EDI Spotlight - Amanda Griffin


Amanda - 1

I am excited to be this month’s selection for the BIAC EDI Spotlight! I can show off our grandbabies! I met my partner, Keith, several years ago and immediately gained a family full of children and one granddaughter (4 years old at the time). Since then, three more grandkids joined the family (see picture of Keith and I with all four this summer, ages 1 week to 10 years)!

You may know me as Amanda, but our family calls me “Moonda” or as our one-year-old grandson who is still developing words says: “Moo-Moo” or sometimes “Ma-Moo.” He calls Keith, “Pa-Poo.”

What is your role at BIAC and what does a typical day look like for you?

Keeping it simple, my typical day as BIAC’s Associate Director for Business Administration involves a ton of fiscal analyses; responding to user emails and other correspondence; resolving scanner calendar issues; approving personnel and financial transactions that are part of our daily business practices; and attending meetings with SOM leadership. I prepare the figures for our annual budget process for the Dean’s office with the help of Elena who manages the final grant numbers and Sharena who helps with the departmental funds. During the rest of the year, we work on projections to stay as close to our budget as possible. It is important to budget our major expenses each year so that we do not overspend our budgets. When necessary, we will seek alternate resources when unanticipated activity occurs (the scanner can malfunction from time to time!). I also oversee our performance evaluation process each spring and follow the School of Medicine’s guidelines when it comes time to input the year’s merit increases that go into effect July 1 of each year. I also help employees work through issues and concerns with (or without) their supervisors when needed related to personnel or performance related matters.

You are currently a member of BIAC’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. What inspired you to get involved?


I have always enjoyed working/serving in roles that help others. In high school, I worked in a restaurant as a server for three years until I moved to NC for college. At UNC, (Go Heels!), I worked as a student employee in the International Center (Visa Office) for three of my four years, serving the foreign national population. My former bosses can all be credited for instilling a desire to provide top notch customer service to those I work with and provide service for. I continue to use those skills in my role today as I strive to find answers to any puzzle that I face.

Sharena and I started our EDI efforts together back in 2019 (I think it was). We organized the first Women of BIAC (WoB) meeting that August. We held our second WoB lunch in March right before BIAC shut down for the pandemic. I can remember how lively and interactive the discussions were at these meetings. Moving forward to this year, our first in-person lunch meeting since more folks have started returning to the office on a regular basis offered a wonderful opportunity for new staff to meet “experienced” staff and vice versa.

I want to help create an environment where ALL members of BIAC regardless of position, race, gender, age feel that their voice is heard, and they are contributing. International culture was a large part of my studies at UNC. I love to learn about an individual’s background and where they come from. I want to take the time to learn about the diverse backgrounds of our staff as they join BIAC.


Do you have a moment or experience when the need for improving equity, diversity, and inclusion in an academic or research setting felt especially urgent or important to you personally that you could share?


I believe an open-door policy should exist in all work environments, especially coming from administrator roles. When staff feel isolated or shut out, who can they turn to? Research staff should feel supported by their supervisors (typically a PI) and included in their labs; office staff should feel supported by their leadership. As an administrative leader at BIAC, my door is open to anyone at BIAC that has concerns to be shared in confidence. Whether you need me to listen or help you escalate it to another level. I know there are times (across Duke) where individuals have felt lost with no one to turn to. I know at BIAC, Sharena and I both have open door policies related to this! While this has been quite literally impaired by the pandemic, our front office staff have not stopped working during the pandemic. If we are not in the office, we are easily an email or phone call away. You will start to see me in the office more regularly moving forward. Unless I am on a call, if I am here, my door is open, and you are welcome to stop in!


What do you see as the top challenges and opportunities for BIAC over the next year?


Some of our research investigators' science is so specific it can be hard to create a diverse team of researchers. This creates a challenge. We must dig deep during recruitment to diversify our team. If it creates more work during the hiring process so be it. You cannot diminish the value that a diverse team would bring to the table.

