The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has selected Mary Affeldt, a senior manager at the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), to be its Executive Officer. She replaces Frederick Walker, who retired in January.
"Having the right person in this key leadership position is crucial for any institute," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The executive officer provides the managerial leadership that allows the research to get done. Mary Affeldt is the right person for this post. She's bright, organized and extremely energetic. I am delighted that the science and the culture of NHGRI attracted someone of her caliber to this vital position."
Mrs. Affeldt comes to NHGRI with 25 years of general administrative experience. Since 1988 she has been the chief of the Administrative Management Branch for NIDA's Intramural Research Program. In this capacity, she has overseen the development of laboratory facilities for NIDA in the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) Biomedical Research Center in Baltimore, which houses both the NIDA and National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Programs. She also managed complex reorganizations, improved organizational performance through the use of better business practices and built a strong infrastructure to support the research.
"The business vision must work hand-in-hand with the scientific vision of the institute," Mrs. Affeldt said. "It's a marriage, really, a blending of the business and science visions and skills. And NHGRI has compelling science that, I believe, will grow and expand over time. Since every disease has a genetic component, NHGRI's research intersects with the work of every institute."
Mrs. Affeldt entered government as an administrative assistant in 1980, joining NIDA when it was part of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, and before NIDA was later made part of NIH. Over the years, she moved up the administrative ranks, taking on increasingly large and complex projects, such as moving the NIDA Intramural Research Program - initially established in Lexington, Ky. as part of the U.S. Public Health Service in 1935, and later a part of the Bureau of Prisons - to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus in Baltimore.
She now brings her leadership and management skills to NHGRI. "I feel it is the right time for me personally and professionally," Mrs. Affeldt said. Moreover, she sees NHGRI, established in 1997 and the second youngest institute at NIH, as a place where there are exciting opportunities to shape a still-growing organization.
Like many leaders in the 27 institutes and centers that make up NIH, Mrs. Affeldt has been called on to assist in numerous NIH-wide projects. For example, she worked on developing and implementing the administrative officer competency model, which is designed to help managers recruit the right people with the right skills as well as strengthen and improve the competencies of administrative staff throughout NIH. "It is about building a highly talented administrative workforce to lead NIH into the future at all levels," she said.
Other NIH-wide committees on which Mrs. Affeldt has served include many executive management initiatives such as the Deputy Director for Management Seminar Series; the NIH Change Management Governance Committee; the NIH Business Systems Change Management Committee; and the Deputy Director for Management Lecture Series. She has also been the co-chair of the NIDA Intramural Minority Research and Training Committee for the past six years.
Mrs. Affeldt moved to Montgomery County, Maryland, from Hawaii in her senior year of high school. She received her B.S. in Business Administration from Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Md., and an M.S. in Management from the University of Maryland, University College in College Park. Mrs. Affeldt is married and lives in Ellicott City, Md. In her free time, she downhill skis with her family and enjoys watching her husband and son ride their dirt bikes on their farm in Western Maryland.
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Last Reviewed: December 25, 2012