CRUX: Jennifer Lahl, you’ve recently been named National Director for the Center for Bioethics and Culture. Tell us a little bit about your educational and career background.
Well my first degree is in nursing. I practiced pediatric nursing, specifically pediatric critical care nursing for almost 15years. I spent approximately 10 years in nursing management and senior hospital administration positions at a major inner city Children’s Hospital. Being involved in pediatric nursing and hospital management I was keenly aware of the ethical dimensions in healthcare delivery today. I have my masters degree in bioethics from Trinity International University in Illinois and was really taken aback with the complex and quickly approaching biotech agenda while in graduate school. During my graduate studies, I founded the CBC as an educational non- profit organization to help people understand the issues in bioethics and to make informed choices based on a Christian worldview.
CRUX: The CBC has certainly grown since its inception in August 2000. How did you come to be appointed its National Director?
CBC was launched August 2000 with a two day conference held in my church. About 50 people attended that conference. Since its beginning, the CBC has operated with a great sense of flexibility and creativeness (Remember, we won a Peter F. Drucker Innovation Award!). Part of that was out of sheer necessity as we had very little funding and resources and part of it was having the vision to quickly and creatively build a ‘network’ of local centers that have both national presence with national activities while still serving a specific local community as a bioethics resource. The biotech agenda is coming at mach speed. The CBC sees the need to bring new projects into the network to ensure that our information on bioethics from a Christian perspective is available around the world. The CBC board named me National Director to oversee and connect all of these various local projects in a shared corporate vision for our purpose of bringing people together for a human future. We now have CBCs in 5 states and two CBCs in the state of California! I have just returned from Scotland where I had been invited to speak at a conference on cloning. After my talk I was approached by two people asking how they can begin a similar work in their communities. Who knows, maybe we will soon be searching for an International Director!
CRUX: What are the biggest challenges facing you at the CBC today and how are they different from the challenges that faced you in the beginning?
Certainly some of the challenges are the same but now on a bigger scale. In the early beginning days we saw the need was so great to provide Christian resources in bioethics. Today that need has only increased because of the rapid developments with human cloning, stem cell research and the whole area of merging people and technology. So our challenge remains to develop helpful resources that can then in turn be used in a variety of settings to educate others. Our electronic newsletter is an example of how we are attempting to creatively reach 100s of 1000s of people with an important resource. Producing resources out of our events is critical. The sales of videos from our Debate of the Century, held over a year and a half ago continue and we are pre-selling copies of the next debate in the series.
Growth in an organization is always challenging. In our infancy the growth seemed to come gradually and slowly. Once your organization becomes more established and people start to know more of you and your work the growth at times is explosive. Managing the growth, not losing site of your vision, keeping your focus on the strategic plans of the organization are daily challenges. And we of course want to keep growing so there is the challenge of doing the work set before you but still having your eye on the future. We are already planning activities for 2005 and thinking about 2006 and this year has just begun. The need for our work is not going away anytime soon. The need for more work in this area is still huge which presents each of us with a wonderful challenge and opportunity.
CRUX: What can your readers and members do to support the work of the CBC?
Well, how long do I have! We have some big goals this year. First, we are trying to develop our website so that our website becomes a number one resource for people looking for information on bioethics. So, a real way that will help us is if people will continue to use our website for information, to purchase resources and to refer others to our site and ultimately our work. We have another real goal to grow our database. We don’t want to spam people but we know there are a lot of people out there that would love to receive our emails. Pass this onto your friends and invite them to subscribe. And finally, we have the need to sustain our work financially. Many of you will know that we just completed a very successful fundraising campaign because of the generosity of one individual. It was a very exciting 8 weeks, but now we need to keep the momentum. I am thrilled with the doors that have been opened for us and the phenomenal group of people that have been raised up to share the work of the CBC. We are here to serve you, so please let us hear from you!
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