West Health’s approach to successful aging

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 and enabling 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 500 grants totaling nearly $200 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 seniors and their families. The research generated is used to provide the evidence needed for healthcare providers, policymakers and communities to make more informed decisions about healthcare delivery models and support services that enable successful aging in America.

Lyford has spearheaded the development of innovative healthcare delivery systems that serve as national care models of excellence, including San Diego’s first Geriatric Emergency Unit; and the first of its kind Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center in downtown San Diego, which provides high-quality, affordable dental care integrated with health and wellness services for lower-income seniors. These and other care models are supported by various research initiatives with collaborators that include the American Geriatrics Society, University of California San Diego Health System, Mount Sinai in New York, Brown University and Northwestern University.

As President and CEO of the Gary and Mary West Foundation, Lyford serves on the Board of Directors for Civica Rx, a not-for-profit generic drug company that will help patients by addressing shortages and high prices of lifesaving medications. Additionally, Lyford is board chair for the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center; vice-chair of the board of directors for Grantmakers in Aging (GIA); 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.