January 6, 2022

Fatima Cody Stanford MC/MPA 2015 works on tactics and policies to reduce obesity. She explains what HKS and public service mean to her.

A woman with shoulder-length dark hair, wearing a red shirt smiles at the camera in front of a textured gray background.How has HKS influenced your life and career?

Harvard Kennedy School has had a major influence and impact on my life. Of all my five degrees, it was the Kennedy School that has helped frame the work that I do in the larger complex of this great ecosystem that is the world that we inhabit. I completed my mid-career degree in my final year of my clinical fellowship in obesity medicine at Harvard Medical School. I was challenged in ways that I had not been challenged before, particularly as I worked to elevate the topic of obesity to a level of understanding and significance that would resonate with my Kennedy School colleagues who came from all areas and disciplines. It was in this quest to have my voice heard that I really began to rely on storytelling to communicate effectively regarding large policy issues such as the disease of obesity. This has propelled me to be one of the strongest thought leaders and advocates for patients with obesity throughout our world.

What does public service mean to you?

I see public service as being a servant to the community to which I belong. In the work that I do in obesity medicine and health equity, this means that I will provide all the knowledge that I've accumulated and deliver it to the community in such a way that people will benefit directly from my input. My commitment to public service began when I was a small child. I was influenced by my maternal grandmother to always ensure that others had what I was able to provide. My commitment to public service underlies all that I do each day, and I do believe that it is my role to leave the world in a better place through my contributions.

What does the HKS community mean to you?

The HKS community is my family—I met one of my closest confidantes at the Kennedy School. I believe that it was our close interaction in Heifetz’s leadership courses that solidified our bond. Throughout my career so far, I have been able to call upon my HKS family for leadership, guidance, and support. I can only imagine that this will continue to proliferate over time.