Denver is a city of promise. But not every family has an equal chance to see that promise, as Kelly well knows.
When Kelly was just an infant, her father was murdered, leaving her mom to raise two young children in the face of terrible tragedy. Even after her mom later remarried, Kelly’s father was injured and could no longer work, and her family relied on government assistance, including food stamps and free school lunches, to make ends meet.
A helping hand eased many of the rough spots, but education changed her family’s direction. Kelly’s stepfather returned to school, earning a degree in diesel mechanics and found fulfilling work as a teacher and manager, putting her family on a stable path.
Kelly saw the power of education transform her own life, and worked nights and weekends to put herself through college. This gave her the passion that has defined her career to give more families and disadvantaged children the same path to success Kelly followed.
Kelly started a consulting business, ran a nationally recognized leadership program, and helped teens facing great obstacles in life. This led to significant roles in Denver government as a legislative analyst for City Council, the first woman head of the city’s human resource department, and ultimately chief of staff to then-Mayor John Hickenlooper.
As part of the leadership team in the Hickenlooper administration, Kelly helped put Denver on the national stage by:
- Overseeing hosting of the Democratic National Convention
- Delivering Denver’s 311, a phone and chat system that provides residents with an effortless, accessible way to navigate city services
- Helping create the city’s first Chief Financial Officer position
- Balancing the city’s budget in response to the Great Recession
Kelly is the only candidate for mayor who has actually managed the city.
Kelly then served as the first woman president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, where she continued to serve the city she loves. Leading the Chamber, Kelly focused on:
- Delivering great jobs for Coloradans
- Supporting small business
- Better preparing our kids for the future by passing the Prosperity Denver ballot issue that created college scholarships for all Denver Public Schools students
- Increasing access to economic opportunity by building an entire arm of the Chamber focused on removing racial and gender disparities in our economy
- Leading the successful effort to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primary electionsin Colorado
Kelly has also given her time to organizations throughout Denver and the state, serving on boards including Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, Denver Zoo, Delta Dental of Colorado, Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado, and Visit Denver. She also served as a trustee for Colorado Mesa University and recently co-chaired the Housing Affordability Strategy Group convened by Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper.
While serving Denver throughout her career, Kelly still saw everyone’s struggles through her own. As a single mother of two, she faced the devastating consequences of addiction, mental health problems, and suicide. She knows any success for Denver must start with success for every family, and touch the struggles all families face.
Kelly has walked a unique path to become Denver’s next mayor. She knows this city and knows how to lead it. Her leadership, collaborative nature, and boundless energy is what we need to get our city working for everyone again.