Dr. Catherine Lena Kelly

Associate Professor of Justice and Rule of Law
Acting Dean of Academic Affairs

Dr. Catherine Lena Kelly is an associate professor responsible for overseeing the Africa Center’s portfolio on justice, rule of law, and governance and integrating these considerations into academic programming, research, and outreach. Her work focuses on citizen security, party politics and democratization, the rule of law and stabilization, and transnational organized crime.

Prior to joining the Africa Center, Dr. Kelly was an advisor at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative where her work took her to Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. As a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, she designed and taught courses on contemporary Africa and democracy, and at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute, Dr. Kelly taught the West Africa course and co-taught the governance and religion modules in the Area Studies course. She has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants, including a Fulbright Fellowship, a Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies Public Fellowship, a West Africa Research Association grant, several Harvard University grants, and two U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship for the Wolof language and doctoral research in Senegal. Her work has been published extensively in policy and academic journals.

Dr. Kelly holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in government from Harvard University, a Graduate Certificate in international politics (Europe, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding) from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and a B.A. summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis.

Areas of Expertise

Rule of Law, Democratization and Governance, Stabilization of Fragile States, Preventing Violent Extremism, Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation, West and Central Africa, Transnational Organized Crime


Email Dr. Kelly

+1 202-685-7314

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