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NIH Record


NHLBI's Kamisar Retires After 42-Year Career

By Laina Pack

Sandy Kamisar, team leader of the publications production and tracking team, recently retired from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute after 42 years of service. Dr. Claude Lenfant, NHLBI director, expressed appreciation for her devotion. "Ms. Kamisar has played a significant part in the evolution of the NHLBI, and her dedication shows through her continuous loyalty to the institute. She has been truly committed to the mission of the institute, and her contributions are appreciated."

Kamisar started as a clerk stenographer in 1956 in the then National Heart Institute. Her responsibilities soon grew, however, and her jobs during the next two decades included: helping produce The Doctor Reports, a 15-minute TV show featuring former NHLBI director Dr. James Watt; maintaining the patient registry for human heart transplants; and writing and producing various popular publications.

In 1976, Kamisar became chief of the publications and distribution section. She also planned public affairs and conference activities, and designed and staffed NHLBI exhibits. She organized the first cardiopulmonary resuscitation training program for the institute, which nearly 400 staff members took.

Kamisar's supervisor Terry Long recalls Kamisar's commitment as "extraordinary. Her many years as a manager and mentor have given us a legacy of high standards and committed staff. We have much to thank her for." Former NHLBI director Dr. Robert Levy said, "I often ask myself, would I have left the NIH if I had realized that there were not folks like Sandy at every career stop? I will always remember and treasure Sandy Kamisar's commitment and loyalty to the NHLBI and what it stood for. I will also remember her freely speaking her mind (even to the boss) as to what she thought was right or wrong. Clearly Sandy's job slot can be filled, but she can never be replaced."

For nearly 20 years, she also served as mentor to support staff. Past and present employees under her supervision have benefitted from her efforts to empower women in the workforce including Judith Grover, acting director, Division of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources, OER, who notes, "Sandy was proud of her affiliation with the NHLBI and her efforts on its behalf. As a supervisor, she encouraged her staff to work independently, seek training to improve skills, and accept new challenges." Nancy Poole, another coworker, says, "Sandy was on the forefront of promoting job advancement and upward mobility for female colleagues."

Throughout her career, she has received many awards and honors including two NIH Awards of Merit. Kamisar contributed to NHLBI's 10th, 20th and 25th anniversaries, cochaired the 30th anniversary activities, and participated in 40th anniversary events. She retired in the 50th anniversary year saying, "I have put in my time, and I want to move on to other adventures." As she reflects on her career, she remembers the best times. "I've seen the heart institute mature over 40 years. It's been an absolutely exciting place to be. I've enjoyed what I've done, and I feel I've had a full career."

Future plans include continuing her community service and Judaic studies, participating in elder hostels, enhancing her computer savvy, and enjoying some travel.

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