Ophelia Dahl, the internationally recognized health care and social justice advocate and one of the founders of Partners In Health, will receive the prestigious Radcliffe Medal on May 26, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute announced today.
Each year, during Harvard University’s Commencement Week, the Radcliffe Institute awards its highest honor to an individual who embodies its commitment to excellence, inclusion, and social impact. The Radcliffe Medal was first awarded to Lena Horne in 1987. Recipients include Madeleine Albright, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Melinda French Gates, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dolores Huerta, Sherrilyn Ifill, Toni Morrison, Sandra Day O’Connor, Gloria Steinem, and Janet Yellen.
“It is Ophelia’s unfailing optimism, clarity of vision, and unsurpassed ability to get the work done that make her such a worthy Radcliffe medalist,” says Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Radcliffe Institute dean, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and professor of history in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “She pushes us to see the world and our own moral obligations in powerful new ways, and she has challenged global institutions to rethink their approach to pursuing the long-promised and still-elusive universal right to health.”
Dahl co-founded PIH in 1987 with Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim, Todd McCormack, and Thomas J. White in Haiti’s rural Central Plateau, the organization now serves millions of patients in 11 countries on four continents around the world. Dahl led the organization as executive director for 16 years and now chairs its board of directors. She writes, teaches, and speaks about the health and rights of the poor, moral imagination, and accompaniment, which Dahl describes as “walking shoulder to shoulder through whatever challenges arise.” Throughout her career, Dahl has been a tireless advocate for the human rights of the world’s most vulnerable people. Her moral clarity and determination have reshaped the global conversation about health care.