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Rear Admiral James M. Kelly is the Director of the U. S. Coast Guard – Defense Innovation Unit Detachment Team, where he leads senior leaders in establishing the inaugural Coast Guard presence at the premier Department of Defense innovation consortium. Prior to this assignment, he led the Reserve Component Governance Team, which resulted in the first-ever Assistant Commandant for Reserve and wholesale restructuring of the Coast Guard Reserve executive governance.
Also, since September 2020, he has been a Board Member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board, which serves as an independent advisor to Secretary of Defense on Reserve and National Guard matters.
Rear Admiral Kelly was earlier recalled to active duty to lead the Coast Guard’s National Capital Region Consolidation Project, the Maritime Enforcement Specialist Implementation Team, and additionally to lead the Maritime Border Security Division. In his Reserve capacity, Rear Admiral Kelly responded to Hurricane Maria, and earlier to Port-au-Prince following the Haiti Earthquake, to the Deepwater Horizon-Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
Enlisting in the Coast Guard Reserve in 1977, Rear Admiral Kelly began his career as a mechanic on a 44’ motor lifeboat and served at search and rescue stations on the East Coast. Upon receiving his commission, Rear Admiral Kelly served as a Marine Safety Office Officer of the Day and Command Duty Officer, an Investigation Officer, and later as a boat operations chief, passenger-vessel inspector, and a Liaison Officer. Before being called to active duty to lead the restructuring of the Coast Guard Reserve, Rear Admiral Kelly’s earlier Reserve positions include Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve Unit – U. S. Southern Command in Doral, Fla., Senior Reserve Officer of Coast Guard District Nine, based in Cleveland, Ohio, which encompasses the Great Lakes, and as the Senior Reserve Officer of Sector Houston-Galveston.
In addition to the Coast Guard Reserve, Mr. Kelly served in his civilian capacity as the Special Assistant to the President of the United States for Intergovernmental Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs with the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and as a Member of the Maryland General Assembly. Additionally, he has commercial banking experience and served as a State Trooper with the Maryland State Police.
Rear Admiral Kelly earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U. S. Naval War College, and is a graduate of the U. S. Joint Forces Staff College – Joint and Combined Warfighting School-Hybrid. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business and Management as a graduate of the University of Maryland – University College, having completed his studies through night school while serving in the Maryland State Police.
(As of April 2020)