Staff Profile: Emily Kelley

Emily Kelley, coordinator of the UNA women’s center, has experience in everything from political science to culinary arts and administration.

For those who come in contact with her, Emily Kelley is more than just the coordinator of the UNA women’s center. She is a mentor and friend to the women of all kinds who walk through her door.

“She is, like, numero uno,” said Jean Ann Willis, a volunteer and frequenter of the women’s center. “She’s great.”

Not only is Kelley a friend and mentor, she also has an impressive resume. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Vassar College, a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America and a year at the University of London under her belt. Kelley has also owned her own French restaurants and a catering business.

Willis, who got out of an abusive relationship in 2007, said Kelley has been a stable source of support in her life throughout her time at UNA.

“For me, she has been almost like a mom to me,” Willis said. “This has been a really trying semester for me, and I’ve struggled, and she never hesitates to say ‘it’s OK, it’s OK.’”

Kelly has experience with abuse herself. She had a verbally and emotionally abusive husband, and said she got out just as her husband began to get physical.

“I did not suffer any physical abuse—our house did; there were several doors that had fists through them and things like that, and I got out just before the fists landed on me,” Kelley said.

Her experience has a lot to do with her choice to work helping other women, she said.

Anna Lott, co-director of the women’s center, has known Kelley for more than 12 years. She said she spoke to Kelley about coming to work at the women’s center at an American Association of University Women meeting a few years ago.

“It was just doing some networking; Anna and I were catching up on things, and I was in between positions … and we said ‘oh, let’s sit together and catch up’ and that’s exactly how it happened,” Kelley said.

Lott and Kelley have become close friends over the years. Lott, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said she called Kelley the last time she was in the hospital. Talking to Kelley made her feel confident that she would be OK, she said.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen but I knew I was going to be OK,” Lott said.

Though women with various issues come to the women’s center, the two said all of the women come together. The women’s center is all about community and support, according to the two.

“The verses are different, you know, but the chorus is basically the same,” Kelley said.