Kelly grew up in the Tampa Bay area where a passion for marine science and conservation was sparked. After receiving a B.S. in marine science from the University of Florida she worked for Americorps doing projects for various nonprofits. Deciding she wanted to continue to pursue work in the marine science field she took an internship at Mote as a Marine Policy Institute intern. She now works as a Research Associate in Sponsored Programs helping with the Beach Condition Reporting System, Red Tide Initiative Project, and Protect Our Reefs grant.