Like many Washington professionals, Polly Harrison leads a busy life with pressing agendas. But she makes it a point to watch and listen to WETA. A longtime member, Polly says she became addicted to public radio and public television early on.
"Public broadcasting has been part of me ever since it became available-it is woven into the fabric of my life."
Polly is a medical anthropologist, specializing in women's health. In 1988, she joined the Institute of Medicine where she directed the Division of International Health. There, concentrating on contraception and family planning issues, she became interested in microbicides.
Microbicide technology seemed to her to represent a promising preventive intervention to help stem the tide of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa and a strategy for women who are not always protected by their partners.
Ten years later, Polly founded the Alliance for Microbicide Development to advocate for and educate about microbicides. Using a collaborative model, she worked for another decade to win attention for basic research and finally succeeded.
Polly continues to take on issues as a consultant to several organizations, including coalitions on AIDS vaccine and multipurpose technologies-all the while keeping close track of WETA broadcast schedules so she does not miss any episodes of her favorite series.
Because public broadcasting has been such a large part of her life, Polly named WETA a beneficiary in her Will.
"I felt an obligation to say thank you. And as someone who founded a nonprofit, I am sensitive to the needs that nonprofits serve and to the challenges of fundraising."