Kelly grew up on the south side of Billings, the second born to a large Irish family. In 1985, he joined the United States Air Force seeking to use his talents to best serve his country and see the world. He was trained in Air Force Electronic Intelligence and embarked on a 23 year career with both the US Air Force and US intelligence community serving around the globe.
While serving in Australia, Kelly met Glenda, his future wife and the love of his life. Glenda is an award winning educator who pioneered programs aimed at closing achievement gaps for urban indigenous students. After returning to the United States in 2008, Glenda continued her passionate work and has become a valued asset in Montana’s Indian Education community. She’s currently finishing her doctorate at Montana State University.
Kelly earned a BS degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle while in the Air Force and later an MBA in Global Business from University of Texas at Dallas.
Upon returning to Montana, Kelly began a five year stint in Banking Operations where he served as the IT Operations Director and later Business Analyst for First Interstate Bank. In 2013 he founded The Artos Group, a consulting company that partners with local and international aid agencies, development organizations, and government entities to foster sustainable growth and prosperity at home and in developing countries worldwide.
Frustrated with the lack of gentility in political discourse when he returned home to Billings, Kelly founded the non-partisan group, Politics in the Pub. Participants spanned the political spectrum and discussed issues facing the state and nation with one simple rule – you don’t have to agree with each other, but you are required to be courteous.
Through Politics in the Pub Kelly fostered many positive relationships with leaders on both sides of the aisle. In 2011, he was approached by his friend and mentor, Robyn Driscoll about running for her termed out Montana State House seat. Following a visit to Helena, Kelly saw that his more amicable approach to political discourse would be a refreshing change in Helena, and he began his first run for the Montana House.
In 2013, Kelly was named a member of the Appropriations team that crafted the first budget ever to pass the House floor with a 100-0 vote. In 2015, he parlayed the good will that he developed with colleagues on both sides of the aisle into an 80% pass rate for sponsored legislation focusing on defending property rights, protecting consumers and fostering economic growth.
In 2017, Kelly was appointed Vice Chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. His priorities for the 2017 legislative session are creating continued opportunities to diversify Montana’s economy and create good paying jobs across the state. He is also working across the aisle to develop a comprehensive infrastructure program that will help put thousands of Montanans to work improving highway and bridge safety across the state.
In addition to his work in the Montana legislature Kelly also is a part of several boards and committees, The Montana Board of Investments, Montana Manufacturing Extension Centers, and Second Season.