OD’s Dixon Retires After 37 Years of Federal Service
Hilda Dixon, who spent 37 years in federal service, including the last 21 at NIH, has retired. Most recently, she had served as deputy director of the NIH Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management.
Dixon came to NIH in 1990 as the EEO officer for the Office of the Director until consolidation of the NIH EEO Program in 2005. For many years, she coordinated the OD EEO advisory committee, which each year recommended to the NIH deputy director a workplan to address employee concerns.
Before joining NIH, she had worked for 10 years at USDA and 6 years at HUD.
Over the course of her two decades here, she had developed several creative initiatives to address employee well-being and improve interpersonal relationships at work. Dixon established a Powwow Outreach Initiative in 2001 to facilitate employment of Native American students as well as permanent employees, and to partner with colleges and universities. The initiative saw her and her coworkers traveling all over the country, staffing display tables, distributing pamphlets and talking to various Native American populations about working at NIH.
Dixon also won a Champion Award that year for outstanding contributions to the Workplace Diversity Initiative.
The next year, she worked on an NIH/OD version of the Department of Health and Human Services’s Wake Up and Walk Initiative, which encouraged employees to break up their workday with some kind of physical activity—a brief workout or a walk around campus.
Before that, there were several other innovative workforce morale and improvement programs fostered by the OD EEO advisory committee, including the RESPECT campaign, which offered training and lectures on getting along in office and lab settings, and a mentorship program that linked longtime and senior OD staff with newcomers and entry-level employees.
At the core, Dixon said, her goal was always to help build, nurture and support the best, most diverse workforce in government.
“Your work is vital,” she said, in parting thoughts to NIH colleagues and coworkers, “and we are all the better for it.”
Dixon received numerous awards and honors, including the NIH Merit Award. She also twice earned the NIH Director’s Award: in 2005 for her role in restructuring the agency’s EEO and diversity programs, and in 2001, for her leadership in coordinating and implementing special initiatives to enhance the quality of worklife for employees.
In retirement, Dixon plans to be nearly as busy as she was when working full time. “I have lots to do,” she said, smiling. “I’ll continue to work in the community, but I also intend on traveling, reading and celebrating each day.”
NICHD Alumna Topper Mourned
Hildegard P. Topper, 78, a long-time NIH employee, passed away in Palm Desert, Calif. on Sept. 10, 2011, after a battle with cancer. She spent more than 25 years at NIH, where she worked in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in extramural grant administration.
She leaves behind many friends and former colleagues throughout NIH, where her late husband, Dr. Yale Topper, was a senior scientist and lab chief for many years in the arthritis institute.
Hildegard Pokorny was born in Vienna, Austria, and came to the U.S. as an exchange student in 1949 and later attended Wellesley College. She married Dr. Yale Topper in 1956 and they lived in Bethesda, where they raised their four children.
In 1998, she moved to Palm Desert but kept in touch with many of her NIH friends. She is survived by her children David, Nina, Jamie and Ethan; her sister Elfriede; her brothers Helmut and Rudolph and nine grandchildren.
20 Years of Jak-STAT Research Marked
NIAMS, NHLBI and NIDDK recently co-sponsored “The Jak-STAT Pathway: 20 Years from Discovery to Drugs.” The event celebrated the 20th year of Jak-STAT research, highlighting recent basic developments in the field, relevance to diseases and new therapeutics. The pathway has become a paradigm in signal transduction, but has also shed light on a number of diseases ranging from immunodeficiencies to hematological malignancies. The 3-day meeting convened an international team of industry, academia and government scientists who focused on the translational advances that have arisen from the basic discoveries of the Jak-STAT pathway. Organizers included (from l) Dr. James Darnell, Rockefeller University; Dr. Richard Jove, City of Hope; Dr. Lothar Hennighausen, NIDDK; Dr. John O’Shea, NIAMS; Dr. David Levy, NYU; and Dr. Warren Leonard, NHLBI.
APAO Presents Annual Awards
The NIH Asian and Pacific Islander American Organization held its annual awards ceremony on Dec. 12, 2011. Winning the award for excellence in management of research programs was NIH director Dr. Francis Collins. Accepting the honor on his behalf was NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak (r), who also gave brief remarks. Winning scientific achievement awards were Dr. Yingzi Yang (c) of NHGRI and Dr. Ying E. Zhang of NCI.