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The Science of Compassion - Town Hall Speaker Bios

Dr. Nancy Berlinger

Nancy Berlinger, PhD, MDiv
Deputy Director and Research Scholar, The Hastings Center

Nancy Berlinger is a Research Scholar at The Hastings Center, an independent, nonprofit bioethics research institute based in Garrison, New York.

Her work focuses on ethical issues in the organization and delivery of health care, including end-of-life care, palliative care, cancer care, patient safety, and ethics education for health care professionals. She has a special interest in the management of cancer as a chronic illness. Her current research projects include the first revision of The Hastings Center’s ethics guidelines on end-of-life care,  published in 1987. She has also conducted several recent projects on the role of board-certified chaplains in the delivery of interdisciplinary palliative care for adult and pediatric patients.

She teaches health care ethics to graduate students at the Yale School of Nursing and lectures frequently in medical schools and health care institutions in the United States and internationally. She is a commentator on topics in health care ethics and public policy for National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Washington Post; and other national, regional, and local media.

She is a graduate of Smith College and holds the PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow and the MDiv in Ethics from Union Theological Seminary.

Dr. Susan Dentzer

Susan Dentzer
Editor-in-Chief of Health Affairs; on-air Analyst on health issues with the PBS NewsHour

Susan Dentzer is the editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, the nation’s leading journal of health policy, and is an on-air analyst on health issues with the PBS NewsHour. She previously led the NewsHour’s health unit, reporting extensively on-air about health care reform debates. She is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the Council on Foreign Relations. Ms. Dentzer graduated from Dartmouth, is a trustee emerita of the college, and chaired the Dartmouth Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2004. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Overseers of Dartmouth Medical School and is an Overseer of the International Rescue Committee, a leading humanitarian organization. She is also on the board of directors of Research!America, an alliance working to make research to improve health a higher priority.

Dr. Joseph Fins

Joseph J. Fins, MD, FACP
E. William Davis, M.D., Jr. Professor of Medical Ethics; Chief, Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College

Dr. Joseph J. Fins is The E. William Davis, Jr. M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics and Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College where he also serves as Professor of Medicine (with Tenure), Professor of Public Health and Professor of Medicine in Psychiatry. He is also an Attending Physician and the Director of Medical Ethics at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center as well as a member of the Adjunct Faculty  of Rockefeller University where he is a Senior Attending Physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital. Dr. Fins is an elected Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

The author of A Palliative Ethic of Care: Clinical Wisdom at Life’s End (Jones and Bartlett, 2006),  Dr. Fins is President-Elect of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and serves as a member of the Hastings Center Board of Trustees. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, The New York Academy of Medicine and The Hastings Center as well as an elected member of the American Clinical and Climatological Association and Alpha Omega Alpha. He is currently completing a new book on Neuroethics and Disorders of Consciousness to be published by Cambridge University Press.

Dr. Marie T. Hilliard

Marie T. Hilliard, JCL, PhD, RN, MS, MA, DM
Director of Bioethics and Public Policy, The National Catholic Bioethics Center
Mistress of Ceremonies

Dr. Hilliard holds graduate degrees in Maternal-Child Health Nursing, Religious Studies, Canon Law and Professional Higher Education Administration (former tenured Division Chair in Catholic Higher Education). She has an extensive professional background in medical ethics and public policy and advocacy (former Director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference). She is a registered nurse who has been substantially involved in health care regulation at the state and national levels for twelve years (former Executive Officer, Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing; Area IV Director, The National Council of State Boards of Nursing). In addition, she is a canon lawyer and serves as a resource for the United States Bishops on the implementation of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services as well as Church - State relations.  Dr. Hilliard has published extensively and was awarded 2nd place by the Catholic Press Association for “Best Essay” in a Scholarly Magazine (2008).

The Connecticut League for Nursing has recognized Dr. Hilliard for her outstanding contributions to nursing in Connecticut, and she has been recognized as well by the Connecticut Nurses' Association with the Agnes Ohlson Award for Outstanding Contribution to Nursing through Political Action. She has served as a board member of a number of health care oriented agencies and coalitions, and continues to serve as a member of the board of directors of a Catholic seminary. She has served for two terms as an elected president of both the Connecticut League for Nursing and on the Statewide Steering Committee of the Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care. She is the former chair of the National Advisory Council of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and serves on the Review Board for the Protection of Minors of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.  She chairs the Ethics Committee of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, of which she is a member of the Board of Directors.

Dr. Hilliard is a Colonel (Ret.) in the United States Army Reserve, where she served as a registered nurse for over 20 years. She served as the Acting Deputy Brigade Commander of the 5th Brigade, 98th Training Division, responsible for all United States Army Reserve medical training for the northeastern United States. She developed the northeastern U.S. Licensed Practical Nurse training program which was conducted out of Ft. Devens, Massachusetts and approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. She has been recognized by the Army for her contributions with the Meritorious Service Medal.

Dr. Hilliard has served as an advisor to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on their Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians. She has been a guest at the White House at the invitation of President Clinton and has consulted with President Bush on faith and community based initiatives.

Dr. Karla Holloway

Karla FC Holloway, PhD, MLS
James B. Duke Professor of English and Professor of Law at Duke University

Dr. Hollaway's research and teaching focus on African-American cultural studies, biocultural studies, ethics, and law. Her national and institutional board memberships, including the Greenwall Foundation’s Advisory Board in Bioethics and affiliation with Duke’s Institute on Care at the End of Life and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Medical Humanities and the History of Medicine reflect her interdisciplinary scholarly interests.

Since the (2002) publication of her book on death and dying in the African-American community, Passed On: African-American Mourning Stories, Professor Holloway has become a leader in discussions urging end-of-life care conversations in African-American communities and has shared these discussions in a variety of fora to a wide spectrum of audiences. Her public essays on race, many that focus on the issues of death and dying, have been featured on National Public Radio and op-eds in some of the nation’s leading newspapers. Professor Holloway is the author of over forty essays including the provocative “Accidental Communities: Race, Emergency Medicine and the Problem of Polyheme" in The American Journal of Bioethics, and "Private Bodies/Public Texts: Literature, Science, and States of Surveillance" Literature and Medicine (2007).

Dr. Holloway has authored seven books, including Private Bodies/Public Texts: Race, Gender, and a Cultural Bioethics, and has been the recipient of national awards and foundation fellowships recognizing her scholarship, most recently the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Residency Fellowship and the Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellowship at Harvard University’s Du Bois Institute.

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