Flemming Award honors unique work of feds

Tuesday - 6/22/2010, 4:17pm EDT

Kana Enomoto, Flemming Award winner, principal senior advisor to the administrator, SAMHSA

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Have you ever thought your federal service has gone unnoticed?

The Arthur S. Flemming Award was established in 1948 to honor outstanding federal employees.

Each year, up to 12 are presented each year in three categories: Applied Science, Basic Science and Managerial or Legal Achievement.

Kana Enomoto is one of the most recent recipients.

She was honored for her commitment and leadership as the principal senior advisor to the administrator at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and says she's really proud of the work that her agency's done.

"We are the agency that makes sure that Americans know that behavioral health problems can be prevented, they can be treated and that recovery is possible. The work of our agency is extremely important to the health of the nation, yet it's really an unrecognized issue."

She tells the DorobekInsider that came in with a research and clinical background and started out doing programatic work.

She then moved into public policy, where she worked on reports for the Surgeon General and White House.

During the presidential transition, she was acting deputy administrator, where she gained managerial experience.

"It had always been my belief in the past that I didn't want to move into management. I didn't want to do operations because I felt so strongly about the services and the policies and the science. But, taking a walk on the outside was great because I got to understand how operations really [supports] everything that we want to do on the policy and programatic side. It really is kind of hand and glove."

The SAMHSA has started using social media in order to get their message out and let the public know what resources are available to those who have problems.

They also work with the Ad Council, and have the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK, as well as other resources.

"The span of behavioral health issues is so broad. We're affected by the economy. We're affected by housing prices, homelessness, unemployment, family violence, the conflicts [in Iraq and Afghanistan] and returning veterans."

Enomoto wasn't always a federal employee, nor did she start out with the goal of being one. She explains she began her career as a clinician and researcher in a clinical psychology PhD program.

"In that kind of work, you either do one-on-one clinical work or group work or research that someday will get published and some people will read it in a journal -- and you hope 40 people read it. I felt continually frustrated [and thought] there has to be a bigger picture to this."

And she found that bigger picture at SAMHSA.

"I've worked in this agency for 12 years, and I've loved every day of coming to work because I've realized this is the place where I can make a difference -- not just one person at a time, but [in] communities, states and the whole nation."


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