Thoughts from the Dean

Serving those in need, in Boston and Beyond

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June 11, 2013
Serving those in need, in Boston and Beyond

As dean of Harvard Medical School, I have the privilege of working with countless students, faculty and staff  who are dedicated to aiding others—by sharing their knowledge here in Boston and traversing the country and continents to aid disadvantaged populations.

At HMS we recently celebrated the recipients of the 2013 Dean’s Community Service Award.  This award honored seven members of the HMS community who embody a remarkable sense of purpose.  I was moved by their generosity of spirit and the impact of their achievements.

The awards were first bestowed in 1999 and are administered by Joan Reede, dean for Diversity and Community Partnership, and the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership. Over the past 14 years, these awards have recognized the contributions of 92 individuals to 87 organizations from our local, regional, national and international communities.  These organizations receive cash awards from HMS to help them further their important work.

The 2013 recipients, selected from 86 outstanding nominations, have made tremendous contributions to diverse populations on an impressively broad scale, from treating vascular birth defects in underserved children in Vietnam, to enhancing the health and educational needs of Tanzania’s impoverished youth.

One awardee mentors individuals with disabling conditions who dream of athletic achievement. Another recipient helps to empower the poor of Sri Lanka through micro-enterprise development. Yet another works with young black men in Boston to promote peace, positive self-image, healthy lifestyles and education.

These individuals are activists and ambassadors for HMS who have dedicated a meaningful aspect of their life’s work to improving health care in the U.S. and around the world.  I invite you to learn more about these inspiring recipients and the organizations they serve here.

Among these extraordinary individuals, I want to express my personal admiration for my colleague HMS Dean for Students Nancy Oriol, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement award for her commitment to The Family Van, an innovative mobile health clinic that has been providing curbside care to people living in Boston’s underserved neighborhoods for more than 20 years.  

Nancy co-founded The Family Van in 1992, on Martin Luther King Day. The program has since served more than 60,000 people, connecting them with local health and social service agencies. Nancy’s pioneering work has been replicated nationally, and similar mobile clinic programs now serve an estimated two million people across the United States.

As always, it was a pleasure to celebrate these truly remarkable members of the HMS community. I am honored to recognize the countless hours they devote to advancing our mission of outreach and service.