Closing Keynote

Closing_smRima Rudd, Sc.D., Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health & Michael Villaire, MSLM, Institute for Healthcare Advancement

Dr. Rima Rudd and Michael Villaire closed the conference with their final thoughts and major takeaways. Michael began his summary of the conference proceedings with noting that this was the 15th anniversary of IHA’s Health Literacy conference. This conference has always been a place to get information but also to connect and be together with our “tribe” and health literacy community.

Rima then acknowledged that there is a lot of passion in the room and it had been evident in every conversation she’d been a part of or overheard. But she also noted a loneliness of each professional in their own org/sector and how grateful we all are for the ability to catch up, reconnect, learn best practices from colleagues.

Rima questioned “Where to next?” and surmised that we don’t know where health literacy is going to go. She shared some thoughts from Ceci Doak:

  1. I want to see health literacy become more a part of and integral to the reading community.
  2. Keep up with what’s going on in the field of literacy.
  3. We need to develop partnerships

Imagining next steps can bring us to something exciting and new, somewhere that’s currently unimaginable.

In looking to the future, Michael quoted Peter Druker: “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. He noted that this is not the end result of our future visioning process, but it is a very important first step.

Feedback from attendees recognized a need for dialogue, connection, and ability to have uncomfortable discussions and to push each other’s boundaries.  The Health Literacy Discussion Listserv can serve as a safe place to have these conversations.

Another attendee suggested that we are all futurists because this field has grow so much in recent years and did not exist 40 years ago and now we need for action plans for getting to our shared goals. Everyone at this conference and in this field works tirelessly and we are all actors trying to move this field forward.

This conference is all about getting together and working together. We are also bringing new partners and advocates onboard and educating future professionals who will be part of this shared future. Keynote panelist, Susan Reid, summed up the proceedings with a saying from the late Māori elder Sir James Henare: “Kua tawhiti ke to haerenga mai, kia kore e haere tonu. He tino nui rawa ou mahi, kia kore e mahi nui tonu. We have come too far, not to go further. We have done too much, not to do more.”