Friday, October 07, 2005

Happy Birthday to the WBP!

From our founder, Kathryn Hinsch:

Pantry, Pilgrimage, and a Promise

One year ago today: A Tribute to Our Founding Scholars
Most of us are familiar with the storied beginnings of various software companies that were started by men in their garages. The Women's Bioethics Project was started, appropriately enough, by a woman in her kitchen.


I had just been granted a leave from my graduate studies at Harvard Divinity School and was back in Seattle. During my course of study at Harvard I realized that the world didn’t need another bioethicist, what it needed was a way to get women’s underrepresented voices heard in current bioethics debates. In studying bioethics and public policy, it was quite obvious that women’s life experiences were not being taken into account by the largely male population of lawmakers. Alone in my kitchen, I cooked up the idea of a think tank focused keenly on women and bioethics. It was one of those pivotal and defining moments.

I needed a reality check, so I contact Dr. Kelly Fryer-Edwards, a professor at the University of Washington, School of Medicine who I had met the summer before during my internship there. I asked Kelly if she would be willing to meet to discuss a wild idea. She was game.

We began to hold a series of dinners with Seattle-area scholars to discuss what this think tank could become. Over Thai food and beer, quiche and wine, we debated approaches, structures, issues, and funding. Week by week we went from a blank piece of paper to paragraphs to a framework. Before we knew it we had a strategic plan, and ultimately, a business plan. I thought my time at Microsoft had prepared me for intense debate, but these scholars pulled no punches. It was arduous yet scintillating work

Finally, last October, one year ago today, we felt confident that we had a workable plan. At that point Kelly and I decided it was time to make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of bioethics: The Hastings Center. Kelly arrived in upstate New York by train; I arrived by car with a malfunctioning GPS. We had an appointment to review our plan with the scholars at the Hastings Center, which became an exciting and turbulent day of intense feedback. That night Dr. Thomas Murray, President of The Hastings Center, and his wife Cynthia, took us to dinner. Over pasta and wine, Tom gave use wise counsel and pledged his support. The evening ended with hugs all around. The Women’s Bioethics Project had been born.

Kelly and I returned to Seattle with the formidable task of actually implementing the plan. We have worked hard and accomplished a lot since that autumn day in New York, more than we ever dreamed, really. I’d like to commemorate it by thanking the scholars who spent many hours building the Women’s Bioethics Project. They only asked for one thing: if the think tank became as successful as we all dreamed it would be, that I promise not to be seduced by the lure of media-grabbing issues like cloning but instead remember the bioethics issues like poverty, access to health care, and looking after children and the elderly that truly affect women’s lives. It is a promise I intend to keep.

Kathryn Hinsch


Founding Scholars:

Licia Carlson, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Seattle University Debbie Cool, PhD Co-founder, Ceptyr
Denise M. Dudzinski, PhD Assistant Professor, Medical History and Ethics, University of Washington, School of Medicine
Annette Dula, EdD Women's Studies, University of Colorado at Boulder
Marybeth Foglia, RN, MA National Center for Ethics in Health Care (VHA)
Kelly Fryer-Edwards, PhD Assistant Professor, Medical History and Ethics, University of Washington, School of Medicine
Sara Goering, PhD Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Washington
Suzanne Holland, PhD Associate Professor and Chair of Religious and Social Ethics, University of Puget Sound
Maggie Hooks, MD Harborview Medical Center Helene Starks, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor, Medical History and Ethics, University of Washington, School of Medicine Valerie Ross, MS University of Washington Medical Center
Janelle Taylor, PhD Assistant Professor, Medical Anthropology, University of Washington
Susan Brown Trinidad, MA Researcher, Medical History and Ethics, University of Washington, School of Medicine

Please join us in wishing the WBP a Happy Birthday! -- Anything will do, just leave a comment.

4 comments:

Arthur Caplan said...

This blog is an invaluable contribution to the field of bioethics!

Happy B day and many more.

Karama said...

Happy birthday!! Thanks so much for your much-needed contribution to the bioethics community and the world at large. I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring!

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Enjoy this birthday - celebrate - and be loud about it!

This project brings together an impressive range of issues and well articulated, thoughtful entries. Thank you... and for your confirmed commitment to the less 'sexed-up' areas of bioethics, too.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday from one of your secret admirers! Kudos to all the hardworking bloggers on this site... you guys are great!