Living with diabetes can bring significant challenges to nearly every aspect of life. It can also bring significant opportunities. For patient advocate Kelly Close, diabetes has always been an opportunity – to discover her passion, to develop greater empathy for others, and to learn patience and strength. She has never viewed diabetes as a barrier; rather, it has been the impetus to her lifelong dedication to improve the lives of people with diabetes and those who love them.
When Kelly was a child, teachers and family members frequently described her as a “learner.” She eagerly absorbed knowledge on topics ranging from literature to art to politics. When Kelly was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) during her first year of college, she immediately applied this relentless curiosity to gain as much knowledge as possible about the disease. Even while busy earning her MBA at Harvard Business School and working at Goldman Sachs and McKinsey & Company in her 20s, Kelly devoted time to studying every new advance in diabetes therapies and technologies. Knowledge was power, which enabled her to make better decisions about her own health.
But her own self-improvement was not enough. Kelly believed the insights she gained from the latest advancements in diabetes could not only empower patients but also help physicians, drug and device manufacturers and policymakers. In 2002, she founded Close Concerns, an organization devoted to making everyone smarter about diabetes. Her team there, comprised of half a dozen millennials primarily working to be leaders in the health care system, synthesizes the latest news in diabetes and provides insights on therapies, technologies, research, and policy and regulatory developments. In 2006, she and her team launched diaTribe, an educational resource that provides information specifically for patients so they can live happier, healthier, and more hopeful lives.
Seeking even greater impact, Kelly decided to turn diaTribe into a nonprofit organization, The diaTribe Foundation in 2012. With generous support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, she established the Foundation to bolster the diaTribe newsletter and to catalyze efforts in advocacy and social change. A third organization, dQ&A was launched in 2009. Through its 15,000–patient panel, dQ&A has learned extensively about a wide range of patient and health care provider perspectives.
In all these endeavors, Kelly brings extraordinary knowledge, dedication, and inspiration to the diabetes community, tirelessly organizing patient efforts to bring their views to
regulators and policymakers. She has dedicated her life to this cause – to not just advocate on behalf of patients but to enable them to become strong advocates themselves.