A Fond Farewell to Mark Bishop

February 04, 2016

This week, Healthy Schools Campaign will wish a fond farewell to Mark Bishop, our Vice President of Policy and one of HSC’s very first employees. Mark is moving on after an amazing 13 years of service to HSC and to the field of school health and wellness. Today, HSC President + CEO Rochelle Davis shares her reflections on Mark’s contributions at HSC and beyond.

by Rochelle Davis, HSC President + CEO

Everyone who has worked with Mark knows he is personable, funny, smart, humble and a natural when it comes to engaging people and building relationships. Mark’s commitment to making the world a better place—and his devotion to his wife Jill and son Henry—are apparent immediately.

In 13 years, Mark moved the needle for Healthy Schools Campaign and the issues we address. His impact has been nothing short of transformational. Mark leaves us with a legacy of firsts that will forever shape Healthy Schools Campaign’s identity and impact in Chicago and across the nation.

HSC approaches our work with a signature three-part strategy: we empower, we advocate and we build. I’d like to use this model to help describe a few of Mark’s achievements at HSC:

Empower. Fundamentally, HSC’s theory of change is about empowering people to make their schools and communities healthier places. Very early in his time at HSC, Mark led several key trainings—including the School Nurse Leadership Program—that exemplify the potential of this model. Participants have gone on to create lasting changes in their own schools and have led policy change at the district and state levels. Mark most recently continued this work with the Green Cleaning Leadership Council. Individuals who took part in these programs have described them as “life-changing” steps to recognizing their own potential as leaders.

Advocate. When Mark started at HSC, we were completely unknown and school environmental health issues were simply not on the radar for policymakers. We went to Springfield and could not even convince a state legislator to talk with us. So that first summer, Mark got in a car and drove across Illinois to meet with all of the state legislators on the Education Committee. That trip laid the groundwork for our success passing state legislation and serving in advisory roles at the state level. At the national level, Mark worked in coalition and as part of a strong HSC team to develop HSC’s first Congressional event with Through Your Lens and first national day of action with Take Your Legislator to Lunch. His policy successes have ranged from supporting green clean school laws in states across the country to working with national leaders and his HSC colleagues to integrate health into the most recent ESEA reauthorization.

Build. HSC would not be what it is today without Mark’s ability to see our potential and build the systems we needed to achieve that vision. When we were just three full-time staff in a two-room office and our data management system consisted of my box of index cards, Mark built the foundation for a much bigger organization with broad reach and impact. He identified the need for a strong data management system and the value of building a strong communications department. Mark saw the potential, long before we had the words to describe it, for HSC’s reach to be Chicago-based and nationally-minded.

When I think about Mark’s time at HSC, I think about the nearly immeasurable impact he’s had on making this organization—and the policy environment for school health and wellness—what it is today. But like everyone else, I also think about the personal characteristics you can’t overlook: his overwhelmingly positive energy, his ability to find and bring out the humor in practically any situation and the ways he has personally embodied so many of HSC’s values, blogging about his healthy cooking adventures with Henry and even running the Chicago marathon for HSC.

I salute Mark’s vast legacy of accomplishments in our field and would like to say a heartfelt thank-you for his friendship and for his tremendous contributions to the organization he helped build.

Thank you, Mark!