Founder, 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 website focused on making people with diabetes healthier and happier and advocating for action. Since 2002, she has also run Close Concerns, a healthcare information firm exclusively focused on diabetes and obesity. Each year Kelly and her colleagues attend over 50 scientific, regulatory, and economic conferences around the world, focused on diabetes and obesity; they read the key medical literature in the field and write regularly about 50-plus private and public companies and nonprofit organizations. Kelly's passion for diabetes comes from her extensive professional work as well as her personal experience as a type 1 patient for nearly 30 years.
Prior to starting Close Concerns, Kelly was an analyst in the financial sector, writing about medical technology companies, and she also worked at McKinsey & Company, where a majority of her work was focused on healthcare. Kelly is recognized as an expert on diabetes and obesity markets, and she is a frequent speaker on the public health implications of diabetes and obesity. A longtime diabetes patient advocate, Kelly was previously on the Board of Directors of the Diabetes Hands Foundation, the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, and the Executive Board of the San Francisco Bay Area JDRF. Kelly is a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Business School. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three children.
Chief Operating Officer, The diaTribe Foundation
Jim comes to The diaTribe Foundation after seven years as the Vice President of Finance and Administration at Common Sense Media and 6 years as the Managing Director of Equality California where he led the team to successfully pass over 70 pieces of legislation to achieve legal equality for LGBT Californians. He also worked at an environmental health organization called The Breast Cancer Fund and at the National office of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Jim graduated from the University of Florida and lives with his husband, Scott, and their two yellow Labrador Retrievers in San Francisco.
Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, The diaTribe Foundation
Caroline joined The diaTribe Foundation in 2018, where she brings her passion and expertise in strategy, product management, and development to help improve the lives of people with diabetes. Most recently, Caroline was director of strategy and innovation for Providence Health & Services in Portland, Oregon, where she worked with service line executives to decide where to focus to create the greatest value. This included developing strategic and business plans for, among other things, the launch of their primary care retail strategy, and measuring success through the creation and monitoring of performance dashboards.
Prior to healthcare, Caroline spent a dozen years in nonprofit leadership, including a decade at New Door Ventures in San Francisco, where she helped grow fundraising revenues 450% in three years and started a new social purpose cafe to help at-risk youth transition to a healthy adulthood. She also spent a decade in high tech in the Bay Area, launching and marketing new products for a global telecom software company and an Internet start-up for women’s sports gear that she co-founded.
Caroline began her career as a policy advisor to US Senator Arlen Specter in Washington, D.C. where she learned about tackling big thorny issues with a mixture of determination, impatience, compromise, and creativity.
Caroline has a B.A. in Political Science and an MBA from Stanford University. Caroline and her husband recently moved from Portland to Minneapolis to be close to Caroline’s large Greek family. Caroline and Paul are overjoyed parents of three children.
Deputy Director and dNetwork Director, The diaTribe Foundation
Tom is thrilled to assume the newly created full-time role of Deputy Director and dNetwork Director at The diaTribe Foundation on March 9, 2020. For over a year Tom has had the pleasure of serving as a special advisor to The diaTribe Foundation, including attending Aspen Ideas Health 2019 as part of the diaTribe team.
Tom brings to over 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector, with fifteen years in senior leadership roles including executive director/CEO (Portland Baroque Orchestra) and chief advancement officer (Portland Japanese Garden). At the center of Tom’s passions and abilities is his commitment to bringing talented minds together to achieve outcomes that are greater than the sum of their parts. Through authentic communication he endeavors to learn the core values and gifts of thought leaders and experts in their fields and then bring these individuals together to lead effective and creative action.
With a long record of success in the arts and culture sector, Tom is excited to move into the public health arena and devote his entire energy to solve the diabetes epidemic and improve the lives of people with diabetes.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College, where he met Kelly Close over thirty years ago, Tom did graduate work at the Free University of Berlin and completed the executive leadership fellowship at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Editorial Director, The diaTribe Foundation
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.
Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Development, The diaTribe Foundation
Alijah completed her Bachelor Degree in Collaborative Health and Human Services at California State University, Monterey Bay and her Master in Public Health degree at San Jose State University – both with an emphasis on community health. Alijah brings ten years of non-profit involvement, with a focus on health education, program development and implementation, community outreach, and organizational development. Alijah has served as a long-standing volunteer and intern for numerous health-related nonprofits which include The Compassionate Friends bereavement support organization, Planned Parenthood, and the Brisbane Lions Club, where she serves as the Club Diabetes Chairperson. Outside of work, Alijah enjoys second-hand fashion, animals, vegan food, and coastal hikes.
