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A champion for public health

Bloomberg School of Public Health alumna guides centennial celebration
Posted May 13, 2014
School of Public Health alumna Margaret Conn Himelfarb, SPH ’04, is a dedicated volunteer and experienced medical research advocate.  IMAGE: School of Public Health alumna Margaret Conn Himelfarb, SPH ’04, is a dedicated volunteer and experienced medical research advocate. IMAGE:

As a widely-recognized medical research advocate, Margaret Conn Himelfarb has an impressive and far-reaching resume. She has campaigned for stem cell research, testified before the FDA, and successfully led the charge for the creation of a diabetes awareness U.S. postage stamp, among many other accomplishments.

At the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Himelfarb has given a decade of service and proven to be the quintessential volunteer—serving on multiple boards and committees and demonstrating her passion and enthusiasm in countless ways, whether interviewing faculty members, helping develop strategic, communications, and marketing plans, or traveling with the school's Health Advisory Board to research sites around the world.

The next challenge for this dedicated volunteer? Putting her extensive fundraising and event planning background to work as chair of the school’s Centennial Committee. The Bloomberg School’s 100th anniversary will be commemorated in 2016, but there is much do in preparation as Himelfarb partners with faculty, staff, students, and alumni to spread the word and guide the landmark celebration. “The Centennial is a rare opportunity to showcase the school as well as position it for the future,” Himelfarb says. “Of course, we intend to celebrate our century of remarkable accomplishment, but our goals are also to educate society about the importance of public health, and help define the future of this rapidly evolving field. It's about looking forward as well as back."

Himelfarb’s volunteerism is grounded in her deep-rooted belief in the impact of the Bloomberg School’s endeavors. “I am drawn to the critical mission of the school. It feels good to be even a small part of something so important,” she says. “Public health is not only about treatment, but also about prevention. It's not just about individuals, but whole populations. The school’s motto ‘protecting health, saving lives - millions at a time’ aptly portrays its significance.”

Margaret earned her MPH from the Bloomberg School in 2004, but her fascination for related fields of study began much earlier. Interested in science and research since childhood, her first jobs were at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center; she later worked as a research associate in the department of psychiatry at Hopkins Hospital. Though she went on to pursue different professional endeavors, her interest in research redeveloped into a personal mission when her son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a young child. Not one to step back and wait for change (a quality she shares with her alma mater), Himelfarb set out to raise public awareness about diabetes and stem cell research—not just in her local community, but on a state and national level. Her advocacy work soon reconnected her with Johns Hopkins, where she found others as dedicated as she is.

“Like our faculty, staff, and students, our volunteers are incredibly passionate about the mission of our school.  Margaret, however, stands out,” Michael Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School notes. “As both an alumna and a volunteer who has served on our Institutional Review Board for years, she has a deep understanding of our research and educational missions. Her dedication to the mission of public health is inspiring. Due in large part to Margaret’s vision and energy, our centennial celebration promises to be a truly transformative experience as the school looks not only back in time but also lays the foundation for the next 100 years.”

The celebration will be marked by a year of activities, which will kick off in July 2015 and continue through July 2016. A wide variety of events and projects are planned thus far, including lectures, seminars, special programs, a historic timeline, and an interactive digital alumni global map.  With Himelfarb at the helm, helping to generate enthusiasm and garner the involvement of faculty, students, alumni, and staff, there is no doubt that this milestone occasion will be one worthy of a century of remarkable advances.