It is not always easy to finesse leadership with a quiet, inspirational strength—but having the drive to motivate others for professional growth comes naturally to HEALTH Research Institute’s Program Manager II, Safiya Friday.
The effervescence, wisdom, and leadership that Safiya Friday brings to the Institute has recently been recognized with a University of Houston Division of Research Staff Excellence Award.
Honored as an indispensable “powerhouse” of the team, Friday has been given the award for her significant contributions on behalf of the HEALTH Research Institute (HRI) and the HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention (RCMI).
“She is a great communicator, ambitious, inspirational and motivational to other staff members in the Institute and help move the program forward,” The University of Houston award announcement states.
One of Friday’s exceptional talents is management of the HRI’s multiple research projects and business operations—from coordination of cross-collaborative efforts within the Institute and external stakeholders, to serving as an invaluable liaison for the HRI’s Founder and Director, Dr. Ezemenari Obasi.
“It’s been a while since I have worked with such high-performing, dynamic, and kind individuals. Work culture is challenging to establish, and I am appreciative to work with a team of individuals who are extremely capable and make collaboration seamless” Friday said.
Friday has served in the program management leadership role for nearly two years and strongly embraces the health-equity mission of the HEALTH Research Institute.
“I have always had a personal attachment to the advancement of under-resourced communities because as a first generation American of migrant Caribbean parents from the island of Grenada, I am able to identify with challenges faced by inequitable neighborhoods,” Friday said. “It is significant that the HRI is a frontline advocate of health disparity in such neighborhoods.”
Garnering experience from a background in holistic healthcare, Friday has previously collaborated with a Grenadian-based non-profit, “Refreshed: Sacred Healing Retreat,” which focuses on nature-based therapies that address behavioral and physiological issues.
“Establishment of a balanced lifestyle works hand-in hand with identification of biological and environmental stressors that can be mitigated through the use of natural resources along with healthcare services,” Friday said.
During her tenure at the HEALTH Research Institute, Friday has witnessed the Institute’s expanded research efforts with the support of a National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) sponsored $11.8 million grant (U54MD015946, PI: Ezemenari M. Obasi). She has also observed first-hand the visionary work of Dr. Obasi.
“Dr. Obasi is an unmatched trailblazer in the research community who continues to pioneer ways to bridge the translational gap between research findings and communities that are undoubtedly in need of health resources and education,” Friday said. “Dr. Obasi supports researchers’ commitment to pour back into the community with useful strategies for health advancement versus community members simply being used as a topic of interest.”
Self-effacing and courageous about tackling new projects, Friday is looking forward to working and growing with HEALTH Research Institute in the years ahead.
“I look forward to the Institute’s participation in more outreach engagements to help quantify our reach and expand our visibility because we have so much to offer,” Friday said.
The cohesive strength of the team lies in the people and their dynamic personalities who drive the HEALTH Research Institute, Friday emphasized.
“I love that everyone is dedicated to and motivated by their work,” Friday said. By Alison Medley