The annual NCI Director’s Awards recognize exceptional individual and group performance or special efforts in support of NCI’s biomedical research mission. This year at the NCI Director’s Awards ceremony hosted on February 14, 2022, Cancer Prevention Fellows, Drs. Derek Brown, Alexandra Budenz, Ian Buller, Michelle Doose, Sydney O’Connor, Heather Platter, Esmeralda Ramírez-Peña, Naoise Synnott, and Jacqueline B. Vo were honored with NCI Director’s Emerging Leader Awards. This achievement was well-earned through their leadership of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program’s (CPFP) Fellows Advisory Board (FAB) during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This FAB leadership group was nominated by CPFP’s Learning & Development Specialist, Ms. Ann Maxson, and CPFP’s Director, Dr. Lisa Signorello, for spearheading innovative opportunities for fellows to develop skills and community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, as the NIH community transitioned to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of emerging leaders swiftly and selflessly volunteered to serve in leadership roles on the FAB. They were quick to recognize the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their fellow colleagues and to ramp up activities to serve them. They developed strategic programming for building virtual community and advocating for the needs of the fellows, for advancing the fellows’ scientific and professional development, and for promoting their professional networking. In these efforts, they cumulatively hosted dozens of innovative events that aimed to offset and ease the pandemic’s effects on fellows. They served as exemplary role models as they motivated and empowered NCI trainees to achieve and connect during a time of great uncertainty. Their empathy, vision, and commitment to their colleagues was a true demonstration of their outstanding leadership abilities.