Creating our EDI committee has already allowed us to “hear” our staff. We can easily work each day focusing on usual daily responsibilities that it is easy to get lost on a single-track course. Having a diverse committee that is open to new members at any time allows us to ensure we include ALL perspectives when we plan events or center wide shifts to better accommodate our staff’s needs.

Where do you see yourself in five years?


In five years, I will be nearing Year 23 at BIAC! After that many years, I do not see myself going anywhere else. Although I may be taking more vacations, as I should have plenty of vacation time to use. I will have watched myself grow substantially over the last couple of decades and I will still be learning how to do my job! That is Duke for you! As soon as you learn how to use a new system flawlessly, they change it to something else!


What’s something many people may not know about you?


I have learned a lot about early onset Alzheimer’s disease in the last 4 years as Keith’s mom was diagnosed with dementia in 2019 at 62 years of age. He became her primary caregiver in 2019 before moving to Durham. She lived with us for a couple of years before it became unsafe to leave her home alone while we were at work. She is still living in Durham with 24-hour care now and we visit regularly. Those first two years were tough. Exhaustion physically and mentally can wear a person down. And then the idea of having to depend on placement for her care. You do not want to do that to a parent, but you know it is best. Looking back now, we know it was best as she is thriving having social interaction around her (at least until it is a difficult day).  I am just thankful for all the amazing research that is taking place at BIAC, Duke, and around the world studying all the forms of dementia because it can be such a cruel disease!


What passions or hobbies do you have outside of Duke?


Visiting my Family: When my parents retired, they moved from Virginia to the beaches of NC! I try to head East (to Kill Devil Hills, NC) as often as possible to enjoy the sun, sand, ocean, and some home cooking as much as possible. I love spending time with my family. My family is huge and spread out between NC, VA, and TN. It always seems like we are on the go, so having downtime when we travel is important! I always feel like I need an extra day off after we have visited our family!










Photo: My sister, two nieces, and grandmother with me.

Photo: Left to Right: granddaughter, daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter, son, Keith, me, daughter, Athena.



Taking Care of 2 Furry Giants:  Keith and I have two dogs, Athena, a 4-year-old German Shepherd/ Rottweiler/ Doberman mix who is the sweetest dog you would ever meet (unless you try to hurt me); and then Persephone, “Persie”, a Presa Canario Mastiff who is 2. Everyone who meets Persie instantly says she looks like a tiger! She must be introduced. Her instinct is to protect her house and her people, especially me. When introduced she is a love bug (all 150 pounds of her).  However, it seems like her main goal in life is to not let anyone be a threat to me. I guess it’s a good thing that I have two amazing guard dogs! Both girls have a combined weight of about 260 pounds! Bath time is fun! It takes both Keith and I to give Persie a bath!           

Photo Below: My Mom and Step-Dad at the beach with our pups.










In the Kitchen: I love to cook, especially baking! My neighbors also enjoy it when I bake because they get to test samples! I just made three batches of chocolate chip cookies (about 180 cookies) to take to Virginia for my sister’s fundraiser dinner (she is running for Sheriff in my hometown).

In the Garden: Lastly, I have been spending a LOT of time in our flower beds. I went from a black thumb to a green thumb over the last couple of years. We have really been transforming our yard at the house!


Any other fun facts about yourself that you might want to share with us?When Keith and I first started dating, he lived in the NC mountains (Bryson City). I would travel there often on the weekends. I finally convinced him to move to Durham because that drive got old quickly! I love the sunrises and sunsets, the peaceful serenity that the mountains provide, and the snowy days that would come! We would still make trips back to visit his grandparents before they passed away in 2020 and early 2021. We also stop on the way through to see the kids in TN.


Those who have worked with me for a while know that I graduated from that other BLUE school down the road. If you visit my office, you will know as soon as you walk in! I have no qualms with working for the darker shade of Blue, especially during March Madness! GO HEELS!