Ambassador Kelly retired from the State Department in 2010 after over 25 years of service overseas and in Washington. As Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, he was “chief operating officer” for policy and management in 34 countries from Canada to Chile. Ambassador Kelly focused heavily on economic and commercial relations in the region, and teamed with another senior official to negotiate the “Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas” program, a trade and development initiative involving 14 countries. He served as troubleshooter in several crises in the hemisphere, including during the aftermath of the coup in Honduras, where he had a lead role in brokering the accord that led to resolution of the crisis. He led the biannual migration talks with Cuba, and in February 2010 became the highest-level U.S. official in 15 years to visit Havana, where he met with leaders of civil society as well as the government.
From 2004 to 2007 Kelly served as U.S. Ambassador to Chile, where he was an active proponent of U.S. business, bilateral trade and investment and intellectual property rights. He worked with the Chilean government to launch the “American Academy of Science and Technology” in Santiago, dedicated to highlighting science cooperation between the two countries. He led his embassy team in negotiating the “Equal Opportunity Scholarships,” which send 100 Chilean students per year to earn advanced degrees in science and technology in the United States. He worked closely with the Chilean government on UN issues in the Middle East and Asia as well as the Western Hemisphere, and hosted the President and First Lady during the APEC Leaders Meeting in Santiago in 2004. A strong proponent of sports diplomacy, Ambassador Kelly launched an official affiliate of Little League Baseball in Chile.
Ambassador Kelly was Executive Assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell from March 2001 to June 2004. He supervised the Secretary’s staff and joined the Secretary in all of his meetings with foreign leaders in Washington and in over 90 countries around the world. From 1999 to 2001, Kelly was chief of staff to Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering.
Ambassador Kelly has served in a variety of overseas posts. In Paris, he was chief of the political-military section, leading the embassy’s work on NATO, arms control, Bosnia and nuclear issues. He was an election observer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1997. In Bogota, Colombia (1985-87) he dealt extensively with political and counter-narcotics issues.
Kelly also served as political officer at the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican in the final two years of the Cold War. In Washington, his early assignments included senior Nicaragua desk officer and acting director of European Affairs at the National Security Council.
Ambassador Kelly holds numerous State Department awards, including the Presidential Meritorious Service Award for his work in Chile, and the Secretary of State’s Cordell Hull Award for Economics.
Ambassador Kelly holds a B.A. (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and has studied at Stanford University and the National War College in Washington. He holds a degree from the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) in Paris and was a Fulbright Scholar in Italy. His languages are Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese. He and his wife Kimberly Fitzgerald Kelly have two children.