A Champion for Children

Photo Credit: Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

UMKC honors Dr. Michele Kilo with Alumni Achievement Award

Pediatrician Michele Kilo is a champion for families affected by autism spectrum and attention deficit disorders.

“I’m focused on helping our community become one that sees children with developmental and learning differences as gifts, rather than as burdens,” said Kilo, a University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine associate pediatrics professor and director of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences at Children’s Mercy. “Having the chance to get involved in advocating for my patients and their families in our local school districts, agencies that provide critical therapies to them and in developing organizations and not-for-profits that have and will continue to enhance their lives into adulthood — this is the work I am ever dedicated to and that occupies my heart and soul.”

For her work inside and outside of the clinic, Kilo is being honored with the 2014 UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award. She graduated in 1984 from UMKC’s combined six-year B.A./M.D. School of Medicine program.

Kilo leads Children Mercy’s Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences, which has grown from eight to 80 professionals during her 23 years at the helm. After joining Children’s Mercy, she became president of the medical staff, served on the board of directors and has chaired the Medical Executive Committee and Medical Staff Health and Wellness Committee.

In 2008, the governor appointed Kilo to the Missouri Autism Commission. Her dedication to special needs children has led to her service as board chair of the Jellybean Conspiracy, a Kansas City-based nonprofit that meets the social needs and artistic aspirations of high school students with disabilities.

“She has made incalculable contributions to our organization and has helped guide us from very small beginnings to a program with national outreach,” said Howard Martin, executive director of the Jellybean Conspiracy and a lecturer in the UMKC Department of Theatre. “She has brought a rare combination of passion, imagination and resourcefulness to everything she has done for us, and what she has done for us, she has done for many others as well.”

At UMKC, in addition to her position as associate professor for the School of Medicine, Kilo has served in various volunteer positions such as president of the School of Medicine Alumni Association and chairman of the School of Medicine’s Board of Visitors. She is a lifetime member of the UMKC Alumni Association.

“I am ever grateful to UMKC for the opportunity and the experience, and have always felt the best way for me to repay or to give back to the school was through my time and connections,” Kilo said. “I heed few boundaries when it comes to friendship and relationships.”

She said her experience at UMKC taught her about caring for people. One of her most memorable experiences was meeting a woman named Mildred, a patient in her first Docent/Internal Medicine rotation at Truman Medical Center, one of UMKC’s clinical partners. Mildred was sick from diabetes and alcohol abuse. Over months, Kilo treated Mildred repeatedly.

“I realized how we as people are all the same, we all struggle through difficult times, we all fall off the wagon from time to time, and we all need to be cared for and valued,” Kilo said. “I ended up having a many-year relationship with Mildred, as her medical care provider and most importantly, as a friend.”

Initially, Kilo said she strongly resisted pediatrics as an option to pursue, perhaps because it was an expected choice for women in medicine.

“However, being a person who is blessed with a joyful spirit and the belief that every day must include a good bit of fun, no matter how hard or serious the work, I realized in my fourth year that it was during my pediatrics experiences that I was most truly able to be myself,” she said.

Currently, Kilo is working on ways to care for colleagues through building a Center for Professionalism and Well-Being at Children’s Mercy and the UMKC School of Medicine.

“The intent of the center is to provide a confidential environment where the behavioral health and emotional needs of healthcare professionals can be addressed, supporting overall personal well-being and their maintenance of ongoing safe and quality care for patients and families,” Kilo said. “Infused into the curriculum of the center are practices in mindfulness including mindfulness-based stress reduction designed to give all participants the daily practices needed to decrease stress and burnout and increase job and life satisfaction.”

Kilo’s award at UMKC, and those of the other alumni honorees, one from each school and the five university-wide awards of distinction, will be presented at the 2014 Alumni Awards luncheon on April 24. For information and tickets for the event, visit the 2014 Alumni Awards web page.

| Stacy Downs, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications




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