Kelly Close has spent the past three decades focused on directly improving the plight of those in need but more importantly, developing systems and policies to address their issues on a more global and sustained level. Close graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and obtained a Master’s in Public Health in Health Policy and Management from Yale University. As the former National Coordinator of Disaster Volunteers for the American Red Cross, she has extensive experience in disaster management. She is a recognized leader, innovator and expert in emergency and disaster planning, preparedness, mitigation and response due in part to her experience in national and international disasters, including September 11, 2001 at ground zero in New York City and Israel. However, she honed her skills in nonprofit leadership and policy creation through her work as an advocate for the homeless, mentally ill, pregnant teanagers, EMS and complex medical patients. She learned to identify needs, and then create, execute and evaluate systems and policies to address then. For these initiatives, she earned the President of the United States Service Award, Yale University President’s Service Award, Yale University Martin Luther King Award, UCLA Chancellor’s Humanitarian Award and Lehigh University’s Most Outstanding Graduating Senior Award, just to name a few. In addition, as the Executive and Medical Director of UPMC’s Center for Emergency Medicine, division of Emed Health (now called UPMC’s Connect Community Paramedicine Program) for seven years, Close led and disseminated a model of utilizing EMS personnel and agencies to address gaps in medical care. For instance, EMS-led mobile flu vaccine programs, chronic disease management home visits and employer-based health screenings significantly improved outcomes, costs and patient satisfaction. Throughout Close’s career she also saw the value of computer systems as tools to improve healthcare and has been on the forefront of the implementation of healthcare software and expert computer systems for clinical guidelines, order entry and medical records. Fundamentally, at the core of Close’s career is a love of teaching students, patients, and public policy leaders so that they can improve their lives and the lives of others.
Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology