By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link
I often set myself with impossible tasks on this blog, but today's task is herculean: trying to come up with the words to describe a colleague of HC Link's and mine, Bob Gardner. Bob, long-time Director of Policy at the Wellesley Institute and life-long health equity advocate, passed away last week.
I was lucky enough to sit at several roundtables and working groups with Bob, and I learned something from him at every single meeting. Things like "whatever you do, don't stop", "think big, but start concrete" and to ask yourself the simple question of "what else do you think might happen?" Bob had a habit of asking the wicked questions, and of reminding us that we need to invite people from "outside of the box" to ask those questions as well.
Bob was a bit outside of the box himself, with Harry Potter glasses and an easy- yet-academic manner. One of my colleagues told me a story of Bob attending a meeting of hospital executives: he arrived on his bike wearing sandals with bike helmet in hand and talked about health equity to execs in three-piece suits, who followed his advice. Another colleague talked of Bob as a connector: someone who always knew who you should talk to about your project and someone who always talked about your project to others. It seemed like Bob knew everybody!
We at HC Link will remember Bob as someone who contributed to our workshops and conferences over the years, most recently at our 2013 provincial conference, where Bob moderated a talk-show-style panel following our keynote speaker. We recorded a video interview with him following the panel, which you can watch here.
Bob, with Barb Willet and Noor Din at our 2013 provincial conference
I will remember Bob as a fellow lover of all things policy, a tireless advocate of the social determinants of health and social justice. Bob made a real impact on our field, and things won't quite be the same without him.