by Deven McGraw
From the Editor: Many Braille Monitor readers know John Halverson because of his distinguished career in the organization. He has been an affiliate president in two states, a longtime member of the national scholarship committee, a member of the Rocky Mountain Center for the Blind Board of Directors, a former president of the public employees division, and an advisor to the Federation at the highest levels because of his economic background, his organizational good sense, and his institutional knowledge of the NFB. Of course, we are not the only group to appreciate John’s talents, and this letter to staff announcing his retirement amply demonstrates the respect he commands, no matter the circle in which he travels. Here is what his former boss, Deven McGraw, who serves as the deputy director for health information privacy in the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services says about John:
It is with mixed emotions that I share the news of John Halverson's retirement after thirty-eight (!) years in the federal government. We are so very happy for John and excited for his next chapter! At the same time, we will miss John tremendously here at the Office for Civil Rights (OCR); he is a bastion of institutional knowledge and a cornerstone of the HIP team.
John has had a fascinating education and career. John graduated from Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California, in 1967. He attended the University of California Irvine and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in 1971. He was a member of the Student Senate in the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War during his junior and senior years. He was honored as co-winner of the outstanding graduating senior award. He was admitted to the University of Michigan PhD program in economics and completed his PhD in 1978 with an emphasis in public finance. His dissertation involved a comparison of the differences in net life-cycle earnings across medical specialties and other sciences. For several years, while a graduate student at the University of Michigan, he taught the introduction to economics class to undergraduates.
In 1977 John began teaching at the State University of New York Geneseo where he successfully taught a series of undergraduate economics courses. He created and taught health economics when it was a relatively new discipline. Soon after, John began working at the Department of Health Education and Welfare in January 1979. He was hired as a social science analyst because of his knowledge of civil rights, health economics, and statistics. When the department of Health and Human Services was formed in the spring of 1980, he was assigned to the new department.
In 1986 staff in headquarters were given the opportunity to become managers in some of OCR's regional offices. John relocated to Region VII in Kansas City as the division director. He managed the region's case load, conducted technical assistance, and worked with governmental and advocacy officials from throughout what he called the "MINK" Region; Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
In 1991 he was appointed acting Regional Manager and made permanent in the spring of 1992. He continued to manage the case load, conduct outreach activities, and planned a comprehensive civil rights enforcement program. As part of the Kansas City Federal Executive Board, he led the formation of an organization representing federal employees with disabilities in the Kansas City area. For several years he headed the Kansas City area Civil Rights Coordinating Committee. This organization consisted of leaders of federal regional civil rights offices. It experimented with conducting joint compliance reviews, analyzed whether the same complainants filed civil rights complaints across different departments, and held regional civil rights advocacy conferences. One of his most interesting activities involved the opportunity to take the two-week Organizational Leadership for Executives training at the Department of the Army Command and General School at Fort Leavenworth.
After ten years he decided it was time for a change. In 2001 John returned to headquarters to become involved in Health Information Privacy (HIP). He also immediately began to participate in the development of Departmental Section 508 policy. He drafted HIP correspondence for the OCR Director for the Secretary's signature, assisted with arranging privacy speaking activities, and provided expertise to OCR and the department on internet and other access issues. More recently he has worked with regions to provide assistance to investigators in developing investigative strategies and insuring that closure letters concisely meet OCR standards. Specifically, for the past three years he worked with a series of new investigators and managers to ensure the Southeast Region was able to reduce its massive case load. Finally, for the last five years he represented OCR on the department's Privacy Incident Response Team (PIRT) which has the responsibility to evaluate privacy breaches of personally identifiable information and PHI in the Department.
He has been a member of the National Federation of the Blind for many years, serving as president of its Michigan affiliate in the mid-70s and its District of Columbia organization in the 1980s. He is currently president of the Potomac Chapter in Arlington, Virginia. John is married to his wife Sandy. His stepson, Brent, and family live in Independence, Missouri.
