Kelly is a Deputy Program Area Director in the Youth Development area at Child Trends, a non-profit, mission-driven research center dedicated to improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, young adults, and their families. She is known for her policy- and practice-relevant research as well as her focus on helping communities improve their youth-serving systems.

Currently, she is collaborating with the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice to evaluate two statewide, research-based reform efforts. She is also partnering with an American Indian tribe to conduct a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) study on American Indian students’ perceptions of school climate. Across her diverse portfolio, she remains focused on authentically engaging stakeholders and understanding their needs, building organizations’ evaluation and data-driven decision-making capacities, promoting racial and ethnic equity, and translating research into accessible and user-friendly resources.