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Staff Q&A: Kate Harken, administrative director, Lurie Cancer Center

Kate Harken

Kate Harken is administrative director, education and development at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Where are you originally from?  

My hometown is Western Springs, Ill., a suburb about 20 miles west of Chicago.

What is your educational background?

I am a proud alumnus of the University of Notre Dame and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a double major in english and gender studies.

Please tell us about your professional background. 

I spent the first 12 years of my professional life in healthcare marketing communications, advertising and strategy. I held roles in account management and business development, partnering with academic medical centers and large health systems like Northwestern.

I left the for-profit sector to join The H Foundation, a local nonprofit that supports basic science cancer research at the Lurie Cancer Center as the foundation’s first executive director. There, I gained valuable experience that helped me to transition into my current role as administrative director, education and development at the Lurie Cancer Center, a role I’ve held for nearly six years.

Why do you enjoy working at Northwestern?

I am inspired by the passion and dedication of my colleagues and our faculty to support Lurie Cancer Center’s mission.

How do you help scientists or research students at the medical school?

My team plans and manages a large portfolio of educational opportunities for scientists, physicians, post-docs, graduate students, nurses, other healthcare professionals and staff, from large multi-day conferences to grand rounds to weekly seminars, special lectures and more.

What is your favorite part of the job?

No day is the same! I am involved in many different initiatives in the Lurie Cancer Center. This provides me with the opportunity to use a variety of my skills and leverage my previous professional experience to help us succeed.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I spend much of my free time in my kitchen, cooking and baking for my partner, family and friends. I also love relaxing with my dog, watching the latest and greatest TV shows and movies. Clover actually watches the screen along with me!