Director of Advocacy and Policy, The diaTribe Foundation
Emily Fitts is the Director of Advocacy and Policy at The diaTribe Foundation and leads regulatory- and policy-based initiatives to elevate the voices of people with diabetes and to advocate for action. Emily has worked, in particular, on the Outcomes Beyond A1C movement, including helping to organize diaTribe’s 2017 consensus conference and publish the subsequent report in Diabetes Care. Emily also co-lead the creation of diaTribe's new advocacy platform, diaTribe Change. Emily joined The diaTribe Foundation as an Associate in 2017 after graduating cum laude from Amherst with a degree in Psychology and a certificate in Culture, Health, and Science. She completed a senior honors thesis that investigated the social norms surrounding stress, sleep, and related-disclosure and the influence of perfectionism on the misperceptions of such norms. Previously, Emily was a Summer Associate for Close Concerns in 2016 and worked for The Union for International Cancer Control in Geneva, Switzerland, where she explored the business side of a public health nonprofit organization as the Business Development and External Relations intern. Outside of work, you can find Emily reminiscing about her 8-year rowing career (on hiatus) or exploring the Bay Area with friends.
Community Manager, The diaTribe Foundation
Cherise Shockley joined The diaTribe Foundation in 2019 as the organization’s first Community Manager. Cherise was diagnosed with Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults in June 2004. She is the founder of Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (#dsma), creator of the Blue Fridays initiative and Women of Color (WOC) Diabetes. Cherise is a subject matter expert in diabetes social media, online communities, and peer support. She is a wife, mother, and veteran. She received her degree in Mass Communications and Media Studies with a minor in Digital Audience from Arizona State University.
Senior Associate, The diaTribe Foundation
Eliza Skoler joined The diaTribe Foundation in 2019, after graduating cum laude from Carleton College with a degree in Biology. Her undergraduate studies focused on human biology and neuroscience, and she wrote a senior thesis on the relationship between the gut microbiome and the respiratory antiviral immune system. During college, Eliza spent a summer working at a community health clinic in South Africa, where she became passionate about health literacy as a way of empowering patients to engage with their physical well being. Eliza has taught people around the world about healthy living, from aerobics classes and nutrition workshops to CPR courses and HIV management practices. At Carleton, Eliza managed health and safety for the club sports department and competed on Carleton’s nationally-ranked Division I ultimate frisbee team.
Senior Associate, The diaTribe Foundation
Frida Velcani joined The diaTribe Foundation in 2019 after graduating from Vassar College Phi Beta Kappa with general and departmental honors. She has a degree in Science, Technology, & Society and a minor in Hispanic Studies. As an undergraduate, Frida delved into the topics of health systems and patient-centered care through her interdisciplinary studies. She reported on novel technologies used in emergency response as a writer for the Crisis Response Journal and served as President of three student-led organizations. In her leadership roles, Frida advanced health promotion efforts on campus, hosted fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, and organized weekly programming at the local assisted-living facility. Frida’s undergraduate work culminated in a thesis where she proposed technical, organizational, and personal recommendations for successful breast center microsystems and positive breast cancer screening experiences.
Senior Associate, The diaTribe Foundation
Karena Yan joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2019 after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelors in Biology and Global Health and Environment. As an undergrad, she held an executive position in WashU's First Year Center, working closely with university staff members and student leaders to make first-year students' transition to college seamless and comfortable. Karena also spent two summers as a data analyst and laboratory intern at the Stanley Center of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, working on a project to identify biomarkers of schizophrenia. She is passionate about minority and underserved communities' access to healthcare, serving over two hundred hours as a volunteer at Barnes Jewish Hospital, Lawrence General Hospital, and Affinia Healthcare. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, playing tennis, reading, and traveling.
Associate, The diaTribe Foundation
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 patient 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.
Associate, The diaTribe Foundation
Julia joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2020 after graduating with a degree in Political Science and International Relations from Carleton College. Throughout her studies, Julia developed an interest in the social determinants of health that often result in inequitable geographic, economic, and identity-based health outcomes. Eager to explore these themes internationally, Julia worked on HIV/AIDS behavior change communications as an intern in Uganda, and studied the health impact of globalization and politics in India. She later interned at a management consulting firm, where she supported market research strategies for health-oriented consumer products. In her senior thesis, Julia explored the intersection of health and the political climate— identifying a relationship between reproductive health access and right-wing nationalism domestically. In her free time, Julia worked as a Student Advisor for the Carleton Career Center and was part of the Division III women’s soccer and ultimate frisbee teams.