Kelley Butler, MPH is a 4th year student and soon-to-be graduate of the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Hailing from Los Angeles, Kelley has committed herself to serving marginalized communities. She is an active member in various causes dedicated to students and professionals of color, people suffering from substance use disorder and addiction, people experiencing houselessness, and others.
Kelley graduated from Howard University in 2015 with a passion for serving communities without access to health insurance, quality healthcare or education, and then completed her Masters of Public Health in Health Policy at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. There, she lead organizing efforts in juvenile justice reform and prison divestment, presented research on substance use and addiction treatment, completed a fellowship in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, increased civic engagement on campus through the Harvard Votes Campaign and oversaw a workshop series on Imposter Syndrome.
Following her masters studies, she went on to serve rural and frontier communities in Oregon as an Opioid Response Program Associate for Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc. She recently matched at UCSF in Family Medicine and is excited to join her partner, Shane, in the Bay Area this summer.
What part of medicine fascinates you the most?
I’m constantly fascinated by how the art and science of medicine and the business and politics of medicine can be at odds. That tension motivated my pursuance of a degree in public health and health policy, it motivates my practice in taking care of some of our most vulnerable communities and it motivates my desire to lead. DFA is a really cool space to flex those advocacy muscles and hone skills in leadership necessary to alleviate that tension.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a binge TV watcher (currently working on Snowfall and The Handmaid’s Tale), yogi and live-music lover. I CANNOT WAIT for my first fully-vaccinated, safe music festival. I’m not going to know what to do with myself!
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I’m a pretty open book (blame that on my Leo Sun), but some people don’t know I didn’t always want to be a doctor. I wasn’t the ‘all my life I knew’ type. While I figured it out pretty quickly in college, I grew up wanting to express myself in the arts. Third grade Kelley wanted to be a choreographer! I think that’s why I have such an appreciation for visual, musical, and virtual arts today, as a consumer because whew I lack the skill entirely.
If you could have dinner with anyone in history that made a positive impact on healthcare, who would it be?
Easy – Dr. Jocelyn Elders. The first Black woman to serve a Surgeon General of the United States appointed under Bill Clinton. She’s largely recognized for stirring controversy on the topics of reproductive rights, a national health insurance program and drug legalization. She brought topics for consideration to the political table that no one else in her position had as an already hyper-scrutinized member of the US Public Health Service. I can relate to her in a lot of ways and not so secretly hope to access the same political platform she did one day. Let’s go get a drink, girl…. a strong one at that.