of all employees is a continuing charge as the council promotes managing diversity throughout NIH, she said. The council's challenge is to become both visionary and realistic in its ideas, sensitive to employee needs while demanding excellence, and innovative and practical in advising OEO, she concluded.

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