Judith Walters, 2018 NIH Work/Life and Well-Being Champion
What makes a work life champion? The answer might surprise you.
Dr. Judith Walters was named the NIH Work/Life and Well-Being Champion as a part of the 2018 NIH Director's Awards Ceremony held on August 29. This award recognizes one supervisor's exceptional performance or special efforts in supporting employees' work-life and well-being while maintaining or improving productivity in support of the agency's mission. Her accomplishments in this regard are many. As one of the few women Principal Investigators in her generation at NINDS, she has consistently sought to support her own trainees' well-being as well as those in the broader NIH intramural research community. From her involvement in the Women Scientists Advisors (WSA) Committee, to her volunteer role as the Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director for Intramural Research for Women Scientists, she has championed multiple well-being initiatives, from anti-harassment initiatives to family-friendly policies and financial assistance for child care. At a more personal level, she has mentored over 40 postbacs, graduate students and postdocs.
Dr. Walters has been a researcher at NINDS for 44 years in the Experimental Therapeutics Branch and Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section.
Dr. Walters provided the following perspective on the value of supporting employees with their work-life needs: "Supporting the work-life balance needs of our trainees and staff can really enhance lab diversity, productivity and collaborative energy. Workforce diversity has been shown to promote innovation and cutting-edge research. Flexibility and accommodation of individual work-life needs promotes recruitment and retention of talent, encourages collaboration and group effort, and supports a happy, enthusiastic and engaged research team. This is a win-win environment for lab managers and workers!"
As to how she maintains balance in her own life? She first recognizes that her own life comes with challenges and some imbalance, and that there is no rulebook to follow, or magic key to success, but she insists that you simply do what you love.
It is her own curiosity of how people find balance, growth, and understanding that helps her find the balance.
If you know a supervisor worthy of this award, consider nominating them for the 2019 Work/Life and Well-Being Champion Award. The nomination process kicks off in late November, so be on the lookout for more information.