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NIH Record Retirees

NINDS's Salas Retires After 34 Years of Government Service

By Shannon E. Garnett

Alfred "Larry" Salas, NINDS assistant executive officer, recently retired after more than 34 years of government service — 27 years with NIH.

"NINDS has been a great experience for me. I have made a lot of good friends and worked with a lot of outstanding people," said Salas. "In my years at NIH and NINDS I have been very impressed with the dedication and hard work of its employees and in particular the physicians and nurses who care for the people afflicted with the diseases and disorders that we study."

Alfred "Larry" Salas

Salas was born in Albuquerque, N.M. After serving 4 years in the U.S. Navy, he received his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of New Mexico in 1969. He earned his master's degree in business administration from George Washington University in 1977.

Salas began his NIH career in 1969 as a hospital administrative assistant in the Clinical Center. His principal responsibility was serving as the administrative officer of the day — a 24-hour position that required him and several of his coworkers to work on rotating shifts, providing administrative services and support to special ambulatory care patients.

"We got to know the patients and their families very well," said Salas. "It was there that I realized what a wonderful place NIH was and what a fine thing the employees did for our country. I was sold on the NIH."

Two years later he became a personnel management specialist in the Division of Research Services (now ORS) where he worked with veterinarians, librarians, photographers and artists. In 1974, he left DRS and became a personnel management specialist in a personnel office that provided services to the Office of the Director, the Office of Administration and the Fogarty International Center.

"I guess I have as much knowledge about what goes on in all the various types of organizations at NIH as just about anyone and much more than most," he said.

Salas left NIH in 1977 for a supervisory position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He returned in November 1980 as chief of the NINDS Personnel Management Branch — a position he held for 17 years. In 1988, he spent nearly 9 months with the government affairs committee in the U.S. Senate as an OPM LEGIS fellow. He says that experience gave him "a great appreciation for the complexities of the legislative process." Salas became the assistant executive officer, NINDS, in 1997.

In 1998, he served as president of the NIH Hispanic Employee Organization and was active in efforts to improve Hispanic representation at NIH. Salas, an avid golfer, also served as president of the NIH Golf League in 1999. Throughout his career, he has received many honors including a Public Health Service Special Recognition Award in 1990 and the NIH Director's Award in 1987.

"NIH is considered the shining star of the federal government and I think NINDS is the brightest spot within that star," said Salas. In retirement, he plans to move back to New Mexico, which he fondly calls "the land of enchantment."

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