Global Public Health Activist Ophelia Dahl Will Be
2006 Commencement Speaker at Wellesley College

For immediate release:
March 13, 2006
Mary Ann Hill

WELLESLEY, Mass. – Global public health activist Ophelia Dahl will address the members of the 544 members of the Class of 2006 and their families and friends at Wellesley College’s 128th Commencement Exercises on Thursday, June 1, at 10:30 a.m. on Severance Green on the Wellesley, Mass., campus.

Dahl is a founding trustee and the executive director of Partners In Health (PIH), an international organization that brings the benefits of modern medical science to some of the most impoverished areas of the world. Partners In Health and its co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer were the subject of the best-seller, Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder.

A member of the Class of 1994, she arrived at Wellesley in 1989 after serving as a public health worker in Haiti for nearly seven years. It was in Haiti that she met Farmer, and they worked together to bring health care to the destitute sick, beginning with a few villages in Haiti’s Central Plateau. Expanding on the effectiveness of the community-based model in Haiti, Dahl has helped to establish major PIH projects in poor communities around the world, including Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Russia, Boston, and, most recently, Rwanda.

When PIH was awarded the 2005 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world’s largest humanitarian award, Dahl explained the motivation behind the organization’s efforts. “We realized that, if we were to truly improve the lives of the poor, we must tackle the root causes of their illnesses. As a result, we address health care in the broadest possible sense—not just providing medicine, but also education, water, and housing.”

Dahl also serves on the board of her family’s foundation to honor the work of her father, the late writer Roald Dahl, and is engaged in philanthropic works in the United States and England.

This year’s student Commencement speaker, senior Sophie Kim of Alameda, Calif., continues a tradition that began with the first student Commencement speaker, N.Y. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a member of the Wellesley Class of 1969. A political science major, Kim has served as chair of the Committee for Political and Legislative Action, which presents issues of local, national and international importance to the student body in a nonpartisan manner, and has served on the 2005-2006 College Government Cabinet. She has been active in the Political Science Majors Council and as a tutor for the department, and has served as a research assistant for her major adviser. She is also active in the Phi Sigma Lecture Society. Last summer, she participated in the Wellesley in Washington internship program in Washington, D.C., where she interned for a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She will prepare for law school after graduation.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries. All graduates earn a bachelor of arts degree.

For more on Commencement 2006, visit Wellesley College Web site at