This was the letter notifying his department of John’s retirement, but there is more. It turns out that John went to school with Secretary Tom Price:
THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
Washington, D.C. 20201
August 30, 2017
John Halverson, Ph.D.
Senior Management and Program Analyst
Office for Civil Rights
Health Information Privacy Division
Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Dr. Halverson:
On behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I am pleased to congratulate you on your retirement and to thank you for your more than 38 years of dedicated service to HHS and to the public.
Since joining the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in January 1979, you have made significant contributions in all aspects of OCR’s work. Your 24 years of service in OCR’s Headquarters and 14 years in leadership positions in OCR’s Region VII office in Kansas City reflect your versatility and willingness to lend your talents where needed most in OCR’s expanding mission over four decades in both civil rights and health information privacy. Thank you for being a team player, for giving your all to the job, and for your unselfish devotion to ensuring that others at OCR succeed as well. Your professionalism and your work ethic are admirable and served as an inspiration throughout your distinguished tenure at HHS.
On a personal note, when I met you shortly after I arrived at HHS, I was delighted to find that we were in graduate school together while I was a medical student and you were pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Michigan in the 1970’s. Since then, you have truly made your mark and left a lasting legacy at OCR and HHS, and I wish you all the best during your retirement years.
Thomas E. Price, M.D.
For more than seventy-five years the National Federation of the Blind has worked to transform the dreams of hundreds of thousands of blind people into reality, and with your support we will continue to do so for decades to come. We sincerely hope you will plan to be a part of our enduring movement by adding the National Federation of the Blind as a partial beneficiary in your will. A gift to the National Federation of the Blind in your will is more than just a charitable, tax-deductible donation. It is a way to join in the work to help blind people live the lives they want that leaves a lasting imprint on the lives of thousands of blind children and adults.
With your help, the NFB will continue to:
Plan to Leave a Legacy
Creating a will gives you the final say in what happens to your possessions and is the only way to be sure that your remaining assets are distributed according to your passions and beliefs. Many people fear creating a will or believe it’s not necessary until they are much older. Others think that it’s expensive and confusing. However, it is one of the most important things you will do, and with new online legal programs it is easier and cheaper than ever before. If you do decide to create or revise your will, consider the National Federation of the Blind as a partial beneficiary. Visit www.nfb.org/planned-giving or call (410) 659-9314, extension 2422, for more information. Together with love, hope, determination, and your support, we will continue to transform dreams into reality.
Invest in Opportunity
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back. A donation to the National Federation of the Blind allows you to invest in a movement that removes the fear from blindness. Your investment is your vote of confidence in the value and capacity of blind people and reflects the high expectations we have for all blind Americans, combating the low expectations that create obstacles between blind people and our dreams.
In 2016 the NFB:
Just imagine what we’ll do next year, and, with your help, what can be accomplished for years to come. Below are just a few of the many diverse, tax-deductible ways you can lend your support to the National Federation of the Blind.
Vehicle Donation Program
The NFB now accepts donated vehicles, including cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, or recreational vehicles. Just call (855) 659-9314 toll-free, and a representative can make arrangements to pick up your donation—it doesn’t have to be working. We can also answer any questions you have.
General donations help support the ongoing programs of the NFB and the work to help blind people live the lives they want. Donate online with a credit card or through the mail with check or money order. Visit www.nfb.org/make-gift for more information.
Even if you can’t afford a gift right now, including the National Federation of the Blind in your will enables you to contribute by expressing your commitment to the organization and promises support for future generations of blind people across the country. Visit www.nfb.org/planned-giving or call (410) 659-9314, extension 2422, for more information.
Through the Pre-Authorized Contribution (PAC) program, supporters sustain the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind by making recurring monthly donations by direct withdraw of funds from a checking account or a charge to a credit card. To enroll, visit www.nfb.org/make-gift, complete the Pre-Authorized Contribution form, and return it to the address listed on the form.