Farewell from Holly Fernandez Lynch, Petrie-Flom Executive Director from 2012-2017 image

Petrie-Flom Center, August 4, 2017
Holly Fernandez Lynch (Outgoing Executive Director)


Check out our brief retrospective on Holly's time at Petrie-Flom on Twitter!

Dear Petrie-Flom Community, 

Today marks my last day as the Petrie-Flom Center’s Executive Director. In September, I will embark on the next phase of my career, joining the faculty at the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. I am thrilled to have found such a wonderful successor in Carmel Shachar, the Center’s new Executive Director, and I look forward to watching the Petrie-Flom Center continue to grow and thrive over many years to come.

The Center has been my intellectual home, off and on, for over a decade. Faculty Director Glenn Cohen and I joined the Center together in 2006, as “fellow” fellows in the inaugural class of post-docs, me fresh on the heels of my law school graduation and the bar exam. Glenn was then, as he remains today, a wonderful colleague and friend, warmly offering constructive comments on my work and making me take a break from writing for lunch each day. While I went on to try my hand at other things—law practice, government work, and service to President Obama’s bioethics commission—Glenn joined the faculty at HLS, and welcomed me back to Petrie-Flom with open arms as a repeat Academic Fellow in 2011, then Executive Director in 2012. We have been inseparable ever since, building and growing the Center, writing together, leading various collaborative projects, and hosting a bevy of conferences and events. I cannot thank you enough, Glenn, for the amazing opportunities your confidence in me has helped facilitate. And happily, we have a number of ongoing projects that will allow for continued collaboration.

I have also had the pleasure to work with a tremendous staff over the years. As anyone who has participated in a Petrie-Flom event can attest, Cristine Hutchison-Jones, the Center’s Administrative Director, runs a tight ship! I have benefitted tremendously from Crissy’s attention to detail and administrative prowess for the past four years, with never a ball dropped. Justin Leahey, our Project Coordinator, is just as wonderful, managing the Center’s public face on social media and our blog, and helping out with all sorts of projects to make sure Center runs smoothly. Good help is hard to find, and you two are among the best! Thank you for all you do. 

One of the best parts of this job has been the chance to collaborate with such wonderful colleagues around Harvard and at institutions across the country and around the world. I have enjoyed working with so many of you through the full range of the Center’s activities. Thanks to you, there’s never been a dull moment, and I have learned from the experts about a wide variety of topics at the intersection of health law policy, biotechnology, and bioethics. I hope that our paths will continue to cross and that we will forge new opportunities for collaboration.

The Petrie-Flom Center will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am grateful to have played a part in growing and shaping the Center over the past five years. In 2012, we had no blog and no social media presence, no journal, no sponsored research projects, no formal collaborative programs. We hosted few visitors, had no official faculty affiliates and—as Crissy can tell you—hosted far fewer events and conferences. Today, our blog Bill of Health is among the leading resources in academic health law; the Journal of Law and Biosciences is thriving; we have done important research related to football player health, recruitment to clinical trials, and patient-centered outcomes research; we have developed important policy-focused collaborations on law and applied neuroscience, as well as advanced care and health policy; we have forged close collaborations with our colleagues at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics; we have hosted visitors from around the world; we have assembled a wonderful group of faculty affiliates; and we have become a convening force in our field. The work has been engaging, fulfilling, and fun—I have loved being a part of it.

I know that Carmel is full of fresh new ideas, and that this list will be even longer five years from now. I can’t wait to see where she and Glenn will take the Center from here—I will be watching, attending Center conferences, utilizing Center resources, and cheering you on! 

Thank you for everything,