Environmental Factor, September 2006, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Ebony Bookman Appointed Director's Chief of Staff
By Eddy Ball
Just a few weeks into her new job, Ebony Bookman may still be one of the newest faces at NIEHS. Even so, she has already had plenty of time to experience the challenges of her new position as Chief of Staff for NIEHS Director David A. Schwartz. After several long days filled with careful attention to details, she says she is just as happy with her new work as she looks in her photograph. For Bookman, apparently life is best lived full speed ahead, working for the ideals she values.
With Bookman's education and career experiences, she seems almost destined from the outset to eventually land at NIEHS. After finishing her undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, the Charlotte native completed her masters in genetic counseling and her doctorate in human genetics with a concentration in pharmaco-genetics at Howard University in Washington, DC. It was at Howard that she developed her interest in integrated research through her work with Howard's Alcohol Research Center and National Human Genome Center. She combined her interests in a dissertation analyzing associations among gene sequence variants, race, personality, population genetics and addiction. Her most recent position as a research geneticist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offered her an opportunity to serve as a project officer and helped her realize that she had major strengths as an administrator as well as a scientist. NIEHS thought the combination was a perfect match for the job, and Bookman accepted the offer to come back home to her native North Carolina.
According to Bookman, Schwartz sums up her position in three words, "my right hand." In addition to directing Office of Director (OD), she coordinates the efforts of senior staff to realize the goals of NIEHS Strategic Plan, and she tracks staff assignments, biomedical research programs and program management initiatives. Bookman plays a key role in advising the director on the implications of NIEHS-wide activities, often assists the director with his various publics and helps the director implement executive policies and decisions.
During her time away from the fast-paced environment of the OD, Bookman stays in shape by running, sometimes ten miles or more when time permits. She also has remained active in her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and gives back to her community by volunteering in the schools, and tutoring and mentoring with Big Brothers and Sisters of America. She has always valued her family ties and frequently visits relatives in Charlotte and elsewhere in North Carolina.