The Kelly Guzman File


  • Current president and CEO of Yellow Brick Consulting Inc.
  • Principal, COO/vice president and executive director of transition planning at Healthcare Technical Services Inc. (2006-2018).
  • Executive director of human resources at Karl Storz Endoscopy — America (2005-2006).
  • Director of transition planning (2001-2005) and director of clinical services for ambulatory and interventional services (1999-2001) at UCLA Medical Center.
  • Director of emergency and medical-surgical services (1997-1999) and director of the emergency department (1992-1996) at White Memorial Medical Center.

Current Affiliations

  • Nursing Institute of Healthcare Design president (2022) and membership committee (2015-present).
  • America College of Healthcare Executives member (2017-present).
  • American Organization of Nurse Leadership member (2018-present).
  • Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (2018-present).
  • National Association of Hispanic Nurses president (2000-2002), board member (1996-2000 and 2007- 2012) and member 1996-present.
  • Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification.


  • Master’s degree in nursing, nursing administration, University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing, Pacific Union College, Angwin, Calif.
  • Associate degree in nursing, Rio Hondo College, Whittier, Calif.

As 2022 president of the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design (NIHD), Kelly Guzman, M.N., R.N., EDAC, is leading the organization through the uncertainties of the pandemic era. This month, she talks to Health Facilities Management magazine about these challenges and provides a glimpse into NIHD’s growth plans.

How did you become involved in health care facility planning, design and construction (PDC)? 

I spent most of my career in front-line health care operations and management. That allowed me to work on various small construction projects, such as upgrades or remodels, but never any mega projects. 

While working at UCLA Medical Center, I was the clinical director for ambulatory and interventional services. In my role, I served as an internal clinical consultant, ensuring consistency and compliance with the regulatory requirements throughout the organization. 

Although I did not have the title of project manager, I was utilizing many of the project management skills that I rely on today, one of the most prominent being working with multiple hospital departments and leaders from the medical staff and health care system to achieve a specific goal. 

I was asked to serve as the director of transition planning for the Santa Monica UCLA and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. These projects were my introduction to the field of transition and activation planning and large-scale project management. In my first meetings, I had no idea what language the architects were speaking! Each organization has its own terminology, so being new to the world of transition and activation planning, it was challenging to navigate the middle ground between design and operations. 

My experience in this role inspired me to increase my knowledge of health care PDC so that I could lead conversations with both the design and clinical teams.

Why did you decide to form your own consulting firm?

While working at UCLA, we looked for experienced transition and activation planners to provide a standardized framework and guide us through our project. At the time, very few firms focused on transition and activation planning. There were no standard processes, and literature on the subject was scarce. 

Through my role at UCLA, I discovered my passion and set out to pursue a career in consulting. I realized I could help other health care leaders navigate their transition and activation projects. My experience as an internal consultant, coupled with my knowledge of operations, was the perfect mix for a career in transition and activation planning. 

For most, transitioning into a new health care facility is a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity. Although it is an exciting and momentous occasion, the path isn’t without challenges. The starkest of the unknowns is how to approach the task. Having been on the owner’s side, I understand that anxiety, so my goal as a consultant is to provide health care leaders a framework with tools scalable to a project of any size.

When did you get involved with NIHD, and what benefits has it provided to you in your career?

In 2012, I met Debbie Gregory, a founder of NIHD, and she shared her passion and vision about the nurse’s role in design. 

NIHD provided me with the camaraderie of like-minded professionals passionate about the health care environment and its impact on staff and patients. When we are doing something new, it is helpful to brainstorm with colleagues with similar experiences to learn how others have approached their work. 

I share this information with my team and clients to apply these lessons learned to their projects.

How has the clinician’s role in health care facility PDC changed over the past decade?

I believe the design team has a better understanding that “a nurse isn’t just a nurse.” Design input should come from the experts, and that must include nurse leaders. Every patient population and specialty have unique needs. Input from specialty clinicians is required to design a functional space. One of the biggest challenges is translating hospital lexicon with design terminology. 

I have observed more clinicians dedicated to facility and space planning in leadership roles within their organizations. The health care organization’s culture is essential when planning a new facility. Using the internal expert to translate the organization’s needs and vision with the design team’s concepts has proven successful.

How would you characterize the NIHD’s membership? 

All NIHD members are passionate about the built environment and its influence on those who occupy the space. We are all committed to creating environments that are aesthetically pleasing, functional and promote healing for their occupants.

NIHD is unique in that not all members are nurses. We are primarily nurses, but our membership includes architects, interior designers, researchers, transition planners, educators, students and vendor partners. Collectively, this promotes an environment that considers all aspects of the design process.

How has the pandemic affected NIHD’s programs and events?

We’ve adapted to support our partners and members as best we could. Pre-pandemic, NIHD held in-person meetings and events, which adjusted to 100% virtual during 2020, and now we utilize a hybrid approach. We have seen engagement from members who hadn’t participated in past events. During this time, we shared best practices, policies, protocols and lessons learned with each other as our members worked with their organizations to adjust.

In 2020, the Healthcare Design Conference + Expo (HCD) was held virtually. Surprisingly, we had our highest attendance and participation at our annual pre-conference event. Two new virtual programs we launched that have been well received include our coffee talks and new member welcome meetings. In 2022, we will continue to adjust how we engage our members through both virtual and in-person events.

What are your plans for this year as NIHD president?

I will work closely with our board of directors to implement our strategic plan. We are looking to grow by engaging our members through regular meetings with our coffee chat series, webinars and committee work, and recruiting new members, and industry association and academic partners to engage with NIHD. 

Our priorities include increasing membership by 10%, engaging existing partners and identifying four new partners. We will also continue our partnership and clinical association partner roles and recruit our members to represent NIHD at the American Society for Health Care Engineering’s PDC Summit clinical track abstract review, the HCD clinical track abstract review and the HCD pre-conference workshop.