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 Director, CDC's Division of Communication Services,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


IT Business Specialist,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Co-Branch Chief,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Co-Branch Chief,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Senior Program Manager,
Maximus Federal

The public wanted answers quickly and efficiently amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and thanks to Kelley Gilbert’s leadership, the CDC-INFO program ramped up at an unprecedented speed. By late January, call and email volume had begun to increase, and surge staffing plans began to be implemented under the direction of Gilbert. In early February, Gilbert onboarded an additional 17 agents, which was none too soon as February saw a 52% increase in call volume compared to January.


In March, the declarations from the WHO of COVID-19 as a pandemic and former President Trump as a National Emergency saw the public concern on the subject explode. Phone volume increased by over 5000% compared to February, and Correspondence volume increased by close to 500%. In response to the crisis, Gilbert immediately began the process of growing staff numbers both in numbers and in locations. 400 additional agents were onboarded, 70 other support staff were brought on, and site locations were expanded to include Lawrence, KS, Coralville, IA, and Kansas City, MO.


Throughout the staffing increase, Gilbert led the way in ensuring as many as possible could work from home. Even with an additional 150 staff onboarded in April, more than 70% of staff worked remotely by the end of the month. As COVID-19 vaccines began to enter final testing in November, phone and email volume started trending upward once again ramped up and Gilbert immediately alerted CDC leadership. This required the team to pivot from answering questions about the disease to learning and providing informational responses on the vaccines and their effect. 


Under Gilbert’s leadership in total, CDC-INFO surpassed 1 million COVID-19 inquiries by the end of March 2021, onboarded hundreds of new staff, and implemented new policies and protocols, enabling CDC-INFO to respond quickly and efficiently to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC-INFO was and continues to be a critical part of ensuring that the public feels safe and can get answers to questions rapidly.


Kelley’s leadership in building a specific vaccine response team allowed them to reassure many of the public who had concerns over the vaccine’s safety.