On November 5, 2023, Suzanne "Suzie" S. Harris, of Fairfax, Virginia, the longtime Executive Director of the International Life Sciences Institute ("ILSI"), passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 78 years old. Suzie leaves behind a legacy of academic and professional achievements that have had a lasting impact on the fields of chemistry and the life sciences.
Suzie's academic journey was marked by a passion for learning and a relentless pursuit of excellence. She obtained her bachelor's degree in chemistry from Vanderbilt University and went on to earn a PhD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her contributions to the field of chemistry were recognized early in her career, and she embarked on a journey of education, mentorship, and public service that would define her life.
In the early years of her career, Suzie taught courses at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for chemistry with countless students. Her dedication to education was not only limited to the classroom; she also served as an inspiration to many who aspired to follow in her footsteps.
Suzie's commitment to public service extended beyond the classroom. In 1985, she was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to lead the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion within the United States Department of Agriculture. Her work in this role contributed to the advancement of nutrition science and policy, reflecting her dedication to improving the lives of people and the environment.
In 1989, Suzie joined ILSI’s executive staff in Washington, DC. Over the years, she held various positions at ILSI, and her leadership and expertise led her to assume the roles of both Executive Director of ILSI and Executive Director of the ILSI Research Foundation. In these roles, Suzie played a pivotal part in shaping the organization's mission, fostering international collaboration, and advancing scientific research that addressed critical issues related to nutrition, food safety, and public health.
In 2017, after decades of tireless service, Suzie retired from her position at ILSI, leaving a lasting legacy of excellence, innovation, and collaboration in the field of life sciences.
Colleagues and friends who knew Suzie through ILSI remember her as nothing less than the beating heart of the organization. She was always kind and poised, and she treated everyone in a professional manner.
Suzie is survived by her husband, William “Bill” D. Harris, son William “Will” D. Harris Jr., and son Jonathan “Jon” L. Harris and their families, friends, and the countless lives she touched through her work as an educator, scientist, and public servant. Her memory will continue to inspire generations to come, and her contributions to the world of science and public health will be cherished forever.
A Celebration of Life Service for Suzie Harris will be held at The Falls Church Anglican, at 6565 Arlington Boulevard, Falls Church VA 22042, on November 28, 2023, at 11:00 AM, where friends, colleagues, and loved ones will come together to honor her memory.