Shelley Lyford is president and chief executive officer of West Health, the Gary and Mary West Foundation and the West Health Institute. Solely funded by philanthropists Gary and Mary West, West Health is a family of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations including the Gary and Mary West Health Institute and Gary and Mary West Foundation in San Diego, and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. West Health is dedicated to lowering healthcare costs to enable seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. The organizations use a combination of applied medical research, policy, advocacy, and outcomes-based philanthropy to improve healthcare for seniors and lower costs.
Lyford played a critical role in helping establish the Gary and Mary West Foundation in 2006. Under her leadership, the Gary and Mary West Foundation has awarded more than 534 grants totaling nearly $212 million for applied medical research and community support and social services for seniors and their caregivers. Lyford also leads the Gary and Mary West Health Institute as it conducts applied medical research on a wide range of issues affecting healthcare costs and seniors.
Lyford has spearheaded the development of innovative healthcare delivery systems that serve as national care models of excellence, including the Gary and Mary West Senior Emergency Care Unit at UC San Diego Health, California’s first nationally-accredited facility. Additionally, she oversaw the development of the first of its kind Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, which is co-located in a popular senior community center in downtown San Diego, to ensure low-income seniors have access to high-quality, affordable dental care integrated with health and wellness services. These and other care models are supported by various research initiatives with collaborators that include the American Geriatrics Society, UC San Diego Health, Mount Sinai in New York, Brown University, and Northwestern University.
In 2019, Lyford was appointed for a three-year term as a commissioner on the California Commission on Aging, advising the state’s governor and legislature, along with federal, state, and local agencies, on issues, policies, and regulations that affect California’s seniors.
Lyford serves as vice chair of the board of directors for Civica Rx, a not-for-profit generic drug company that will help patients by addressing shortages and lowering the high prices of lifesaving medications. Lyford is also board chair for the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center; a board director with the Gary and Mary West Foundation; a board member of Generations United; and sits on the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors focused on promoting San Diego as an epicenter for successful aging research. Lyford holds a master’s degree in international relations and political economy from the University of San Diego.