Yale University

Elaine O'Keefe, M.S.

  • Executive Director, CIRA
  • Executive Director, Office of Public Health Practice, Yale School of Public Health
  • Lecturer in Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), Yale School of Public Health
  • Member, Executive Committee, CIRA
(203) 764-4333


Elaine O'Keefe joined CIRA as Executive Director in March 2008. She brings extensive experience in public health administration including 14 years as Health Director for Stratford, Connecticut and before that as the AIDS Division Director for the City of New Haven. Elaine holds a masters degree from the School of Public Health, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and she is a graduate of the Center for Disease Control/University of California Public Health Leadership Institute Scholar's Program. As Executive Director of CIRA, she provides ongoing financial and administrative leadership of the Center, and works with the leadership team to implement strategic direction in support of the CIRA mission.

Elaine is a founding member of the New Haven Mayor's Task Force on AIDS and the Women's AIDS Coalition. She created the City's first dedicated AIDS unit in the New Haven Health Department during the early days of the epidemic and was responsible for developing and managing a spectrum of HIV services including innovative community outreach and education interventions, HIV counseling and testing, and case management services for persons with HIV/AIDS. Elaine contributed to groundbreaking HIV/AIDS policy and was a key figure in the movement to authorize access to clean needles in CT and the nation. She administered the New Haven Health Department's prototype needle exchange program (NEP) and collaborated with Yale University/CIRA scientists (Heimer and Kaplan) on the initial evaluation research that lead to broader policy change on the issue of syringe access.

Elaine has held various state and national leadership positions. She is a former president of the CT Association of Directors of Health and also past president of the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO). While active in NACCHO she launched and chaired an HIV Advisory Committee that advocated for progressive HIV policy at the national level.

Elaine has received various awards over the years for her contributions in the AIDS/HIV and broader public health practice milieu. She is a recipient of the CT State Health Commissioner's AIDS Leadership award, the C.E.A. Winslow award for Public Health Leadership, and co-recipient of the Franz Edelman Management Science award for her involvement in the Yale sponsored evaluation of the New Haven NEP.

Areas of Expertise:
  • Community Organizing and Coalition Building
  • Design, Execution and Evaluation of Community Based Health and Social Programs including HIV Specific Interventions
  • Health and Social Policy Development and Advocacy
  • Identifying and Addressing Social and Economic Determinants of Health Inequities
  • Media Relations
  • Organizational Management and Strategic Planning