John Kelly was born in rural Arizona to two working-class parents. His father was an environmentalist and a city planner, who helped build a sustainable community that valued water conservation and environmental safety. His mother worked as a counselor at Planned Parenthood, the only location for over a hundred miles which made it a crucial resource for women and men seeking contraception, HIV and STD testing and treatment, screening for reproductive cancers (like breast, cervical, testicular, and prostate cancers), pap tests, vaccines, and often the safest resource for survivors of sexual assault.
From an early age, John grew up with a deep understanding of what it meant to stand up for women's rights and the environment. John would often be challenged by his peers, adults, teachers, friends' parents, and conservative leaders on these issues. These conversations helped John become politically skilled and persuasive at a young age, often changing minds, and offering new perspectives in a community resistant to change.
John went on to study Political Science at Northern Arizona University where he was active in the Flagstaff community. During college, John helped organize a movement to ban uranium mining in the Grand Canyon and was active in an immigration advocacy group to repeal Arizona's harsh immigration law that treated Latino, Chicano, and Indigenous communities as 2nd class citizens.
After moving to Colorado, John got quickly involved with Colorado politics first working to elect progressive Democrats at the state and national level, and then as a staff employee the University of Colorado Boulder. At CU Boulder John was elected as a Staff Council representative where he tackled issues such as
preventing ICE from coming onto campus, providing increased visibility and protections for our LGBTQIA staff, faculty, and students, and increased benefits for programs from retirement protections to free employee tuition at CU.
After four years of serving on Staff Council, John Kelly was elected as co-chair where he worked to rally workers, submitted proposals, and secured a 6-week paid parental leave policy to help close the gender pay gap for all 8,000 staff employees at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Denver, Anschutz, and Colorado Springs.
In addition to his role in Staff Council, John works as a Regional Affiliate Manager at CU for NCWIT, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, where he leads a team of volunteers to significantly increase the meaningful participation of all women in computing and technology within their states and communities. John has helped thousands of women across the nation get involved with NCWIT and foster their interest in technology by providing access to resources, scholarships, workshops, jobs, and internship opportunities. John has worked tirelessly to ensure that there is a supportive network and community for women in technology and that all stakeholders are committed to changing the culture and reversing some of society's most ingrained injustices.
State Senate District 17, which includes Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette, and Erie is one of the most progressive districts in Colorado, but you wouldn't guess it by it's current State Senate representation. District representatives have co-oped Republican ideals such as deregulation of environmental state standards and take only incremental approaches to issues that require systemic change.
This timid approach comes after decades of allowing oil companies, corporations, and private prisons to profit billions of dollars from the destruction of our environment, the exploitation of our workers, and the criminalization of our communities.
John decided Colorado could do better and it's time for a political revolution and a new Democratic Party that can be a leader in fighting against these ingrained injustices.
Our campaign seeks to ban fracking in Colorado, put an end to financial immorality, and provide an unprecedented investment into our community through access to rent relief and affordable housing, access to free and low-cost green renewable technology, and building the best schools in America taught by well-paid and highly trained educators.
We started this campaign to do more than talk about the issues we already agree on, but to build a broad coalition around innovative plans and policies built on giving power and resources back to those who it was taken from.
About John Kelly
John Kelly is a proven, progressive leader in Colorado who has served as Chair of CU Boulder’s Staff Council where he secured paid parental and family leave for all CU employees and advocated for gender equality in his role at the National Center for Women & Information Technology.