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 Executive Officer
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Director of Institutional Giving
Julie is thrilled to bring her combined 12+ years of leadership at the American Diabetes Association and 23 years of patient experience to The diaTribe Foundation. Julie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after her junior year at Washington & Jefferson College. After graduation, she provided public affairs and PR counsel to clients like the Eisenhower Presidential Museum, The National Center for Victims of Crime and Americans for Alaska. She eventually earned a position at Burson Marsteller, where she consulted a Fortune 500 company on government and community affairs. In 2006, Julie accepted her first staff position with the American Diabetes Association as Market Director in Richmond, VA. She oversaw some of the country’s most successful ADA campaigns during her tenure in Philadelphia, as Director of Development and as Executive Director in Western PA and Eastern Ohio. Julie and her husband, Steve, reside outside Pittsburgh, PA with their eight year old daughter, Vivian.
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.
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.
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.
Devanshi joined The diaTribe Foundation in 2021 after graduating from Wellesley College with a double major in Neuroscience and Women’s & Gender Studies. As an undergraduate, she interned at a reproductive health organization in the Philippines where she developed an interest in learning about health systems and mitigating inequities in healthcare access and delivery. Eager to explore these issues further, she later interned with the Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones team at Physicians for Human Rights where she researched the impact of COVID-19 on women’s healthcare workers and the differential access to care for survivors of gender-based violence in conflict zones. At Wellesley, Devanshi was the president of her campus global health organization and led workshops on privilege and oppression to foster inclusivity on campus as a Community Inclusion Facilitator. In her free time, she enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, road tripping, and cooking with friends.
Natalie joined the diaTribe Foundation in 2021. Natalie graduated cum laude from Carleton College in 2020 with a degree in Political Science and International Relations. As an undergrad, Natalie worked in Carleton’s Office of Health Promotion where she enjoyed educating herself and her peers on health topics that promoted the well-being of the campus community. While at Carleton, she developed an interest in health policy and learning how to create and continuously improve the strategies that affect communities’ health outcomes. Natalie is especially passionate about understanding how to mitigate the disproportionate, negative effects of environmental factors on the well-being of underserved populations. She also spent time in Nicaragua visiting health clinics and schools and speaking with clinicians to understand how they assess community needs and keep children healthy. In her free time, Natalie enjoys baking, bike riding, yoga, and tracking down the best local ice cream shops.