Letter From Our Founder

I have found myself sometimes dumbstruck by the tremendous impact of work in our lives. I moved from New York to Appalachia in my 20’s to work as a Nurse Practitioner because I thought healthcare could make a difference in places with some of the highest rates of disease and disability in the country. What I learned in that job forever changed how I saw the world and considered my work.

In Appalachia, I experienced the paradox of work–the potentially life sustaining and life draining aspects work. Coal miners told me that they chose this career, despite losing family and friends to the scourge of lung disease or death, because of the strong camaraderie and support among peers with common purpose and empathy that united their communities. And yes, their employment options were limited. After this experience, I no longer considered health as mainly physical ability or strength but social, emotional, purposeful and meaningful fulfillment also.  I duly noted that many of these resources for complete well-being, including the means for financial stability, came from the workplace. I believed I found my purpose—to improve lives by improving the world of work.

I eventually left Appalachia for Boston and doctoral studies in policy covering such diverse fields as the sociology of work, political economy, health policy and statistical methods. This knowledge built up my science and health care background to create a holistic approach to healthy and sustainable development—good jobs, healthy and caring organizations, and multi-stakeholder engagement (consumers, employers, employees, governments, suppliers, investors, non-profits and communities). With Greg Norris, I co-founded SHINE at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2013 to research sustainable practices and the conditions that create cooperation and social impact among stakeholders. Greg moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017 to create SHINE at MIT to focus on advancing Netpositive assessment while my research at Harvard Chan continues to focus on what makes good jobs and successful companies that care for people and planet.  This work has taken me from the boardroom to factory supply chains around the world. The SHINE team and I continue to learn every day from stakeholders and companies.

We share our learnings through research publications, the SHINE network, and the SHINE Summit in the hope of making people’s lives better.  This is why we work.

Eileen McNeely
Founder & Executive Director