Kelly grew up in North Vancouver, BC. She completed a B.A. in Geography at McGill University, where she discovered her passion for human health and its relationship to physical and social environments. An internship at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and a semester working at the UN headquarters during the Summit on Climate Change cemented her dedication to this field of study.
During her Master’s in Population and Public Health, Kelly continued to delve deeper into the study of upstream social and environmental determinants of global disease. This included an emphasis on public policy to combat the growing rates of chronic disease in developing countries caused by Big Tobacco, Big Food and Big Beverage.
In 2013 Kelly was awarded a research grant at the International Research Development Centre to study the food sovereignty movement in Ecuador and its potential for improving diets and reducing chronic disease. Her work has convinced her of the need for alternatives to the neoliberal trade regime, and the importance of building an economy that places the well being of people and the environment at its heart.