West Health’s approach to successful aging

Shelley Lyford is President and Chief Executive Officer of West Health. West Health is a nonprofit, nonpartisan family of organizations, solely founded by pioneering philanthropists, Gary and Mary West, whose mission is to enable seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and supportive 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 Lyford’s leadership, the Gary and Mary West Foundation has awarded more than 400 grants totaling more than $181 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 new, 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.

In addition to leading West Health, Lyford is 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.