The 27th Henry Hardy Lecture in Bioethics and Public Policy: Loosing the Bonds: Moral Imagination and Political Success in Health Care
September 26, 2017
Speaker: Robert K. Massie
Robert Kinloch “Bob” Massie IV is an Episcopal minister, scholar, author, and activist known for his successful global leadership on corporate accountability, social justice, climate change, and health as a human right.
His extensive personal experience as a patient has provided him with firsthand understanding of both the life-saving power of modern medical science, and the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. health care system, including its potentially devastating costs. Born with classic Factor VIII hemophilia, his early life was shaped by severe complications of that illness, including regular bleeding joints, spending much of his youth in a wheelchair. When he remained healthy despite a 1984 diagnosis of blood product-related HIV, in 1994 he was found to be one of the first documented “elite controllers”, whose immune system had successfully suppressed the virus. But by 2002 he was forced to retire from active work because of advanced cirrhosis from transfusion-acquired Hepatitis C. In 2009 a liver transplant returned him to health and cured his hemophilia, since his new liver produced his previously-missing clotting proteins.
After graduating from Princeton, Massie received his Master of Divinity degree from Yale in 1982 and was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1983. He received a Doctorate in Business Administration from Harvard in 1989, writing his dissertation on how large institutions balance organizational objectives with perceived moral obligations. During this period he served on the Ethics Advisory Committee at Boston Children’s Hospital. After studying the history of race relations and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa as a Fulbright scholar, his 1997 book Loosing The Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years won the Lionel Gelber Prize for the Best Book on International Relations.
From 1996 to 2003 Massie served as the executive director of Ceres, the largest coalition of environmental groups and institutional investors in the United States. In 1998, in partnership with the United Nations and major U.S. foundations, he co-founded and chaired the Global Reporting Initiative, which produces the world’s most trusted and widely used standards for sustainability reporting, the GRI Standards, transforming corporations’ approach to sustainability, integrating environmental and social concerns directly into their operating and financial models. More than two thousand major corporations and institutional investor groups now voluntarily participate in the GRI corporate disclosure standards. In 2002, Massie was named one of the 100 most influential people in the field of finance by CFO Magazine. His autobiography, A Song in the Night: A Memoir of Resilience, was published in 2012.