Kelley O’Brien

Acting Chief of Staff

Kelley O’BrienKelley O’Brien has over 15 years of experience as an administrator in higher education and nonprofits, as well as a project manager, communicator, and grant writer. She works with executive leadership teams to develop organizational and departmental priorities, resulting in strategic roadmaps and communications plans. Previously, as Director for Strategy and Innovation at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Government, she led  a variety of initiatives, each requiring broad-based buy-in and support, to advance the School’s work as the largest university-based local government training, advisory, and research organization in the country.

Kelley served as a member of the senior-level management team, providing input on strategic direction and financial management of the organization. She oversaw strategic planning for the School, which resulted in priorities related to fundraising, diversity, engaged scholarship, and organizational development; managed cross-departmental initiative to develop standardized evaluations for use in the School’s nearly 200 annual courses for North Carolina public officials; Designed and managed the School’s Innovation Fund, which supports internal and external projects that advance the School’s mission; and Designed and administered a comprehensive market research study of local government officials to evaluate price sensitivity, preferred delivery channels, and new markets for School products and services.

Her former and current clients include, North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform, a statewide, bi-partisan effort to place a Constitutional amendment on the ballot to end partisan gerrymandering in the state; The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, a mentoring nonprofit established by Cate Edwards in honor of her late mother; EducationNC, North Carolina’s only education-focused media organization; Advanced Energy, a global power solutions leader; Duke HomeCare & Hospice; and many units and leadership teams within University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She is adjunct faculty at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she currently teaches graduate-level courses in communications and grant writing. She has a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Arts in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies, Urban Studies from the University of Georgia. More recently, she has completed the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Executive Program in Innovation and Harvard Division of Continuing Education’s Design Thinking Program.