Kelly has her master's in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a bachelor's in Biological Aspects of Conservation from the University of Wisconsin. She has worked with traditional Maya farmers in Belize and Guatemala, discovering the bond between community, language and the natural world, and with rural farmers in Brazil, helping to implement a plan for a Payments for Ecosystem Services pilot project. In graduate school, Kelly focused on indigenous rights and forest issues and was also one of the Monterey Institute's Sustainability Graduate Assistants, helping "green" the campus. She has worked with Conservation International's Science & Knowledge team, reporting on CI's REDD and A/R demonstration projects and co-authoring a report on the techincal aspects of REDD projects around the world. She is also co-author of the State of the Biodiversity Markets 2010 Report put out by Ecosystem Marketplace. She speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish.