Farewell and Thank You

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Melissa Barber, VT Gov Peter Shumlin, and George Eighmey at VT's bill signing ceremony
Melissa, VT Gov Shumlin, & George Eighmey at VT’s bill signing ceremony

With mixed emotions, I’m leaving the Death with Dignity National Center at the end of this week. When I started at the National Center in 2010, I was charged with building an online community around death and dying—no easy feat considering most people avoid the subject as much as possible. But together, with the help of many of you long-time and new supporters, we’ve built a thriving and invigorating community around a difficult and often taboo subject. Thank you.

Communities, by their very nature, aren’t one-person endeavors. They form over time as people with many different backgrounds and beliefs find commonality. Over the last four and a half years, I’m pleased to have engaged in online conversations with conservatives, liberals, atheists, believers, supporters and even opponents (or people who were once opponents). We haven’t always agreed, and that’s only made our community stronger. By sharing our different opinions, feelings, and beliefs we’ve made our own individual worlds larger and richer.

It’s an exciting time for Death with Dignity. During my time here, I was privileged to be part of a near win in Massachusetts and work directly with Vermonters to see the over ten years of work come to fruition with the first Death with Dignity law on the east coast. The movement is on the cusp of a rapid acceleration of momentum, and several states are poised to move forward with laws of their own in the near future.

I’m proud of the small part I’ve played in building the foundation of support toward policy reform throughout the US, and I’ll miss all the daily interactions with the community we’ve built together. I look forward to shifting my involvement to participate as an advocate and donor, like many of you, and doing what I can to move the national conversation about end-of-life options forward. Thank you, everyone, for all your support and encouragement to make the work I’ve done fulfilling and meaningful.

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