Shelley Hearne ’83 to Receive 2013 Common Good Award

Shelley Hearne, a member of the Class of 1983 and an extraordinary public servant, has a long-standing record of important work at those critical junctures where science and public policy intersect.

Shelley Hearne '83

Shelley Hearne '83

For her tireless efforts, Hearne has been selected by the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees to receive the 2013 Common Good Award.

Hearne is a visiting professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Hearne served as managing director of the Pew Health Group at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Previously, she founded and oversaw Trust for America’s Health, a national organization dedicated to the prevention of epidemics, and was executive director of the Pew Environmental Health Commission.

Hearne was also acting director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Office of Pollution Prevention and a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She has served as the chair of the American Public Health Association’s Executive Board and Vice President of the Council on Education for Public Health, the accreditation body for public health schools.

“Shelley has, throughout her career, been a tireless and effective advocate for protecting the public from threats posed by pollution, pandemics, bioterrorism, the unregulated use of antibiotics in animals raised for food, and the health consequences of economic policies,” says Bowdoin College President Barry Mills. “Her willingness to identify and seek solutions for some of the most difficult issues of the day inspires us all.”

A chemistry and environmental studies major at Bowdoin, Hearne played on the lacrosse and basketball teams, and earned her doctorate in environmental health sciences from Columbia University’s School of Public Health.

“I came to Bowdoin with a passion for the environment and left with much more than skills and knowledge,” says Hearne. “From the basketball court to the debate floor, and with the care and coaching from extraordinary faculty and staff, I left believing that underdogs can win. I will always be grateful for that full court education.”

Hearne has written an array of national accountability reports, including “Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Disease, Disasters and Bioterrorism,” which grades state health disaster preparedness. Hearne has also testified regularly before Congress on bioterrorism, pandemic preparedness and health tracking. She is the national recipient of the Delta Omega Curriculum Award honoring innovative public health teaching, received the Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Award for Public Health Advocacy and the American Public Health Association’s Distinguished Service Award in Environmental Health.

In demand for her expertise, Hearne has appeared on many television news networks, including ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News and MSNBC, to address topics ranging from credit card reform and food safety, to pandemic flu preparedness and human health issues.

Established in 1994 on the occasion of the Bowdoin College Bicentennial, the Common Good Award honors those alumni who have demonstrated an extraordinary, profound and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest of society, with conspicuous disregard for personal gain in wealth or status.

Common Good Award recipients personify the idea of the common good as set forth by Bowdoin’s first president, Joseph McKeen. In his inaugural address on September 2, 1802, McKeen reminded his audience, “It ought always to be remembered that literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education. It is not that they may be able to pass through life in an easy and reputable manner, but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society.”

The Common Good Award will be presented Saturday, June 1, 2013, during Reunion Convocation.