OCL Director Hedetniemi Retires
By Terry LaMotte
Last month, NIH said goodbye to the first director of the Office of Community Liaison, Janyce Hedetniemi. After nearly 8 years in the position, she retired on June 30. At a farewell open house, colleagues, county and state officials, friends and family acknowledged her 25-year career at NIH.
"NIH is losing a talented community relations spokeswoman," said NIH deputy director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein. "Her guidance and direction over the years have helped NIH form important partnerships with neighboring communities, serving as a model for other federal agencies to emulate."
Hedetniemi worked to improve relations between NIH and its neighbors. "The success of the office belongs to Jan, who has worked tirelessly with the community," said Community Liaison Council co-chair Ginny Miller. "Her interpersonal relationship skills, experience and dedication to constantly improving communication between NIH and the community have been outstanding." The CLC is NIH's key connection to its neighbors, allowing area residents to provide input into NIH activities.
In September 1994, when OCL was established, Hedetniemi's first charge was to work with the community on such concerns as an incinerator, growth and construction on campus, and mitigation of lighting and noise from an NIH parking garage. Since then, she has presided over negotiations with the community regarding the campus master plan; construction and location of buildings; traffic and parking; environmental concerns; tree preservation; and NIH security, to name just a few issues.
At the suggestion of her office, NIH built a lighted footpath to offer safe access through campus and to the farmer's market; planted trees to shield the parking lot from residents along Battery Lane; and advocated on behalf of a civic association when its storm sewer program needed attention from the county.
Hedetniemi rarely shied away from requests for her time and expertise. In addition to OCL duties, she also served on NIH's speaker bureau, chaired leadership conferences and training programs on biomedical research and the environment and bioterrorism, and served on numerous steering committees.
She was also active off-campus: Hedetniemi is a member of the board of governors for the Chelsea School, serving children with learning disabilities; participated in programs by Leadership Montgomery and Leadership Maryland; and chaired a work group for the Montgomery County transportation policy task force on effective regional transportation solutions. She is also past president of the Bethesda chapter of the Kiwanis Club.
Hedetniemi twice won the NIH Director's Award and was twice a recipient of the NIH Merit Award. She also received the Community Hero Award of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, mentored almost 30 interns, and was named Outstanding Mentor by the Management Intern and Presidential Management Intern programs.
Hedetniemi began her NIH career in 1977, and worked primarily in planning, evaluation and program analysis. She worked on the long-range research plan for NICHD; coordinated planning and review for NHLBI; and established the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation for NIGMS. Prior to joining OCL, she served as chair of the Conference to Establish a National Action Plan on Breast Cancer for HHS in 1993.
Before joining NIH, Hedetniemi was a member of the senior staff of the President's Biomedical Research Panel. She was also special assistant to the chairman of the D.C. City Council, director of development for Mount Vernon College and assistant dean of women at the University of Maryland.
She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and English literature from Carnegie Mellon University and has a master's degree in counseling and guidance and psychology from Indiana University.
Hedetniemi looks forward to spending more time with her friends and family, but admits she will miss her NIH colleagues and community partners. "My years at NIH have been memorable, especially these last eight in community liaison. I have benefitted from unique partnerships and lasting friendships that I will miss very much."
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