Kelly W. Brown, MPH (MPH '06), MBA
Kelly W. Brown, MPH (MPH ’06), MBA realized while pursuing a finance degree at Virginia Tech that she did not want to become a stockbroker, banker or work in the field in a traditional sense.
Through friends and family, she learned about the non-clinical programs at Eastern Virginia Medical School that were more business oriented. The Portsmouth native toured EVMS and fell in love with its community feel.
“I decided I would rather put my financial and business skills, and time and passion, into something more meaningful: the public health of the community that I wanted to come back and live in,” Brown says.
So, after completing her bachelor’s degree at Virginia Tech, Brown went on to earn a Master of Public Health (MPH) from EVMS.
She has spent most of her career working with Amerigroup (later named Anthem/Elevance through acquisitions) and currently serves as the Staff Vice President for Business Improvement within Provider/Clinical Operations and Performance Analytics.
As a student at EVMS, Brown was good with data but not so adept on the biology side of health. Through practicum programs focusing on research and patient observations, she was exposed to the clinical side of healthcare, which brought the ‘math’ to life.
Brown enjoyed volunteering at The Strelitz Diabetes Center, getting to work with Aaron Vinik, MD, PhD, who then was director of research at the center. “It was here that I first learned to not isolate diabetes as a singular disease, but all of the impacts it has on the quality of one’s life,” Brown says. “This also shaped a strong perspective on preventative care and maintenance. And that’s the type of experience they would give you, right there in the community with your neighbors.”
She also worked at the C3ID Infectious disease/HIV clinic that EVMS staffed in Nassawadox, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. She documented patients’ conditions and their social determinants of health. Most patients were migrant workers with a panel of comorbidities — both behavioral and physical. This is where she also learned that ‘whole health’ matters.
These personal, community-based experiences are a big part of what makes EVMS exceptional, Brown says. “They give you national exposure to academics, but is hyper-focused on learning within our local communities,” she said. “That’s what sets the student experience apart from other institutions.”
Brown has remained very involved as an alumna. She joined the EVMS Alumni Board in 2009 and served as chair from 2016-2022. Recently, she participated in a networking event for the American Medical Women's Association Student Chapter at EVMS and Alumni Relations. This speed networking event provided a space where current female identifying medical students could connect with alumni and ask career and personal questions on a variety of topics. Her advice? “Have fun, get grounded in work-life balance, and learn the business side of healthcare…its complex!”
To fine-tune her business skills, Brown attended Old Dominion University, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2012. That put her in the position of being an alumna of two schools that are working toward integration to create a new health sciences center in Hampton Roads.
“Both schools bring so many core competencies to the table that are academic, social, cultural, and with community-based benefits,” Brown says.
The merger provides pathways to more advanced and specialized clinical education that “create the runway to build some really creative integrative programs based on the student population,” she says.
For example, a student studying nursing at ODU might decide to go on to earn an MD at EVMS — and if they want to be an administrator, they can pursue an MPH as well. And ODU’s robust athletic program will provide EVMS students interested in sports medicine an opportunity to study athletes up close, assist with care and conduct research.
Plus, she adds, “now that ODU has a football team, how cool will it be for EVMS students to attend games as well and be part of that family?”
Brown encourages students, teachers and alumni of both schools, as well as members of the community, to rally behind everyone who is making the integration happen.
“Be open with ideas, be willing to volunteer your time,” she says. “Great things are never done by one person — they’re done by a team! We are so lucky to have these special institutions in our backyard that do so much for our communities, and even more so in the future collaboration.”