Kelly L. Close
Founder of The diaTribe Foundation
Kelly L. Close is the founder and Chair of the Board of The diaTribe Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people living with diabetes and prediabetes, and advocating for action. Since 2006, she has been the Editor-in-Chief of diaTribe, our free newsletter focused on making people with diabetes healthier and happier and advocating for action. She has also run Close Concerns since 2002, a healthcare information firm exclusively focused on diabetes and obesity. Kelly and her colleagues attend over 40 scientific, regulatory, and economic conferences globally focused on diabetes and obesity, read key medical literature in the field, and write regularly about 50-plus private and public companies and nonprofit organizations in the area. Kelly's passion for diabetes comes from her extensive professional work as well as her personal experience as a patient with type 1 diabetes for over 25 years. Prior to starting Close Concerns, Kelly worked in the financial sector, writing about medical technology companies, and worked at McKinsey & Company, where a majority of her work focused in the healthcare practice. Kelly is widely viewed as an expert on diabetes and obesity markets and as a frequent speaker on the public health implications of diabetes and obesity, she is a tireless supporter of patients. A longtime diabetes advocate, Kelly is on the board of directors of the Diabetes Hands Foundation and the Behavioral Diabetes Institute and was previously on the Executive Board of the SF Bay Area JDRF. Kelly is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Business School. She lives in San Francisco with her children Coco, Lola, and Valentino and husband, with whom she runs Close Concerns.
Michael Howerton joined The diaTribe Foundation in 2021. He is the former Editor in Chief of the San Francisco Examiner and was founding Editor in Chief of Granite Media, a digital media company in San Francisco. He also served as Chief of Staff to San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed, now mayor of San Francisco, overseeing her public policy and legislative agenda.
Michael has worked at the Wall Street Journal, The Daily, Forbes and many other publications, and has won writing awards from the California Newspapers Publishers Association, the New York Society of Professional Journalists’ Deadline Club, the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists and the New England Associated Press Newspaper Association. He led the San Francisco Examiner to its first statewide CNPA General Excellence award in 2015. He is a graduate of UCLA, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and the San Francisco State University Graduate Program in English Composition.
An essay about his reporting on the 9/11 attacks in New York was published in "At Ground Zero: 25 Stories from Young Reporters Who Were There.” Michael has taught writing at UC Berkeley, the College of New Jersey, and Berkeley City College. He is also a fiction writer and has published stories in Salamander Magazine, Griffel, In Parentheses Magazine, and Yemassee Journal.
Matthew Garza joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2020 after graduating with honors from Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering where he majored in Biomedical Engineering and minored in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. As an undergraduate Matthew was heavily involved in research, working in the Hopkins Translational Tissue Engineering Center. His research focused primarily on stem cells, three-dimensional matrix scaffolds, and surgical outcomes for transgender patients. He has a passion for understanding more about the socioeconomic determinants of health and how they affect health outcomes, primarily for the LGBTQ population. Matthew swam for the Hopkins varsity swim team and was the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Hopkins’s Athlete Ally chapter. He enjoys swimming, running, hiking, and backpacking in his free time and he will never turn down the opportunity to eat good food or listen to good music.
Arvind Sommi joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2021 after graduating with Phi Beta Kappa and honors from the University of Florida where he majored in Biology and minored in Sociology. As an undergraduate, Arvind was passionate about volunteering with the underserved through an SAT tutoring program and a free student-run medical clinic, the Equal Access Clinic. At the Equal Access Clinic, Arvind served as the Social Work Coordinator, connecting uninsured patients with social workers and helping to address the social determinants of health. Arvind spent one summer volunteering at rural community health clinics in Peru, where he learned more about empowering people through health literacy and education. During college, Arvind designed and taught an honors course on medical humanities, an experience he had the opportunity to present at the Stanford School of Medicine. Arvind aspires to serve as a future healthcare leader through education, advocacy, and innovation. In his free time, he loves learning how to cook new foods, hiking around the Bay Area, and playing board games such as Settlers of Catan.
Drew Briskin joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2021 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in Health and Societies with a minor in Chemistry. As an undergraduate, Drew was involved in research at the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, focusing primarily on the effects of endocrine disrupting compounds on cellular metabolism and its intersection with the circadian clock. He has also volunteered with the Penn Netter Center for Community Partnerships, teaching chemistry lesson plans and working with students in local West Philadelphia High schools. Drew is very interested in better understanding the social determinants of health, completing a capstone research paper which focuses on racial disparities in overall outcomes of emergency care for heart disease throughout the United States. In his free time, Drew likes spending time outdoors, enjoying activities such as skiing, biking, swimming, golf, hiking, and traveling.
James S. Hirsch
James S. Hirsch, a former reporter for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, is a best-selling author who has written 10 nonfiction books. They include biographies of Willie Mays and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter; an investigation into the Tulsa race riot of 1921; and an examination of our diabetes epidemic. Jim has also written collaborations with Beach Boys' founder Mike Love, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, former Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. Hirsch has an undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a graduate degree from the LBJ School of Public Policy at the University of Texas. He lives in the Boston area with his wife, Sheryl, and they have two children, Amanda and Garrett. Jim has worked as an editor and contributor to Close Concerns since 2004 and as senior editor and columnist for diaTribe since 2006, where he has contributed dozens of Logbook columns since diaTribe’s inception.
Charles M. Alexander, MD, FACP, FACE
Scientific and Medical Advisor
Charles M. Alexander, MD, FACP, FACE is an endocrinologist who has more than 35 years of experience in diabetes – in both direct care and research. Since 2016, he has provided advisory services to pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Dr. Alexander retired from Merck in 2015 after nearly 25 years in both Outcomes Research and Medical Affairs. Prior to joining Merck, he practiced diabetes, endocrinology and internal medicine in Los Angeles for ten years and was Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (KSOM/USC). Dr. Alexander has been a member of Penn Medicine’s Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (IDOM) Leadership Council since 2016, and an advisor for the diaTribe Foundation since 2016. Dr. Alexander received his medical degree from KSOM/USC where he completed his postgraduate training in internal medicine and diabetes/endocrinology. Dr. Alexander is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology-Metabolism and is a Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American College of Endocrinology. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and a frequent reviewer for medical journals.