Program Director

Sarah J. Kiskadden-Bechtel MBe

Sarah J. Kiskadden-Bechtel is the Program Director for the Completed Life Initiative.


Sarah has been immersed in bioethics for the past twelve years. She watched her aunt Kathy, a Christian Scientist, die from metastatic breast cancer at 57 years old after ignoring a lump for months due to her religious basis for rejecting modern medicine.


In addition to running the Completed Life Initiative as its Program Director, Sarah serves as an Associate for two courses in the Masters of Bioethics program at Columbia University, “Law and Bioethics” and “Organizational Ethics.” She also serves as a member of the Carson Tahoe Health Institutional Review Board, and is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Voices in Bioethics: An Online JournalPrior to joining the Completed Life Initiative, Sarah implemented and facilitated a globally significant CDC award-winning clinical research study in tuberculosis control — via electronic monitoring for patient adherence to treatment at a New York City public health clinic. Sarah and her “eDOT” team earned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention Honor Award for Excellence in Program or Policy Evaluation (eDOT Project Team) for “Excellence in evaluating the use, impact, and cost of digital technology to monitor adherence to tuberculosis treatment.” In addition, Sarah is a member of the Empire State Bioethics Consortium


Sarah earned a Master of Science in Bioethics from Columbia University, and is a graduate of Bard College with a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies. Her undergraduate thesis focused on Ancient Greek Medicine and translating Hippocrates’ Prognostic


Sarah is an avid seeker of the “happy medium” in life, especially to emulate the Latin phrase mens sana in corpore sana, a healthy mind in a healthy body. Her weekly solace is shabbat, and she is a beginning violinist, enthusiastic cook, yogi, rock climber, and explorer of the Shawangunk mountains. Sarah lives in New York City with her husband, Joshua, and their two cats, Miso and Logan.

FAVORITE QUOTE

“Don’t cry

– the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other; then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis.”

– e.e. cummings

“When my Aunt Kathy died, the notion of a completed life flashed before me. My aunt never got the chance to complete her life. She thought she would live several more months, if not years, when she died. She wasn’t ready to die: she hadn’t finished living yet. Her daughter was about to graduate college. Her last moments were spent in a sterile hospital bed against her religious beliefs, hooked up to a morphine drip that quelled the searing metastatic pain in her bones and chest. She clung to the IV drip as a modicum of the life she had known before that was without pain. If she had been able to complete her life, she would have been able to pass peacefully in a pasture, surrounded by her family and the horses she loved so much.”