Speakers

Blacksher Event Photo

Erika Blacksher, Ph. D.

Reorienting U.S. Health Reform Toward Health for All

Erika Blacksher, Ph.D., is a pioneering bioethicist who joined the Hastings Center as a Research Scholar in Fall 2008 after two years as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University. Her research examines the ethical and policy implications of the social determinants of health and the well-documented and widening social inequalities in the U.S. population. She is particularly interested in questions related to health system reform, children's health inequalities and the developmental origins of health, theories of health justice, and the ethics and politics of health promotion.

Dr. Blacksher holds a Ph.D. in bioethics from the University of Virginia and undergraduate degrees in both philosophy and journalism from the University of Kansas.

In addition to her work in normative ethics, Dr. Blacksher has developed a line of empirical inquiry to identify the public's values and priorities as they relate to social inequalities in health. At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she created a national network of state leaders and statewide coalitions to improve end-of-life care practices and policies. At the Center for Practical Bioethics, Dr. Blacksher developed a health and healthcare disparities initiative, and oversaw an ethics rotation for medical students.

Dr. Blacksher has published in more than forty leading bioethics journals on topics that include disparities in health and health care, healthy behavior policies, and children's health inequalities, among other topics. Her more than forty guest lectures and conference presentations have covered a range of topics such as the ethics of preventing unrelieved pain, the ethics of reproductive health, and community-based models for health care reform.

Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon

Spinning Health Care: A Case of Vertigo

Norman Solomon is an award-winning author and nationally syndicated columnist on media and politics who has been hailed as a "formidable thinker and activist" and "one of the sharpest-media-watchers in the business." He is a founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a national consortium of policy researchers and analysts. He has been writing the weekly "Media Beat" column since 1992.

As an elected Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention from California, Solomon worked with other delegates to insert the principle of "guaranteed health care for all" into the party's 2008 platform. He is co-chair of the national Healthcare Not Warfare campaign, launched nearly two years ago by Progressive Democrats of America.

An author and journalist with a distinguished career in covering critical social issues and the media which report on them, Mr. Solomon has generated national acclaim for his exhaustive research and fearless analysis of politics and the media. Solomon's 2005 book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "brutally persuasive" and "a must-read for those who would like greater context with their bitter morning coffee, or to arm themselves for the debates about Iraq that are still to come."

A collection of Solomon's columns won the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language. The award, presented by the National Council of Teachers of English, honored Solomon's book "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media." In the introduction to that book, Jonathan Kozol wrote: "The tradition of Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, and I.F. Stone does not get much attention these days in the mainstream press ... but that tradition is alive and well in this collection of courageously irreverent columns on the media by Norman Solomon. ... He fights the good fight without fear of consequence. He courts no favors. He writes responsibly and is meticulous on details, but he does not choke on false civility."

Solomon's books include "Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You" (2002), "Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News (1997)," "The Trouble With Dilbert: How Corporate Culture Gets the Last Laugh (1997)," "False Hope: The Politics of Illusion in the Clinton Era (1994)," "The Power of Babble: The Politician's Dictionary of Buzzwords and Doubletalk for Every Occasion (1992)," and "Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America's Experience With Atomic Radiation (1982)." His latest book is "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State" (2007).

Solomon has appeared as a guest on many media outlets including the PBS "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," public radio's "Marketplace," and NPR's "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition" and "Talk of the Nation." In addition, Solomon appeared on such international outlets as the BBC Radio World Service, CBC Radio, CBC Television, Voice of America, Al-Jazeera Television, Australia's ABC television and radio, SBS radio networks, and radio outlets in Ireland and South Africa.

Solomon's op-ed articles have appeared in a range of newspapers including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, New York Times, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun. His articles have also appeared in the International Herald Tribune, Canada's Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the Jordan Times.

Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler

Dr. Stephanie Woodhandler

Health Reform: The Need for Single Payer Health Insurance

Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an advocate for guaranteed access to health care for all members of society, including the forty-seven million Americans currently without medical insurance. In 1986 she helped found Physicians for a National Health Program, a not-for-profit organization for physicians, medical students, and other health care professionals who support a national health insurance program.

Dr. Woolhandler graduated with her doctor of medicine degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in 1979. She did her internship and residency at the University of California-San Francisco, and earned her master's degree in public health at the University of California-Berkeley. Dr. Woolhandler moved to Massachusetts and began a medical residency at The Cambridge Hospital, where she served as the National Health Services Research Fellow in general internal medicine from 1986 to 1987.

In discussing her choice of medicine as a career. Dr. Woolhandler recalled, "After several years of working in the movement against the Vietnam War, I sought a career that would allow me to continue my work for social change. I also loved math and science. Medicine was a career that allowed me to combine both my interests...I could reach a large audience for progressive ideas by publishing in medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the JAMA."

On the Harvard faculty since 1987, Dr. Woolhandler has published widely, including a co-authored volume Bleeding the Patient: The Consequences of Corporate Health Care, published in 2000. She studies the inequalities in health and health care, administrative costs in medicine, and national health insurance. The organization she helped found, Physicians for a National Health Program, now has more than ten thousand physician members. Over the past decade, Dr. Woolhandler has trained younger researchers in techniques and strategies of scholarship to bring about social change.

At Harvard, Dr. Woolhandler serves as co-director of the school's general internal medicine fellowship program. Numerous honors and awards attest to her contributions to health care. In 1990 she was the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow for the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. In 1994 she received the Edward K. Barsky Award from the Physicians Forum and in 1996 the Ethical Culture Society named her "Humanist of the Year."