The Sycamore Institute has tapped a health policy adviser from the Tennessee Department of Health to serve as executive director.
Eric Harkness will take lead at the nonpartisan think tank after nearly 14 years with the state health department, first as a project manager within the division of health planning and working his way up to become the director of strategic initiatives, a role he has held for two years. For the past eight years, he has also served as a health policy adviser to health commissioners under Governors Bill Haslam and Bill Lee.
Prior to the Department of Health, Harkness was an associate legislative research analyst for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury during Gov. Phill Bredesen’s administration. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy and sustainability studies in 2006 and a master's degree in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2018.
Harkness will replace founding executive director Laura Berlind for the role. Berlind will leave the policy research firm after its founding five years ago to lead the Adaptive Leadership Network. After a transition period, Harkness will assume the full-time role of executive director at the Sycamore Institute on Dec. 1.
“Eric is the perfect person to lead Sycamore through its next stage of growth and development,” Berlind said in a press release. “I prepare to depart with tremendous pride in what Sycamore has already achieved and absolute confidence that even greater days lie ahead.”