Professor of National Security Academic Affairs
Dr. John F. Kelly is a Professor of National Security Studies in the Academic Affairs directorate of ACSS. He is Associate Dean Emeritus and a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. As a Faculty Member at this unique security sector academic institution affiliated with the US Department of Defense Dr. Kelly has been responsible for the ideation and development of several qualitative, complex security programs. As an academic, his presentations assure that they maintain a neutral perspective to encourage innovative African solutions to multifaceted security issue problems. He has participated in programs for over the last 3+ years both on the African continent and in the United States. Dr. Kelly’s collegial style encourages unfettered academic freedom and original, creative scholarly discussions in his dynamic program assignments.
Dr. Kelly contributes to a diverse team of professionals in the Washington community seeking to construct a global security network that can both interpret US policy for an African audience and transmit the concerns from the continent to the architects of foreign policy in the United States. Since joining ACSS, Dr. Kelly has been a faculty member, facilitator, moderator and executive manager for programs encompassing counter-terrorist financing, environmental security and water, countering narcotics in the illicit commons, senior leaders seminar, preventing youth radicalization, security sector reform, the executive dialogue, the next generation of military leaders, managing security sector resources, introduction to African security issues, professionalization of senior enlisted officers and various seminars and scholarly activities dissecting the tumultuous landscape of the African context. Currently Dr. Kelly is developing a future multi-staged curriculum on security governance and legislative oversight as well as the rule of law curriculum to support DOD capacity and institution building in a democratic framework within Africa.
Dr. Kelly brings 38 years of experience in higher education, civil government and military science to ACSS. Previously he was a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, where he was a prestigious U.S. Fulbright Scholar conducting research on comparative federalism and subnational economic development. Dr. Kelly’s prior academic research focused on retained sovereignty and policy development of sub-national government, and he is the recipient of multiple teaching excellence awards. He also served as an elected member of the Board of Governors of Wayne State University, a major Carnegie research institution, from 1998 to 2002.
Professor Kelly holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (international relations and diplomatic history) and was a Graduate Fellow of Wayne State University. He also has a Juris Doctor degree from Michigan State University and is a diplomate in military law from the U.S. Army Judge
Advocate General School. He completed graduate studies at Georgetown University and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Wayne State University. His baccalaureate degree is in political science and education from the University of Michigan with Honors. Dr. Kelly served as a Special Attorney General in Michigan from 1995 to 1999. He is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Michigan Supreme Court and all subordinate Federal and State bars as well as the US Court of Military Appeals.
Associate Dean Kelly was elected to the Michigan State Senate in 1978 from Detroit at age 28 and served four consecutive four-year terms. In 1994 he stood for election to the U.S. Senate requiring retirement from the state legislature. In the Michigan Senate he served with distinction and leadership on committees with jurisdiction over the judiciary, banking and economic development, health policy, local government and public finance. Dr. Kelly was elected at his first caucus to the leadership post of Majority Whip and authored over 100 pieces of legislation and amendments that became law, including the state investment anti-apartheid laws for South Africa and the McBride anti-discrimination employment laws for Northern Ireland. He served on the National Commission on Uniform Law, the Michigan Law Revision Commission and as a delegate to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Dr. Kelly served on a National Commission on
Distressed States and is committed to projects to revitalize the City of Detroit. He served until 2009 as the elected Vice-Chair of the Michigan Film Advisory Board and is currently the Director of the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival.
Dr. Kelly retired in 2009 as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Civil Affairs branch but also served in the Judge Advocate branch and as a Military Intelligence officer. As a Foreign Area Officer (FAO), he served as a Defense Attaché on multiple tours of Active Duty assigned primarily to the Republic of South Africa. He volunteered for Active Duty following 9/11 and in this and his reserve capacity he spent seven years as a liaison to Federal law enforcement on counter-terrorism research and as a Task Force Officer (TFO) in a Joint Terrorism unit. A Graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College he also spent 10 years as a Staff Judge Advocate General. Dr. Kelly has been decorated repeatedly for his contributions to the defense establishment during a time of war.
Areas of Expertise
Rule of Law, Electoral Reform & Democracy, Internal Security & Homeland Defense, Civilian Policy Development, Southern Africa