March 29, 2023 11:50 pm

The nation lost a top voice for public well being advocacy when Harry Snyder, JD,  a beloved teacher at the UC Berkeley College of Public Well being, died on February ten, 2023. He was 85.

At the time of his passing  Snyder was advocacy leader-in-residence at the Center for Public Well being Practice and Leadership and a lecturer of well being policy and management at the college, exactly where he taught courses on well being policy advocacy.

When colleagues at Berkeley Public Well being discovered of his death, one particular word kept popping up: mensch.

“Harry was a mensch. A fierce mensch who knew we could do much better,” stated Lori Dorfman, adjunct professor at Berkeley Public Well being and director of the public well being advocacy organization Berkeley Media Research Group. She stated that in Snyder’s thoughts, “our thorniest public well being challenges had been puzzles to be solved,  and he knew we could figure them out if we just place our minds to it.

“Knowing was never ever sufficient for Harry we had to do, as well,” Dorfman stated. “He championed advocacy in public well being,  mainly because nothing at all frustrated him additional than understanding getting hidden away in academic journals alternatively of out in the globe brought to bear on policy. He wanted Berkeley Public Well being to elevate advocacy to make positive we had been undertaking all we could, not just to study well being but to make well being. He believed in us.”

Robert Ross, president of the California Endowment, wrote, “Harry committed his qualified life to legislative and customer advocacy for California’s poor, uninsured, marginalized, and oppressed communities.”

Berkeley Public Well being Dean Michael C. Lu stated, “He was a beloved teacher, and was passionate about teaching advocacy as a driver for social transform.”

Snyder was born in Los Angeles in 1937. He attended USC and then UCLA, exactly where he earned  a  law degree. Just after a stint in the Peace Corps, in the course of which he lived in India, Samoa, and Nepal, Snyder and his family members moved to Mill Valley, California. In the mid-1970s, he became West Coast director of Customers Union, publisher of Customer Reports. Through his lengthy tenure there—he retired in 2002—Snyder became recognized as one particular of California’s most tenacious and outspoken customer lobbyists.

“Harry developed the toughest law for corporate executive accountability in the nation—requiring California executives to be personally liable for understanding about defects or dangers in the workplace that they fail to disclose,” Jamie Court wrote in an obituary that appeared on the Customer Watchdog site. “As the West Coast Director of Customers Union, Harry shepherded by means of other landmark adjustments to shield our access to higher top quality well being care.”

For the subsequent two decades, Snyder taught advocacy at Berkeley Public Well being and was also the principal at Cy Pres Funds, exactly where he distributed additional than $70 million in fines from class action lawsuits to the acceptable recipients.

“His vision was to assistance mold brilliant young public well being students into fierce and righteous advocates who could make the globe a kinder and additional equitable location, in certain for these who had been the victims of structural racism and poverty,” stated longtime buddy and collaborator Tony Iton. “ He worked with a number of Berkeley Public Well being deans to assistance bring the Academy into the streets and the legislature to translate public well being science into equitable and enduring public policy. He was generally there for his students and helped help and guide their careers lengthy right after they graduated. He was each an idealist and a pragmatist who never ever gave up on a excellent fight and never ever left his opponents feeling disrespected.”

In 2020, Snyder and Iton co-authored Advocacy for Public Well being Policy Modify: An Urgent Crucial, which Physicians for a National Well being Program  known as “a treasure trove of guidance on how to push for healthier public policies.”

Snyder is survived by his wife, Vivian C. Snyder, 3 young children, and eight grandchildren.

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