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March 26, 2004

A Moment of Silence for Christina S. Herlihy, PhD (1950-2004)

By Editorial Staff

Dr. Christina Herlihy, the chief executive officer of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), passed away Tuesday, March 23, 2004, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 53.

The NCCAOM issued the following release on the passing of Dr. Herlihy on March 24, and is reprinted here with the commission's permission.

We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved friend and CEO, Christina S.

Herlihy, PhD (Chris), who passed away on March 23, 2004 after a brief battle with cancer.

It is difficult for any organization to lose its leader, but it is especially difficult when that leader is someone as dynamic, energetic, fun, caring, and nurturing as Chris. Anyone who knew Chris would tell you that she was the most charismatic, hardworking, dedicated, and kind person they have ever encountered.

Chris joined the NCCAOM as CEO in 1997. She was very passionate about bringing quality acupuncture and Oriental medicine care to people. Under her leadership, the NCCAOM expanded in both size and scope. She grew the organization from a staff of four in 1997 to 19 today and guided us twice through a rigorous accreditation process. More recently, she oversaw our award-winning job analysis study of the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession, which led to the reorganization of our examinations into a modular-based system, and the introduction of the new Oriental medicine certification program.

More importantly, she led the NCCAOM staff in a way that encouraged everyone to do his or her best work and to do it with kindness every single day. Her leadership style, a perfect mix of honesty, transparency, perfectionism, understanding, and a very strong work ethic, served to enhance the professional productivity and personal growth of every staff member. In the words of one staff member, "She made me feel like everything I do for NCCAOM is critically important ... she understood the value of the medicine that we bring to the public and she worked tirelessly to improve life for everybody." On her desk, a book is open to a page that reads, "Because they have touched the core of our being, we have changed and become more. And now, all that we see and feel is measured with a sacred reverence in honor of that love." The NCCAOM and the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession would not be what they are today without Chris' love and leadership. The NCCAOM Board and staff assure all interested parties that the superior standard of work and service produced by our organization will continue.

It is difficult for us to express what a fantastic leader and person Chris was and how terribly she will be missed. There simply are not enough words. Our sentiments are perhaps best expressed by the famous Helen Keller, "The most beautiful things in the world are not seen nor heard, but felt in the heart." Chris will surely remain in all of our hearts. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Herlihy family.

Dr. Herlihy's family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Checks should be made payable to PanCAN and sent to: PanCAN, 2221 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 131, El Segundo, CA 90245. Alternately, donations may be made online at Please mention that the donation is in honor of Christina Herlihy.
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