40 Under 40 2018 | Kelly Calabria

Kelly Calabria has been a rising star at Ketchum for most of her career. Now EVP and director of health services, Calabria has orchestrated coalition building around some of the most important issues of our time, including helping Blue Cross and Blue Shield North Carolina shape the healthcare debate brought on by the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Her work for healthcare and life sciences clients has earned numerous awards and has played a major role in transforming brands, companies, issues, and ballot initiatives. By focusing on grassroots coalitions that deliver the right messages at the right time to the right audience, Calabria’s team helped secure the passage of a constitutional amendment to enable North Carolina municipalities to issue tax increment financing, a vital project development measure that had previously failed to win voter approval two times.

The team’s Let’s Talk About Cost initiative, created for Blue Cross NC in 2010, continues to provoke honest dialogue about rising healthcare costs and the shared responsibility to fix the system. Using integrating paid, earned, shared, and owned communications, the highly creative, social media-centric campaign blends facts with humor to deliver its message and has successfully reduced the number of people who believe insurers are responsible for higher health costs in half, while bolstering brand favorability.

Calabria recently helped shepherd independent Capstrat’s seamless transition into Ketchum’s global network.

Her peers say her commitment to work, family, and causes that matter make her "an inspiration to clients, colleagues, and the citizens she touches."

- Calabria serves on the board of the Blue Ridge Corridor Alliance, an independent nonprofit organization that promotes investments that will result in new jobs, increased tax revenue, and amenities in North Carolina.

- She helped spearhead community service work in her office through the Close for Good program.

- She held leadership roles in American Diabetes Association’s Raleigh and Eastern North Carolina chapter and was a board member of the North Carolina Biosciences Organization.

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