The IPR community pays tribute to the former trustee of 12 years, Dr. Kathleen Kelly.  Below are memories offered by some of her closest friends and colleagues:


Dr. Kathleen Kelly

We are deeply saddened by the news that Dr. Kathleen Kelly, a retired professor at the University of Florida, passed away on April 28 at the age of 77. Dr. Kelly was an active IPR Trustee from 2003 to 2012. Dr. Kelly won numerous awards for both her service and prolific research for the profession. She was the 1995 recipient of the IPR lifetime achievement award for scholars, the IPR Pathfinder Award. A champion for theory, she was one of the first academics to extensively study and research fundraising. She blazed trails for many others in the field. She was very well regarded by her students, especially her doctoral students whom she mentored, and who continue to honor her legacy in the profession.

While Dr. Kelly served on the IPR Board prior to my tenure as CEO, I knew her from when I started my career 20+ years ago. She was one of the most well-known and well-regarded scholars in the field. She was smart, and she always stood up for what she believed was right. As a strong leader, she deeply cared for our profession and making it better. She never shied away from any issue and you always knew where she stood. She also had a vibrant personality and laugh. Our profession is better because of Dr. Kelly and her contributions. She will be missed.
Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., APR
President & CEO
Institute for Public Relations

Below are some tributes from the IPR Board of Trustees:

Kathy was one of the great academic public relations leaders with strong opinions and high ideals. When I came to UF for my interview for the position I now hold, Kathy picked me up at the airport and took a scenic drive to campus giving us an opportunity to talk. Before this time together, I knew a few things about Kathy – she was a public relations educator, a recognized fundraising scholar, and we shared the same birthday. By the time we got to campus, I had learned how strong an advocate she was for what she cared about, especially her students and colleagues. Her passion for public relations education helped make UF strong but also impacted programs across the globe. She was skilled at asking difficult questions, inspired many to be the best, and will be remembered fondly.
Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D., APR
University of Florida

Kathy Kelly brought a wealth of knowledge and keen insights to the IPR board. As a longstanding board member, we could always count on Kathy to weigh in with a sound academic and research-based perspective. Stated simply, she cared dearly and contributed substantially to developing information on fundraising particularly suited to the not-for-profit sector.  We will miss her always pleasant demeanor, her ever-present commitment to our profession, and the positive spirit she always brought to board meetings and conversations in general. She served our profession in a highly committed and endearing manner and will always be remembered for the leadership she exhibited throughout her career.
Matt Gonring
MP Gonring & Associates

I’ll remember Kathleen for her love of learning and teaching; her joyful and welcoming approach to new people and new ideas; and her wonderful and frequent deep, hearty laugh.  Whenever we gather, we’ll feel the void.
Maril MacDonald
Gagen MacDonald

Kathleen represented the mission and vision behind IPR: world-class research that matters to the practice.  When I joined the IPR board many years ago, Kathleen was a trustee and she explored, as much as anyone, the science supporting the art of public relations. In our time together on that board — and later when I joined UF, she was unfailingly kind and supportive. And funny!
Pat Ford
University of Florida

I am grateful to have learned from Dr. Kathleen Kelly during my time at the University of Florida. Dr. Kelly was a true pioneer in fundraising public relations, and her trailblazing attitude emanated through all that she did. In addition to her vast knowledge of the field, Dr. Kelly was a passionate educator with a big, wonderful personality. She will be sorely missed by students and colleagues alike.
Olivia Kresic
Institute for Public Relations

I met Dr. Kathleen Kelly as a student assistant in the UF PR Department. She always impressed me with how much she cared about each and every student’s journey through the University. I witnessed her advise a countless number of students. She always gave such great words of encouragement. She always shot it straight too. She was one of the women in my career who was never afraid to stand up for what she believed in. She showed me there is power in using your voice. And I am thankful for her influence in my career.
Sarah Jackson
Institute for Public Relations

I’ll always remember Kathy for her welcoming smile and straight talk. She was a lady in the best sense of the word (can I say that these days, yes I can) and never failed to make those around her feel liked and respected. She gave her all in doing and teaching public relations. May she rest in well-earned peace.
Don Bates
New York University 

If there was one person you were invariably glad to see, it was Kathy. She brightened up every room she entered, and her warm smile was a reflection of her generous heart. Kathy was a giver, not a taker.  And she gave so much to us all – whether as an IPR trustee where her wise counsel was always invaluable; as an educator where her devotion to her students was clear; or as an academic researcher where her accomplishments earned her the highest accolades. We are the poorer for her passing.
Peter Debreceny
Gagen MacDonald

Kathy was perhaps the first head of the Public Relations Department at the UF College of Journalism and Communications to serve on the Institute for Public Relations Board.  However, we already knew her well when she was elected to the Board, and not just because of the awards she had taken home.
She also conducted an important study of IPR fundraising and prospects, a study that guided us for years.  That’s when we knew how much we needed her expertise on our Board.
Frank Ovaitt
Institute for Public Relations (emeritus)

Kathleen was one of the nation’s most respected public relations educators. She was a leading authority on the concept of fundraising and played a major role in developing teaching and research about the not-for-profit aspects of our industry. In addition to teaching at the University of Florida (and prior to that at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette), she also served several years as chair of Florida’s public relations department, widely recognized as one of the nation’s best.
Donald K. Wright, Ph.D.
Boston University

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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