Holli Kelly2021 Rising Alumni

Holli Kelly

Holli Kelly is a renowned leader in the field of marriage and family therapy (MFT). She is the Director of the Marietta Vet Center in Georgia that helps combat veterans, survivors of military sexual trauma, and military bereavement cases. She also serves as acting director for the Savannah Vet Center, and is an adjunct faculty member at Northcentral University. She presents statewide and nationally on issues impacting families such as incarceration, military sexual trauma, and combat trauma, and speaks out on the marginalization and oppression that some of these groups may experience. She is a devoted mentor to her students and new professionals working towards licensure. Holli’s integrity, dedication and tireless commitment to the field has helped expand opportunities for therapists and has been instrumental in helping individuals and families.

Current Job

Director, Marietta Vet Center

CEHD Degree

Ph.D., Family Social Science, University of Minnesota

Please list any professional accomplishments you wish to mention.

I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), nationally approved MFT supervisor, and am the Director of the Marietta Vet Center in Georgia that helps combat veterans, survivors of military sexual trauma and military bereavement cases. I was an adjunct faculty member at Northcentral University for three years in which I created courses for a developing trauma certification program, supervised MFT interns, taught multiple courses including those for a military specialization certification, and was a subject matter expert for dissertations, particularly those related to military or incarceration. I received a distinguished service award from the Department of Veterans Affairs for my dedicated service, a congregational award from Georgia State Senator Lucy McBath for my work with veterans, and a certificate of appreciation from Extreme Government Solutions for assisting in the co-facilitation of group retreats for veterans to promote healing and connection. I recently was the Executive Director for the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (GAMFT) where I worked diligently within that state and was a representative with the national organization, AAMFT, regarding the promotion and expansion of the field and profession of MFT. I also continue to present statewide and nationally on issues impacting families such as incarceration, military sexual trauma and combat trauma as well as being an advocate in speaking out on the marginalization and oppression that some of these groups may experience.

What is your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?

During my doctorate program I also took several courses in the Center for Spirituality and Healing. During my time there I met Dr. Mim Cameron who was a professor in that department and did extensive work in the Tibetan community. Through my coursework with her, a group of us were able to travel to Dharamsala India, which is the home of Dalai Lama. We were able to meet with the Dalai Lama at his home and spend time with him as well as study at Men-Tsee-Khang, which is a training institute that preserves the traditional arts of Tibetan medicine and astrology. It was a life changing experience in both meeting such an influential spiritual leader and also having the opportunity to study at a place he founded to learn about healing the mind and body through Tibetan medicine and yoga.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in CEHD?

Dr. Paul Rosenblatt taught qualitative research methods. I had primarily been exposed to quantitative research in the past, but this course spoke to my heart because it was about storytelling and the power of listening to and gathering people’s narratives about their life experiences. This was a perfect fit for my clinical background and made me more passionate about the research process because it felt more in alignment with how I viewed the world and the importance of ‘story’. All of my qualifying exams were qualitative and I was able to deepen my understanding and appreciation of the different types of methodology and implementation of qualitative research around the subject matter that I cared about. I believe it was through Dr. Rosenblatt’s intoxicating enthusiasm and unending curiosity about humanity that paved a path for my own exploration and excitement in capturing the essence of the human experience as well as utilizing qualitative research for social justice and social change.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

In obtaining my doctorate in Family Social Science, I was provided with the knowledge and skills to constructively integrate trauma-focused clinical practice, policy, and research to most effectively assist those I serve today.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, what do you do?

I am a huge animal lover so I enjoy spending time with my rescue dogs in the beauty of nature. I also received my yoga teacher certification this past year and practice a lot of self-care through doing yoga and meditation.

How do you describe yourself?

Enthusiastic, creative, compassionate, committed, good sense of humor, curious, having integrity, adventurous

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a child I always wanted to help people and animals and make a difference in this world. I felt a deep desire to serve and give back. My first charity event was when I was nine years old and I swam a 100 laps to help raise money for disabled children. That was the beginning of a lifelong journey of volunteering, being active in my community, and inevitably providing mental health services as a career.