As our Harvard Macy team here in Boston prepares for the Thanksgiving holiday I would like to highlight the gift of community that we all share across many nations, institutions, professions and cultures.  What started in 1994 as a hope and a dream - to create a network of educators and academic leaders committed to innovation and positive learning environments - has now grown to over 5600 HMI alumni at over 500 institutions worldwide.  Our community is contributing to the advancement of healthcare education and delivery in ways that we could never have imagined over 20 years ago.  Each  individual scholar’s passion to make the world a better place, drives the engine of innovation that has become the hallmark of Harvard Macy.   You are all recognized worldwide for your achievements.

In gratitude to each of you this holiday season, I am donating the financial award given to me as the 2016 recipient of the AAMC Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service in Medical Education to start a new scholarship fund for future HMI scholars. My hope is that this fund will allow new scholars from limited-resource settings to join us in the creation of innovative change in health care education.

Each day I learn about a new project led by one of our alums, a new study authored by a team of fellow scholars, a teaching exercise that is being conducted in multiple schools across the globe by HMI members, a book authored by an alum to advance education in his or her country, and the list goes on.   A common thread in all of these stories is  that an HMI scholar was inspired to initiate this work as a result of ideas conveyed and developed through   a course or  conversation at HMI.  Alums often describe a   “light bulb reaction” that paved the way for a new way of looking at the change that was needed in their hospital, clinic or school.   It might have been a story Clay Christensen told about a disruptive innovation, or a session Bob Kegan led on personal assumptions and adult development, or a case study described by a fellow scholar on a strategy for change at their institution, or a thought shared in a twitter exchange that sparked the new work at home. Some major institutional changes have been created through the Design exercises in the June course or the Systems planning groups  in the March course.   All the stories and the projects that have  resulted  are significant and  meaningful because they made a positive contribution to someone’s learning or someone's care.  For all of you, and for all that you are doing to advance  improvements in our world, we are thankful at this Thanksgiving season!

Our hope now is that each of you will continue to employ the rich community of relationships we have created together, to make an ever widening stream of improvements beneficial to current and future learners, teachers and patients in our world healthcare systems.  We invite you to share your successes and challenges with us (, and on Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook.  You may even be inspired to blog about them – contact us at  to learn how! 

With my sincere best wishes and gratitude-- Liz

Please feel free to comment and add any special thanks to members of our community who have mentored, coached or inspired you.



Elizabeth Armstrong, Ph.D.

Dr. Armstrong has held positions at Harvard Medical School since 1984, including Director of Curriculum 1988 - 1992 and Director of Medical Education 1992 – 2001. She played a leadership role in designing, implementing and expanding Harvard’s New Pathway curriculum.  In 1994 with funding from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, she created the Harvard Macy Institute.