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Emily Sherwood MC/MPA 2014 is the daughter of a marine and the granddaughter of an army doctor and a naval officer. Dinner conversations with her parents and two sisters – which took place every night – often focused on world events, politics, the military, patriotism, ethics and values. It was at that dinner table where Emily formed her beliefs on public service.
“I remember having the conversation in our kitchen when the Cambodian invasion happened, and my dad talking about the constitutional issues,” says Sherwood. “They [her father and grandfathers] were very patriotic but they certainly had their critiques of the military and of government. But there was definitely an engagement with the world and a sense that you could do something. I think that’s what set the foundation.”
Since her youth, Sherwood has spent time thinking about the greater good.
“I would think about, ‘how do we all live together? And how do we organize ourselves in a way that’s fair?'”
At the beginning of her career those questions attracted her to the feminist movement and later to Greenpeace. And it was during her activist years when Sherwood was almost arrested during a Greenpeace protest.
“There was a plant dumping toxic sludge in sand pits next to a river," she recalled. "We had all this protective gear on and had barrels full of the sludge and we dumped them at the opening to the plant. The police just waited us out and we eventually left. They didn’t arrest us.”
Sherwood's career path soon turned to the Massachusetts Statehouse, where she served as the Research Director for the Committee on Human Services for nine years. In 2005, she was hired to lead the staff of the Committee on Healthcare Financing in preparation for then-Governor Romney’s healthcare legislation, which, following its passage and implementation, has overhauled the healthcare system in the Commonwealth.
Following almost 30 years working in healthcare and human services, Sherwood applied for the sought-after Bradford Fellowship for Massachusetts State Government Mangers three times before being selected in 2013. She began her studies at HKS last fall.
“It’s been the best year of my life. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences. What I love about the school is the combination of academics and practitioners.”
Sherwood currently leads the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), which is implementing the judgment in the “Rosie D.” class action lawsuit brought on behalf of children with mental health conditions. Some of the mandates include universal behavioral health screenings for children during primary care visits and new home-based and community based services.
All of her final projects at HKS have been directly related to her work.
“I feel humbled, in a good way, and opened up and equipped. It’s very good,” she says.