Kelly Cox Watkins, MSN

Kelly Cox Watkins, MSN

Position Vice President, Market Development
Phone Number Description Phone

Telephone Number


About Me

About Me

Kelly Cox Watkins is responsible for patient volume and strategic growth initiatives for Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s system of care — regionally, nationally and internationally. Today, the organization serves patients from nearly every state and more than 70 countries.

Most recently, Kelly has led the development and launch of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s Advisory Services Group, providing strategic assessment, care-model and facility design, and clinical operations and training services to organizations nationally and internationally. This program extends Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s mission, transferring knowledge and sharing best practices throughout the world.

Notably, her leadership has proven pivotal in the successful clinical affiliation with Capital Health in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which recently opened Specialized Rehabilitation Hospital, the first rehabilitation hospital of its kind in the country.

As a critical care and rehabilitation nurse and clinical operations executive, Kelly joined Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (then Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) in 1998, serving in various roles, from Vice President of Corporate Partnerships to Vice President of Inpatient Operations.

Kelly earned her BS in nursing from Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo., and her MS in nursing administration from the University of Colorado Denver.


Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

355 East Erie

Chicago, IL 60611

Education & Professional Associations



    1978 - 1982
    Nursing, Maryville University
    1988 - 1990
    Nursing Administration, University of Colorado

Professional Affiliations

  • President
    Kids' Chance of Illinois, 2016

Work History

  • 2008 - 2009
    Chief Operating Officer
    TIRR Memorial Hermann
  • 2003 - 2008
    VP, Inpatient Operations
  • 1999 - 2003
    VP, Corporate Partnerships
  • 1998 - 2000
    Executive Director, Corporate Partnerships
  • 1996 - 1994
    Chief Nurse Executive
    Intensive Hospital of Columbus, OH - LTAC
  • 1987 - 1989
    Nurse Manager
    Craig Hospital