Energized Economic Development with Carrie Kelly

Executive Director, Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED). Carrie Kelly joined the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) in April of 2020, after more than 15 years of working with nonprofits and governmental entities on economic development issues, government relations and advocacy, and strategic support. With the direction and support of AAED’s members, Kelly completed the organization’s first long-range strategic plan, revamped the organization’s certification for economic developers, debuted new programs including Economic Development for Elected Officials, and won the highest honors from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for their Economic Development Week campaign in 2020 and 2021. In addition, she was named a 2021 Public Policy Leader of the Year from the Arizona Capitol Times, a 2022 AZ Business Leader in Economic Development, and 2022 Most Influential Women in Arizona by AZBigMedia.

Kelly came to the Arizona Association for Economic Development from Downtown Santa Barbara (DSB), where she served as Executive Director. During her time at DSB, she spearheaded a public-private partnership to conduct an economic development asset mapping of Santa Barbara. This study led to a transfer of “clean of safe” activities from DSB to the City of Santa Barbara and increased funding from the City to DSB for marketing and special events. She was also named a 40 Under 40 by the Pacific Coast Business Times. Before Downtown Santa Barbara, she was the Executive Director of the Mohave Community College Foundation, where she secured the largest donation in the college’s history and established the Kathy Hodel Most Outstanding Student Award – a first-of-its-kind award, gifting $10,000 annually to a Mohave Community College graduate.

Originally from Indiana, Carrie worked as Local Government Services Director at McGaughey & Sosbe Law Offices for 11 years, leading economic development efforts and advising local governments on ordinances and policies. She also worked as a nonprofit consultant in Indiana, assisting with fundraising, strategic planning, and rural community development. She holds a B.A. in Art History and Master of Public Administration from Indiana University.

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