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, 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. As president and CEO, Lyford oversees these organizations that 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 establishing the Gary and Mary West Foundation in 2006. Under her leadership, the Gary and Mary West Foundation has awarded 545 grants totaling more than $213 million to date for applied medical research, policy initiatives and community support and social services for seniors and their caregivers. Lyford also leads the Gary and Mary West Health Institute as it conducts research on a wide range of healthcare issues affecting seniors and their families. The data generated is used to provide the evidence needed for healthcare providers, policymakers and communities to make more informed decisions about high-quality, affordable healthcare delivery models and support services to enable successful aging in America.
Lyford has spearheaded the development of innovative healthcare delivery ecosystems 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 senior-specific emergency department, and the Gary and Mary West PACE in north San Diego, the gold standard for Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) programs, which help seniors age in place rather than in a nursing home. Additionally, she oversaw the development of the first of its kind, nonprofit Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center 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 major collaborators including the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Geriatrics Society, Brown University, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Duke University, Meals on Wheels America, Mount Sinai Health System, UC San Diego Health and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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, and subsequently appointed to California’s Master Plan for Aging Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
Lyford serves as vice chair of the board of directors for Civica Rx, a not-for-profit generic drug company helping 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 a board member of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, where she promotes 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. She grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont and currently resides in Encinitas, CA. An avid traveler and sports enthusiast, she enjoys running, golfing, riding horses and playing basketball.