On Tuesday, January 21, 2014, the Brimmer and May School held its ninth annual Kenyon Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium, Seeking a Better World: Individuals Working for Change. The Keynote speaker, Dr. Jonathan Gruber, P ’18, spoke about “Health Care Reform in the U.S.: Past, Present, and Future” and was eloquently introduced by his daughter, Ava ’18.
Dr. Jonathan Gruber is a Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1992. He is also the Director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a Research Associate. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Social Insurance. He has published more than 140 research articles, has edited six research volumes, and is the author of Public Finance and Public Policy, a leading undergraduate text, and Health Care Reform, a graphic novel. In 2006, he received the American Society of Health Economists Inaugural Medal for the best health economist in the nation aged 40 and under.
During the 1997-1998 academic year, Dr. Gruber was on leave as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department. From 2003-2006 he was a key architect of Massachusetts’ ambitious health reform effort, and in 2006 became an inaugural member of the Health Connector Board, the main implementing body for that effort. During 2009-2010 he served as a technical consultant to the Obama Administration and worked with both the Administration and Congress to help craft the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In 2011, he was named “One of the Top 25 Most Innovative and Practical inkers of Our Time” by Slate Magazine. In both 2006 and 2012, he was rated as one of the top 100 most powerful people in health care in the United States by Modern Healthcare Magazine.
Mr. Gruber addressed why our health care system is broken and why we need to fix it; what Massachusetts has accomplished regarding health care; what ObamaCare borrowed from Massachusetts; and where we are heading from here.
He shared lessons he has learned with students:
- Do not be afraid to work on hard problems.
- Even if you fail in a repeated arena, you might ultimately succeed.
- There is great value in being able to explain complicated topics in non-technical terms.
Mr. Gruber concluded his presentation by stating to students, “Recognize that healthcare policy is the number one policy issue that you face in your life. You owe it to yourself to stay informed. . . For many of the tough policy problems, there are no easy answers. They demand compromise.” He advised students, “There are enormous possibilities for you to get involved. . .The minimum way for you to get involved is to be knowledgeable.”
Highlights of the Symposium included the many workshops offered to Middle and Upper School students throughout the day.
Sameera Anwar, “Beyond Food, Flags, and Festivals: Why Global Perspectives Matter in the World Today”
Ms. Anwar currently works at Primary Source, a professional development organization that works with K-12 teachers, including those at Brimmer and May, to help globalize their curricula.
Sheera Bornstein ’03, “Blurred Lines of Good and Evil: Social Impact of Businesses”
Sheera Bornstein is an associate consultant at FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm specializing in strategy, evaluation, and research. At FSG, Ms. Bornstein works with businesses, non-profits, foundations, and governments to design strategies for social change.
Chip Breier, “Science and Engineering in Deep Sea: Understanding the Limits of Life”
Chip Breier is an Associate Scientist in the Deep Submergence Laboratory of the Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Ned Eames, “Making a Pathway to Success through Literacy, Life-skills, and Tennis”
Mr. Eames is founder and president of Tenacity and is responsible for its overall management and strategic direction. Tenacity’s mission is to improve the scholastic, character, and physical development of urban youth by combining tennis instruction and academic support with a focus on life skills.
Barbara Henry, “Working for Change with Ruby Bridges”
Barbara Henry, a former Brimmer and May secretary accepted an invitation in 1960 to teach in New Orleans at the first public school to be integrated under a federal court order. She was the only teacher willing to teach six-year-old Ruby Bridges, and for that school year, she taught Ruby Bridges alone at the school. Ruby became the first African American child to desegregate an elementary school.
Cindy Laba, “Beacon Academy: The Only School of its Kind in the Country”
For the past 30 years, Cindy Laba has devoted her professional life to the education and development of young people. She is the founder and Head of School of Beacon Academy.
Elizabeth Lefevre P ’15 and Ralph Sexton, “Engineering Change for a Better World Through Chemicals that are Cheaper, Safer, and More Effective”
Elizabeth Lefevre has over 29 years of experience in the chemical processing industry. She currently works for Technip Stone and Webster Process Technology. She holds a B.S. in chemical engineering and an M.S. in chemical engineering practice from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ms. Lefevre’s daughter Genevieve is a junior at Brimmer and May.
Ralph Sexton has enjoyed a long career providing chemical engineering services to the international chemical process industry. He works for the Badger Company and holds bachelors and masters degrees in chemical engineering from Northeastern University.
David Mistretta, “Building to Heal”
David Mistretta works at MASS Design Group. The MASS Design Group’s mission is “building a movement where architecture creates a better, more beautiful, more just world.” MASS immerses itself in the challenges its partners and their constituents face in countries including Haiti, Uganda, Rwanda, and Liberia. The group develops solutions that are contextually optimized and seek to improve health, economic, and social outcomes—using architecture to build a better, more equitable world.
Cecelia Pan P ’16, “Why I Teach”
Ms. Pan has spent more than 25 years teaching science to students of all ages in both formal classroom situations and more informal positions. She has a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry from Defiance College and an M.S. in environmental science from Antioch College. Ms. Pan has taught at Brimmer and May since 1996, and her son Alex is a sophomore.
Dr. William Slichenmyer P ’14, “Making Good Drugs for Bad Diseases”
Bill Slichenmyer received a B.A in chemistry and an M.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University. Following graduation, he spent nine years as a trainee in pathology, internal medicine, and medical oncology. During this time, he also received a Sc.M. degree in clinical investigation from the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health. He moved from academia to the pharmaceutical industry in 1994. Since that time his principal area of interest has been the design and conduct of clinical trials to test new drugs to treat patients with a variety of different types of cancers. Currently, Dr. Slichenmyer works as the Chief Medical Officer at AVEO Oncology, a cancer therapeutics company based in Cambridge. His son Kurt is a senior at Brimmer and May.